As a regular on Upper Street, I am always intrigued to see the changing face of its food and drink players. The chains like Pizza Express and Byron hold on for dear life. The old timers like Mem & Laz and Sacre Coeur have firmly cemented themselves as Islington royalty, then there are the new kids on the block like Vintage Salt and Bellanger.
Galley has slotted itself around the corner from the Kings and Queens of Theberton Street. Having only just eaten at the newish La Farola a couple of doors down, I was not planning on visiting the area again so quickly. However, I was glad to be introduced to this new regal place. Now to frame the experience correctly, I was invited to the soft opening. This is where things that go wrong, can be put right. A training exercise if you will for the front and back of house team. It’s critical to any restaurant opening, as you can’t expect a perfect premier without practice.
Just so you know how good these guys are going to be, apparently there was a power shortage prior to our arrival. We were called to change our table timing and were told that unfortunately diners were enjoying themselves too much and they were working on turning the tables, however there would be a delay. Having the professionalism to come up with such a plausible excuse other than a power outage, gave it its first ticked box from me.
On arrival, the understandable stress was perfectly masked by calm and chirpy staff. The electricians were having a beer on the terrace, no doubt celebrating having saved the day. We were sat at the bar which is the spot for Upper Street watching, but also enjoying the cocktail boys (and gal) create their infusions. I will be honest here, I have no idea what cocktails we had but they were gorg. We were guided by the fabulous Gleb and trusted all three of his choices. The cocktails are priced as you would expect in an establishment of this calibre, £9.5 to £14.
We ordered our food and it did take some time for the mains to arrive. I am not going to lament on the delay as it is not the worst I have experienced for openings. We did get our starter quickly which was one of my faves, burrata with roasted vine tomatoes, aged parmesan pesto with toasted focaccia (a little skimpy on the burrata side when you look at Amici Miei). While we waited for our mains, we were eventually offered some artisan breads to fill the gap. The anchovy dip, foodgasm!
For our mains, I had 10oz British Sirloin Steam on the bone with chimichurri, truffle infused chips. The steak was tasty, well seasoned, truffle was subtle and the portion was decent. Fitore had Lobster pappardelle with heritage tomatoes and Jerusalem artichoke. She raved about the texture of the pappardelle (al dente) and the surprisingly generous portion of Lobster meat. We were both impressed with the food. We also threw in a side of chargrilled purple sprouting broccoli.
The cocktails is the immediate huge draw for me in the future, as they could not be faulted and were expertly concocted. The food stands its ground, but I was a little confused as to what the concept was. It takes its influence from several places, which can be fine, but I like to know what I am getting when I fancy a particular cuisine. For example, if I fancied Asian, I would expect to see all my favourites and interpretations thereof on the menu.
Perhaps the food at Galley is not supposed to be understood, it’s just to be enjoyed. If that is the case, yes I enjoyed it and I will be back.
105 – 106 Upper Street
London N1 1QN