At The Table: Galley Bar & Grill in Malta pairs ‘homey’ feel with excellent pub fare

The Galley Bar & Grill in Malta. Inset, from left: blackened fish tacos with sriracha and cabbage, and a side of steamed broccol, and a veggie dilla, made with broccoli, cauliflower and cheese, along with house-made pico de gallo and sour cream on the side.
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The Galley Bar & Grill in Malta. Inset, from left: blackened fish tacos with sriracha and cabbage, and a side of steamed broccol, and a veggie dilla, made with broccoli, cauliflower and cheese, along with house-made pico de gallo and sour cream on the side.

MALTA The Galley Bar & Grill on Route 9, open just a year, has made us wish we had a casual restaurant nearby as friendly and reasonably priced.

“I like this place,” said my friend Amy, looking around at the cheerful light-blue-painted walls and nautical decor. “It’s homey.” Even the unused fireplace is painted blue, and that works.

The bar is in the front room, with muted television screens behind and white sheer curtains at the widows. There were two groups at tables in here, enjoying their meals served in plastic baskets lined with paper.

The tabletops are butcher block, with comfortable wooden chairs. We chose a table in the back room, where a long wooden bench along one wall put Amy in mind of a ship’s deck.

The Galley reminded me of my neighborhood place, which closed last year after 70 years. It doesn’t look anything like it, but felt like it: welcoming, relaxed and friendly. The food wasn’t fancy but was reliably good.

We smelled fried food — a good smell, not a greasy one. I took it as a positive sign. It was.

The Galley has a nautical theme, with seafood a focus of the menu, but I’d call the balance of it American cuisine. And a pleasant surprise: They offer more gluten-free options than most places.

The menu consists of the kind of casual food you’d expect from your surroundings: appetizers, sandwiches, salads and burgers, but also quesadillas and tacos.

The entrees are where you’ll find most of the seafood, such as blackened cod ($22.99); lime chili shrimp ($22.99); and a captain’s platter of fried shrimp, calamari and cod served with fries and slaw ($26.99). Shrimp and fish show up in the tacos and quesadillas, too.

The chicken parm ($19.99) is made with house marinara and comes with pasta. The Galley burger ($12.99) is on a brioche roll with tomato, onion, pickles and a side. You can get a gluten-free roll.

For a restaurant to be fully gluten-free there cannot be any gluten in the building, or any outside food brought in — even staff lunches. Many restaurants, like the Galley, take the middle ground, offering gluten-free bread and buns, pizza crusts and pasta.

On the Find Me Gluten Free website and app, locals rate the Galley Bar & Grill highly. The restaurant has two gluten-free fryers, and all of the fried food is gluten-free.

As he handed over the menus, our server announced that it was 10 for $10 wing day. “And we make good wings,” he said. That was enough to convince us.

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We started by sharing an order, medium, and the heat was spot on. I asked for crispy, which they mostly were, otherwise they were perfect. The wings are meaty, and free from those little imperfections that tell you they’re cutting corners.

A hint of vinegar smelled just right. “They are good,” Amy declared, nibbling her drumette. I liked them, too.

A small salad is $5, which seemed like a lot, but it is a big salad with fresh Romaine, sliced into bite-sized pieces so you don’t have to work, chopped tomato and onion. It hit the spot.

Sometimes a quesadilla can be a cheese bomb, but Amy pointed out that the veggie dilla ($12.99) might be sort of healthy.

The veggie dilla turned out to be quite good — and cheesy — but not crazy. It was a satisfying balance between healthy and fattening. The tortilla was crisp, the veggies cooked through but not mushy, and there was enough cheese to feel decadent.

The broccoli and cauliflower added moisture and bulk without adding weight. The small florets didn’t get crushed and were cooked just enough to retain their color and some crunch. It should have had mushrooms, according to the menu, but I didn’t miss them. It works, and I’d order it again.

It came with sour cream and house-made pico de gallo, which tasted of fresh cilantro. It would be good to see riper tomato this time of year, though.

“The tacos are delicious,” said Amy after a few bites of her blackened fish tacos ($14.99). “These are really good fish tacos,” she added after a few more.

“It’s nice there’s an option, fried or blackened,” she observed. The cabbage was slightly sweet and crunchy, the fish “moist and flaky, nicely spicy.” She liked the sriracha aioli as well. There were three tacos, on corn tortillas with sriracha and the cabbage.

She got a side of broccoli, perfectly steamed bright green, she said, and delicious. It looked like frozen, but Amy said it tasted very fresh.

“Such a good meal,” she said when we finished. That’s how I felt, too.

Husband Eric polished off the rest of the wings. “They’re pretty good,” he commented later, reaching for another. For the record, he said “mm.” Twice.

The tab for our meal, with a diet soda, taxes and tip, came to $57.15. In the near future the Galley will be passing on some of its credit card charges to customers, adding half, or 1.5% to the tab.

At the Galley I didn’t have to choose between a plate of fried food or a bowl of twigs and nuts. The menu is broad enough so that I managed to have a reasonably healthy and delicious lunch. I’d go back again to try the fish or shrimp tacos and meal-sized salads. And maybe a few french fries.

“I’d come back if it was in the neighborhood,” said Amy, a Trojan like me. I would, too. Lucky locals.

Caroline Lee is a freelance writer who lives in Troy. Reach herat [email protected].

Galley Bar & Grill

WHERE: 2839 State Route 9, Malta; (518) 886-8695; galleybarandgrill.com
WHEN: 12 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Sunday for brunch
HOW MUCH: $57.15 with one soda, tax and tip
MORE INFO: Credit cards: Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover. Large parking lot. Children’s menu. ADA compliant.

More: All NewsEverything Saratoga Springs-Ballston Spa

Categories: Food, Life and Arts, Life and Arts, Saratoga Springs

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