SCITUATE – It’s one of the hottest – and coolest – new restaurants south of Boston. Galley Kitchen and Bar is a super fun place that’s part oyster bar, part tapas bar, and it’s run by one of the area’s most talented chefs.
Brian Houlihan has been cooking since he was 12 years old. A native Irishman who’s worked at some of the top restaurants in Boston, he’s opened multiple restaurants south of the city. Now, he’s built the place of his dreams in his adopted hometown of Scituate.
Galley is a new kind of restaurant for this coastal community: a contemporary gastropub specializing in small plates, fresh-shucked oysters, and anything and everything that’s fresh and local.
“Galley, as you may or may not know, is a reference to a kitchen on a boat,” Brian explained. “So being in a seafaring community like Scituate and the fact that the kitchen is tiny and long like it would be on a boat, we decided to go with the word Galley.”
Despite the small space, the kitchen cranks out some impressive food: from a Salumi Board loaded with house-cured meats, to crispy Tempura Battered Lobster with wasabi aioli. There’s Terriyaki Grilled Salmon Skewers, Hawaiian style Ahi Tuna Poke, and delicious Smoked Duck Drummettes with a Thai chili glaze.
This is serious food, from a chef who doesn’t take himself too seriously.
When he gets down to business, chef Brian concentrates on giving customers exactly the kind of food and experience the area has been waiting for.
“Really good local beers, lots of farm to table stuff, local fish caught right outside the door. We like to say it’s tapas-style service without being all tapas-style food, because it’s not 100 percent Spanish. There is some Spanish style influence to the menu, but we’ve got some Asian flair, we’ve got some creative American food.
“A lot of customers come in, they’ll try like 10-12 different things, and people are sitting together – they don’t even know each other- and they’re sharing food. Very social way of eating.”
The eating begins with some Pinchos, little pre-appetizer snacks like Spiced Nuts and Marinated Olives. Next up: a selection from the Galley’s outstanding raw bar.
“We’re in Scituate, and you look across our bay, you see Duxbury Bay, which is the best place in the world to get oysters,” Brian said. “We serve on average five to six different types of oysters here. We like to do that so people can taste the differences between Pacific Coast and East Coast oysters.”
For bar food enthusiasts, the Chicken Drummettes are the Galley’s answer to Buffalo wings, soaked in buttermilk and hot sauce and served lollypop style. But it’s their twist on Beer Can Chicken that’s truly intoxicating.
“We’re going to use Narragansett [beer]from Rhode Island. Marinate our chicken thighs in that overnight, and slowly stew them in the Narragansett with our homemade barbecue hot sauce. We leave the chicken thigh on the bone. We bring in local chickens, so it’s as fresh as you can get it. With soaking in the beer overnight and slow braising it, it’s moist and delicious.”
For something lighter, there’s a vibrant Quinoa and Roasted Cauliflower Salad. And for something more substantial, there’s a South-American inspired steak dish you’ll definitely want to try.
“So it’s a Chimichurri marinated Hanger Steak that we grill medium rare. Slice it, serve it on a corn tortilla with a farm fresh egg and fresh pico de gallo,” described Chef Brian. “When you cut into the egg, you can mop it up with the corn tortilla and the egg yolk becomes the sauce on the dish.”
If there’s one dish that really exemplifies the restaurant, and the region, it’s the hearty and incredibly fresh Fish Stew.
“We’re getting our fish here probably a day or two earlier than it would go to Boston. We have so much local, sustainable fish, it’s amazing. We have shellfish coming from Chatham and the Cape and Duxbury. So we take some of that; we take some of our local fish; we stew it down with some chorizo and like a spicy red sauce.”
Like most the menu, desserts here are small and sharable. You can get a tasting, presented in mini mason jars, featuring treats like a Lemon Curd Tart, Plum and Blackberry Clafoutis, or Peanut Butter Cookie Pie with vanilla gelato.
They’re just another example of why small plates have been such a huge hit at The Galley.
“It’s a fun place to come and hang out. I think that’s what it’s all about.”
You can find Galley Kitchen and Bar at 95 Front Street in Scituate and online at galleyscituate.com.
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