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Restaurant Review: The Galley, Topsham in Devon

There’s nothing quite like eating a meal and being able to see the land of the farmer, who supplies meat to the restaurant you are sitting in. That’s what you call locally sourced. And The Galley in Topsham, Devon is very proud of where its food comes from and the fact that it is so local, fresh and of the highest quality.

The décor has a rustic feel with lots of character, showcased by low ceilings and wood beams, with white painted pillars, bare brick walls, wood tables and local artworks on the walls. Image credit: Nick Hook

The seafood restaurant has stood for decades, offering up quality delights and is celebrating 9 years with its current owners, who have stayed true to what works by serving up simple seafood, prepared in delicious ways. You certainly can’t miss the restaurant as the outside of the building is painted a royal blue with blue and white striped awning. I visited one lunchtime and thoroughly enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere in the restaurant, which was very welcoming, as was the friendliness of our waiter, who happened to also be the owner’s son.

The décor has a rustic feel with lots of character, showcased by low ceilings and wood beams, with white painted pillars, bare brick walls, wood tables and local artworks on the walls. There are windows that stretch the width of the eatery, giving you the best of the view through the buildings. The view comprises of a barge undergoing restoration, the waters of an estuary trickling past and sun-drenched hills in the distance, beyond that farmland. Sounds pretty picturesque doesn’t it?

The restaurant says it’s “passionate about serving the freshest seafood, simply and stylishly presented”. Image credit: Nick Hook

So, the setting was there but what about the food? The menu offers 5 options for starter and the same for main as well as a set lunch offer for one, two or three courses. I always take it as a positive sign if a menu isn’t crammed with options as it shows the fewer dishes are well-thought out, with more time to care about the preparation of each one. After a sampling of the fresh bread, which came with oil, butter and a nutty curry crunch in which to dip, I made my choices of crab to start, followed by sea bream. The dressed Devon crab was served with a garam masala spiced crab mayo, pickled red onion, cucumber and coriander (£9) and was a fresh and flavoursome dish. The crab held the strong flavours well, while some crunchy cucumber (the perfect pairing for crab) and lettuce leaves added a lightness to the pretty dish.

The restaurant was awarded Gold in the Taste of the West Awards 2019. Image credit: Nick Hook

My main course of black sea bream with confit hasselback potato, green beans, crayfish and a heritage tomato dressing (£22) was an absolute delight, leaving me trying to savour every morsel. The skins of the fish and potato were both beautifully crisp, while the delicious crayfish and flesh of the fish were top-notch. The citrusy salsa with tomato, capers and oil was full of flavour and really uplifted the dish, while some green beans were very welcome too.

I shared desserts with my dining partner and we went for the peach Melba with vanilla ice cream, raspberry coulis and almond biscuit as well as the dark chocolate delice with salted caramel sauce, hazelnuts and crème fraiche. The two offered a nice contrast with the peach dish offering sharp and fruity flavours, crunchy warming biscuit pieces and a gentle ice cream to create a summery dish, while the chocolate was rich and sweet, perhaps a little heavy for summer, but both were equally as delicious.

Head Chef Jason Mead uses only the finest local ingredients. Image credit: Nick Hook

In a nutshell

I felt like I could sit there all day with the sun shining, the calming view and the relaxed nature of the restaurant (perhaps the Chardonnay helped too). The food on the plate is the most important aspect of all and it was well-portioned, full of flavour, texture and great quality ingredients. I would return here for the sea bream dish with no hesitation.

Address: 41 Fore St, Topsham, Exeter EX3 0HU / 01392 876078