Under new chef Neil Ferguson, Galley Beach has changed quite a bit from previous years. Starting with the required valet parking charge of $15, the experience has gotten more expensive, although the service and view remain as elegant as ever.
Ferguson’s menu features a bit more meat and a bit less seafood and with smaller portions and higher prices. While it is possible to order a couple of appetizers for a full meal rather than the intended appetizer-entrée combination, the appetizer portions are very small indeed, usually around 5 or 6 bites.
We started with a dish called “Warm, buttered rock crab and white asparagus, sweet onion cream” for $26 which had several white asparagus stalks and a bit of crab and cream and an overall tarragon flavor. It was tasty enough but exceptionally small on the plate.
Our other appetizer was their version of the island’s ubiquitous beet salad “Salad of marinated and roasted beets, smoked goats cheese, pine nut” for $18. The marinated beets were extremely good, and the portions small, and for something this simple, the price seemed rather high.
We also noted a neighbor’s salad “Local farm tomatoes, chilled melon, prosciutto, vinaigrette mielleuse” for $19 which was well constructed but just as minuscule and pricey as the other appetizers.
One of us ordered an actual entrée for the second course, “Grilled veal medallions, Thumbelina carrots, red onion jam, baby chard, carrot-raisin jus” for an eye-popping $52. This was 3 pieces of carrots and raisins over 3 slices of medium rare veal. The veal was moist, tender and flavorful, but the price for this simple dish was preposterous.
The other of us tried ordering a scallop appetizer as a second course “Sea scallops, roasted fingerling potatoes, herb salad, truffle dressing” for $22, but was pretty disappointed to discover it only contained two scallops. They were well prepared and relatively filling however.
While we didn’t try them, we noted that the fluke and halibut preparations looked exceptionally plain: just fish sitting on a bed of spinach for $37 and $38.
The wines by the glass include two chardonnays: Starry Night (Russian River, $17) and Newton (Napa, $22). We tried both and think you should avoid the Starry Night. Since these are both wines that retail for about $20 a bottle, and their wholesale cost is typically half of list, and there are four glasses in a bottle, this represents an eight-fold markup, more or less in keeping with the high prices at Galley Beach.
The veal and the beet salad were actually quite good, but we came away from Galley Beach still hungry and, before tip, $210 poorer, including 3 glasses of wine and one cocktail. Between the valet parking and high menu prices, this is not a welcoming experience.