When siblings Marcel Gryzb and Oriona Robb were growing up they worked in the family restaurant in Poland.
30 years on and with a lot of outside experience under their belts they’ve brightened up a corner of Islington’s Upper Street and are running Galley - one of the area’s most eye-catching and popular restaurants.
(Galley on Upper Street, N1)
It’s the perfect combination of talents for the brother and sister team – Marcel trained as a chef and went to become Head Chef at one of London’s most famous fish restaurants, Randall & Aubin. Oriona worked as a stylist and personal shopper (a business she still runs in her spare time).
Galley, which is near Islington’s Cross Street and has a distinctive floral sign, serves small and large international plates with a strong focus on fresh fish. Inside is equally stylish and comfortable with a fresh vintage feel and comfortable banquette seating.
Oriona and Marcel grew up in Poland and, though the flavours at Galley are inspired by Marcel’s travels around the world, there’s an honesty to the food they prepare that stems from their upbringing.
Oriona said: “Everything about the way of life in Poland is very honest – especially when it comes to cooking. No-one cuts corners, no-one buys ready meals! Everything there is cooked from scratch. Cooking was and still is a very big part of family life.
“Marcel is my younger brother by two years and we’ve always been very close. Owning our own restaurant was something we’d dreamed of doing together. He’s just the right guy in the kitchen – he’s very calm and chilled, well organised and a born leader. He’s passionate about food and different flavours.”
Galley, which is about to celebrate its fourth birthday, is among the dozens of local independent businesses in the the Local Buyers Club, offering members 30% off weekday lunchtimes and 15% off in the evening. (Click here for info)
Having lived in Islington for a long time, Oriona always felt there was a gap in the market for a restaurant like Galley – where great seafood and meat is served in stylish surroundings with nice art and an open kitchen. She’s a regular at the Chelsea Flower Show, which provided the inspiration for the sign.
The team at Galley hope the opening of Islington Square, which should happen within the next few months, will prove good for business. Oriona added: “We’re in between Angel and Highbury and Islington stations so the development, which includes a cinema, should increase footfall in this part of town and give it more of a central feel. We think it will bring an influx of people with disposable income.”
Galley’s signature dish is a seafood platter. They change the menu regularly and use seasonal ingredients. The restaurant is getting rave reviews and regular customers include well-known singers and TV presenters.
And the family business is in safe hands – when she’s in need of a little spending money, Oriona’s 17-year-old daughter helps out with waitressing.
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