There’s nothing better than enjoying a meal by the water’s edge in the hot summer months.
The day we chose to review The Galley was one of those exceptionally muggy summer days when everything seems like too much effort. The sun was high in the sky, and the humidity made the car ride unbearable to think about without the help of the AC.
The restaurant, located next to The Royal Malta Yacht Club in Ta' Xbiex, is blessed with an idyllic setting overlooking Marsamxett harbour – a view which I was convinced (and a little disappointed) we wouldn’t be able to enjoy from the outdoor terrace that day. Parking in the nearby parking area (an increasingly rare treat in busy Malta), my dining companion and I hurried into the restaurant for some respite from the stifling conditions. The interior, decorated in a charming beach house style, was mercifully cool and flooded with natural light, with wide, glass doors leading out to the picturesque view beyond.
"As soon as we stepped outside and headed for the terrace however, something happened."
We were warmly greeted by the manager who, upon noticing my wistful gaze at the terrace, admitted that it might be too hot to enjoy that day. Still, she helpfully welcomed us to head out and take a look for ourselves, which we gladly accepted, if only to drink in the views of Valletta’s skyline before lunch.
As soon as we stepped outside and headed for the terrace however, something happened. A subtle yet wonderfully cool breeze came right from the sea, delivering the ideal conditions for dining al fresco – just enough to take the edge of the heat without being bothersome. And as we made ourselves comfortable on one of the tables closest to the view, I couldn’t help but consider it a sign of good things to come!
The atmosphere at The Galley is casual and comfortable, with a menu that offers everything from premium meat and seasonal fish to pasta dishes, pizza and light snacks at lunch time. Being a hot day, we favoured the extensive cocktail and beer menus over the wine list, and selected chilled beer and cider options to accompany our meal.
Food decisions made, we opted for a shared starter of The Galley’s ‘famous’ fried calamari to begin with, and they didn’t disappoint! The dish was incredibly fresh and well-battered, with no excess oil – something my companion (a fried calamari connoisseur) feels very strongly about! The calamari themselves were tender with a delightful crunchy batter, and the accompanying house-made tartar sauce was delicate, working to enhance the flavour rather than take over.
Next came our mains. Having decided to keep within the seafood theme (perhaps influenced by that pleasing sea breeze), I chose the linguine vongole, while my companion went for the pan seared octopus salad. As the Maltese expression goes, “l-ewwel ma tiekol l-ghajn” (translated to ‘the eye is the first to eat’), and as the well-presented dishes arrived, we couldn’t wait to tuck in!
My linguine was a hit – fresh, light and flavourful, the clams were tossed in garlic, chilli, white wine and cherry tomatoes, which complemented the delicate seafood perfectly. As is the case with fresh fish and seafood, very little is needed to make the flavours sing, and it’s clear that the chefs know what they’re doing – little more than a sprinkling of fresh herbs was needed to finish it off.
Over on the other side of the table, my partner made quick work of the octopus salad, which he declared beautifully seared and very hearty. Cooked with potatoes, cherry tomatoes and olives, which really enhanced the flavour of the octopus, it went down a treat and quelled any concern that the dish would be too light – the generous portion is sure to satisfy even the healthiest appetite!
Our plates cleared, we sipped what remained of our drinks with satisfied bellies, taking in the stunning surroundings of Marsamxett harbour. The atmosphere was quiet, punctuated only by the odd excited cry from a group of young sailors on the pontoon of the Royal Malta Yacht Club below us. Within this serene setting, I was once again thankful for the cool breeze and pretty terrace, and can truly recommend heading over to The Galley for a peaceful escape from daily life – it's a wonderful way to while away a summer afternoon.