Don’t let its mouthful of a moniker put you off, says MARK TAYLOR. This Gloucester Road gaff is definitely worth a gander
It’s pronounced ‘Gal-uh-maw-free’ and it’s loosely translated as a ‘hotchpotch’ or, according to the website, ‘a hodgepodge stew of humble ingredients made on the galleys’. Gallimaufry also means making the best out of what’s available to you, which is certainly what they’ve done at this buzzing Gloucester Road bar, restaurant and live music venue.
It’s two-and-a-half years since the old Prom music bar closed down almost overnight and reappeared a few days later as The Gallimaufry. There are still a few nicotine-stained gig posters on one of the walls in the bar – a permanent reminder of its previous incarnation as a sweaty and boozy live music venue.
During that time, it has made an appearance in the prestigious Good Food Guide and can count pop-star-of-the-moment (and former Bristol student) George Ezra among its famous musical alumni.
Set across two floors, The Galli (as the regulars refer to it) has a cool look with its mix of vibrant and arresting local artwork, vintage curios, upcycled and recycled furnishings and rustic boho touches. The Reclaimers, further up Gloucester Road, provided much of the furniture for the bar, and customers can buy many of the items in the bar and restaurant. For fear of having my table, chair and, more importantly, my dinner taken away from me mid-mouthful by an eager-eyed bargain-hunter, I headed straight to the cosy mezzanine dining area and started to order from the menu.
Jamie’s something of a whiz when it comes to wines, but he steered me towards the beers on this occasion and the Berkshire-brewed Siren Undercurrent was a spot-on choice. An American pale ale, it is made with oatmeal and not overly hopped, which made it an ideal partner for my food choices.
Another new face at The Galli is chef Ian Clark, who I remember cooking some excellent food at The Olive Shed when I was there last year. His new menu at The Galli has a similar Mediterranean influence and South West sourcing policy, with most of the ingredients coming from local suppliers.
One of the most popular options here is the Galli Brunch served between noon and 3pm, and this menu takes in sandwiches served with fries and coleslaw as well as more robust lunchtime options such as shakshuka (eggs poached in spicy tomato sauce) and the Galli Hangover Cure (mackerel, chorizo, potato, peppers, baked egg and bread). Those of a less fragile nature might be tempted by onglet steak, confit tomatoes and chips or beetroot, pine nut, watercress, goat’s cheese and balsamic caramel.
As well as the brunch menu, there is a 20-strong list of ‘Galli Plates’ served from noon until 10pm (Tuesday to Saturday). These small plates change all the time and vary in size/price, but you could eat very well and still get change from a tenner. As is often the case when faced with such a roll-call of gastronomic delights, I got carried away and ordered too much – but that might reflect more on the generosity of the kitchen than my gluttony.
Galician octopus salad (£6) was a robust dish packed with succulent tentacles, slices of firm and waxy potatoes, lots of chopped dill and an assertive, lemony dressing.
It was followed by a surprisingly large and (not-so) ‘small plate’ of lamb breast, Merguez sausage, butter beans and black olives (£8), served in a cast-iron pan that was still bubbling and spitting as it was placed on the table. Rich, meaty and big on flavour, the three spicy sausages and two wheels of rolled lamb breast were jostling for space in the thick, tomatoey butter bean and olive sauce. It was not a dish for the faint-hearted.
To finish, a subtly flavoured cardamon crème brûlée (£5) may have benefited with a pinch more cardamon, but it was well made with a brittle, glass-like veneer and served with a maamoul, a sesame seed-encrusted Middle Eastern-style cookie with a layer of date compote running through the centre.
Enjoyable food served in a quirkily cool bohemian setting, The Gallimaufry may be translated as ‘hotchpotch’, but this is one place that, happily, doesn’t live up to its name.