Galley & Garden’s Cali-French Cuisine


V51A9235-EditWritten by Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

 

We welcome Galley and Garden to the redesigned Veranda on Highland building, at 2220 Highland Avenue South. Boyce Restaurant Concepts’ chef James Boyce, along with his wife and partner, Suzan, are co-owners with Ed Hardin. Boyce’s Southern-influenced, modern Cali-French inspired cuisine is served Monday through Saturday for dinner, as well as for Sunday brunch.

 

The Place

The curb appeal of this historic building—the former Merritt House—has been enhanced by months of renovations. Gone is the porch’s glass that previously enclosed part of its stately facade. Four massive, white pillars rise from the front porch to the veranda above, overlooking the front garden. Black iron café-style tables and chairs dot the brick floor on the gas-lit front porch and the walled patio, which is complete with fireplace and family table.

Inside, the pristine ambience is awash in subtle tones of taupe and grey with contrasts of white and black. Inside the bar area, white marble-top tables, booths, and banquettes line the walls. The white marble continues atop the bar, which wraps around the center of the wall into the hall. On the bar’s end wall is a massive, black-paned window open to the “galley,” (kitchen) with views of the flaming wood-fired oven, which is encased in white marble and filled with flatbreads. Gleaming white tile walls flank the kitchen space. And an antique brass and white porcelain fixture hangs above a rectangular butcher table in the center of the space. In the main dining room, a plastered fireplace sets the tone of tranquility. And white-clothed, candlelit tables complete its formal mood. Upstairs are several newly renovated dining rooms, along with the redwood wine room, which remains untouched. And the basement boasts a new wine cellar along with rooms for prepping and storage.

 

The People

One thing that has not changed here is some key staff, including the smiling face of Stan Reynolds, who greets us when we enter. In addition to Galley and Garden, the Boyces also own restaurants in Huntsville, including Cotton Row Restaurant, Pane e Vino, and Commerce Kitchen. Boyce’s culinary career began, however, in New York, at Le Cirque. There he worked under Daniel Boulud and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) with top honors. Boyce’s career has also included a stint at The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he was nominated “Best Chef of the Southwest” by The James Beard Foundation. He also served as the chef de cuisine at Palace Court, in Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace. And while in California, he was the “top toque” for San Diego’s Loews Coronado Bay Resort and opened Montage Resort and Spa Laguna Beach’s fine dining venue, Studio.

 

V51A9253-Edit-EditFavorite Fare

Dining at Galley and Garden is a déjà vu experience, which is to be expected with so many wonderful memories here. But I also find the new ambience and cuisine reminiscent of my visits to several Napa Valley restaurants. We toast the memories and the new beginning with glasses of Adami Gabel Prosecco.

Slices of comforting chorizo flatbread arrive piping hot, whetting our appetites for our next round of apps—pork dumplings and mussels. A bowl of boldness—Brussels sprout kimchi and lime ginger sauce—accompanies the pretty plateful of savory roasted pork belly dumplings. The enormous lager-roasted PEI mussels are the largest I’ve ever seen, with a delightfully delicate texture. And surprise touches of Spanish olives, Andouille, jalapeño, and cilantro add a bit of gusto to this distinctive dish.

Next we enjoy entrée selections and pairings of grouper with Albert Bichot Bourgogne Blanc 2012 and bone-in pork chop with Elouan Pinot Noir 2013. The gorgeous grouper arrives, skin-side-up, topped with paper-thin fried greens on a bed of pureed sweet potatoes. The fish is bursting with flavorful freshness. The dainty fried greens are delightful. And the sweet potatoes are the best I have ever tasted. The tender, juicy pork chop comes sliced, topped with a creamy, delicious whipped maple syrup. The pork is also accompanied by tasty grilled Brussels sprouts.  For dessert we share a decadent espresso chocolate mousse, which is artfully encased in a shell made of both dark and white chocolate. This luscious chocolate pairs well with our smooth, mellow 20-year-old Porto Taylor Fladgate. There is nothing quite like a new restaurant—especially one with old memories.

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