Islington’s Upper Street is slowly starting to become more than just a giant stretch of chains. Thanks to Oldroyd and Corbin and King’s Bellanger, it’s actually difficult choosing where to eat. That choice is now likely to get trickier with the addition of Galley.
It’s a beautifully kitted out space; the open kitchen with a counter (that’s the best place to sit) is reminiscent of The Palomar; it gives you the feeling of being in the heart of Soho.
We started with the Wookey Hole cheddar and ham hock croquettes (£7) which were full of cheesy flavour but just a little too big; the ratio of filling to crisp breadcrumb was just a little out of kilter.
The crispy Cornish squid (£8), something I now use as a barometer for how competent a kitchen is, was superb. Sweet with a little heat, the desired crunch from the greaseless coating and not at all chewy. Crispy tempura oysters (£3 each) would make any oyster hater keen on them (my gentleman companion being one of them.)
A simple plate of burrata with roasted vine tomatoes and toasted focaccia (£9) looked a corker and tasted it too. The addition of some parmesan pesto took things up a gear. Scottish scallops (£9), served in their shell, had a welcome blend of soft carrot puree and crunchy hazelnuts.
For main, a whole lemon sole (£18.50) was cooked so perfectly the flesh lifted off the bone with ease. The lemon butter sauce, some sautee potatoes, Scottish cockles; it worked so perfectly together. The head chef and co-owner, Marcel, spent 18 years at Randall & Aubin so it’s not surprise the fish is so en pointe.
Our meatier alternative was Scottish venison (£21.50) with a smoked potato puree. The venison came three ways; slow braised, a chunk, and a croquette which made for a real meat treat.
For pud, white chocolate panna cotta (£7) was majorly sweet in the very best way; it reminded me of being 8 years old and eating a Milky Bar ice cream from the local Safeways – I’m pure class me! Some passion fruit and honeycomb added texture and an extra, most welcome, hit of sugar.
There’s something about Galley that feels rather fun. Maybe it’s the staff, who are super friendly and chatty, or the buzzy atmosphere, but the food (especially the fish dishes) are worth the visit. Upper Street aint what it used to be and that’s a very good thing.
We dined as guests of the restaurant.