Coastal restaurants have the one-up on food and drink establishments located in town and city centres, in my opinion.
Whether it be towering cliffs, white sand beaches or harbour fronts, there’s something about seaside scenery that I adore whilst tucking into a meal.
So when I heard that the former Galley in Whitehills, now known as The Harbour Galley, had recently reopened under new management, my boyfriend Josh and I were delighted.
It was, after all, one of our favourite local restaurants — being that we both live near Turriff — before the former owners hung up their aprons in mid-April.
I imagine many people, locals and tourists alike, were in the same boat.
Say hello to The Harbour Galley – and the newly installed lobster tank
With that said, The Galley was undeniably a popular establishment. There must be a great deal of pressure on those taking over a venue of that calibre to live up to previous expectations.
Located on Harbour Place, the harbour wasn’t going to have vanished in the space of three months (of course), so I knew we’d still have the berthed boats to admire.
Internally, it is more modern and sleek than ever before. Another change we loved was the addition of a live lobster tank, which is placed at the entrance of the restaurant area. You can’t miss it.
Should you be craving lobster, diners have the opportunity to approach the tank and select their desired one for the chef to prepare.
It doesn’t get any fresher than that…
A great-sized menu with focus on local produce
Attentive from the offset, we were greeted by two members of the team and seated at a window side table.
A pair of menus were handed to us and we ordered two Diet Cokes (£2.60 each) with a lemon wedge. Given that the sun was still shining, despite it being 6.30pm, they proved the perfect refreshment.
In terms of what other refreshments are on offer, it is solely soft drinks for the meantime. However, you can bring your own alcohol.
The Harbour Galley food menu is the type I love. It isn’t lengthy and consists of classic dishes with added flair. Cullen skink, Balmoral chicken, seafood salad, steak and black pudding pie and cranachan all feature.
On top of all that, there is a constant rotation of specials. I bet if we revisited in a week’s time, the specials menu we looked over would be completely different.
Despite there being three other tables occupied by diners – one of which was a larger party of roughly 12 people – everyone’s meals were leaving the kitchen like clockwork.
Our starters arrived within 15 minutes.
On my side of the table were the chicken goujons (£8.20). Four fried chicken tenders were served alongside a summer salad and garlic mayo.
The golden batter was almost shimmering in the sunlight. Crisp yet light, it encased juicy chunks of chicken that sliced away with ease.
Garlic mayo is always a solid accompaniment in my eyes for a chicken-based meal. This mayo was silky-smooth and had a subtle kick. As for the salad, it elevated the dish more than I expected.
Sliced tomatoes and small pieces of red onion, pepper, apple and more had been coated with a drizzling of (what I believe was) mustard dressing. Vibrant and zingy, it turned out to be the ideal-sized starter that meant I had room remaining for the main course.
Equally as inviting was Josh’s spiced halloumi salad (£8.95). He too had the same assortment of chopped fruit and veg, which we have already established was a winner.
However, his salad was topped with three uniform strips of fried halloumi, which had been coated in a variety of peppery spices. They weren’t overpowering, and instead left a lingering smoky flavour.
They paired beautifully with the sweet chilli dip, which meant there was an even distribution of sweet and spicy.
Stroganoff ‘fit for royalty’ and sampling the seafood
Plates cleared, it was time for course two. Again, the dishes took little time to prepare before we were digging right in.
There were fishermen and dog walkers passing by throughout the evening as we continued to sip away at our soft drinks.
The impressive-looking plates didn’t end with the starters, our mains were just as (if not more) enticing.
Josh was keen to put some seafood to the test, so opted for a seafood pie (£19.50).
Served in a shallow dish, it comprised tender chunks of smoked fish and a creamy sauce which were divine. Topped with a layer of mashed potatoes, the dish tasted similar to our favourite Scottish dish, Cullen skink, but that bit better.
The mash was soft once you pierced the crisp summit of the pie.
Josh’s main was served with mangetout, baby corn and tender stem broccoli, while my mushroom stroganoff (£16.95) was served with rice.
A mound of fluffy boiled rice had been placed in the centre of the plate. Surrounding it? A stew fit for royalty, in my opinion.
The stroganoff consisted of an eye-catching orange sauce with chopped mushrooms through it. They were perfectly cooked, and the sauce was velvety in texture.
I allowed my rice to absorb the succulent mixture.
Our side of triple cooked chips (£5.50) were ideal for soaking up the remains of the sauce.
While I didn’t quite manage to clean my plate — which I would have, might I add, if my jeans weren’t bursting at the seams — Josh got straight to work before ending up in the same predicament.
Dessert to go from The Harbour Galley in Whitehills
We decided to order a dessert to take away, the cheesecake of the day (£8.45). It was Toblerone.
Tucking into it later that evening, it was everything you could hope for in a cheesecake boasting a buttery biscuit base topped with a whipped, melt-in-the-mouth mixture.
Rich, dark chocolate shavings and sauce also featured.
The pair of us could not have been happier with the experience at The Harbour Galley, particularly me given that I had planned the outing to align with Josh’s 23rd birthday.
We were informed that their main focus is supporting local, another big tick, and are in close contact with a number of local businesses who supply them with their produce.
They have plans in place to display art from local artists, as well, which customers will be able to browse and purchase.
Their addition will help elevate the interior even more, and I can’t wait to stop by again to check them out for myself.
I can confirm that I’ll be ordering that mushroom stroganoff for the second time.
Address: Harbour Place, Whitehills, Banff AB45 2NQ
T: 01224 083593
Price: £72.75 for two starters, two mains, one dessert and two soft drinks
- Food: 5/5
- Service: 5/5
- Surroundings: 4/5