Test Driving Galley - a sexy new spot on Islington's Upper Street


So what should we know about Galley?

This is a sibling project - Marcel Grzyb was Head Chef of Soho seafood spot Randall & Aubin for the past decade, so he's in the kitchen. Sister Oriona Robb happens to be a stylist, so she oversaw the design of this new Islington restaurant.

And where is it?

On Upper Street, just up from Islington Green in the space recently vacated by United Ramen.

Where should we go for a drink first?

There's a cracking cocktail list here that we would have smashed into, if we hadn't been having lunch rather than dinner. But if you are looking to meet elsewhere your best bet is probably the King's Head a few doors down.

Where's the best place to sit?

No obvious spot; if you want to people watch on Upper Street, head for the section at the front. There are a few choice seats up at the open kitchen we rather liked the look of, but we were happy in our booths along the right hand wall.

What kind of food is it?

Given chef Marcel's background, there's a lot of seafood on the menu, but there's plenty of other stuff to choose from. To be honest, we reckon your real problem here will be deciding what to have, because we'd happily have gone for most of this well written menu. As it was, we had to choose and from what we had at our lunch we'd say must-have dishes are:

  • Tempura oysters with wasabi dressing (£3 a pop)
  • Hand-picked Cornish Crab crostini with smoked garlic aioli and confit tomatoes £9.50 - lovely fresh crostini which probably didn't need the confit tomatoes
  • Scottish Venison with smoked potato purée, braised cabbage and thyme gravy - proof that the kitchen can do meat as well as seafood - venison done three ways, braised, as a croquette and a beautifully medium-rare bit of loin £21.50

God alone knows what you're doing to do come desserts - we'd advise bringing a group so you can try everything off the menu. As it was, we nearly came to blows before settling on a heavenly white chocolate pannacotta with honeycomb and blackberries and and a pitch perfect salted caramel tart with green tea ice-cream - both £7.

And drinks?

There's on-site filtered still and sparkling water, which we appreciated. And the wine list isn't too punchy - it's nice to see 175ml glasses still on the menu, ranging here in price from £5 to £8.50

Overall thoughts

If you've dined out or lived in Islington as long as we have, you'll have seen a LOT of restaurants come and go in this particular site. Could Galley be the one to last? By the looks of it all the signs are good. You'll hardly recognise the space if you've been in before - it's a little slice of Soho buzz transplanted to Upper Street. We reckon it'll be welcomed with open arms by locals.

Galley is at 105 Upper Street, London N1 1QN. Find out more about them on Twitter @GalleyLondon

Hot Dinners were invited to Galley, prices were correct at the time of writing.