Lunch At The Recently Opened Gallery In Duffield
Wowsers! There’s trendy, then there’s super trendy! Those were my initial thoughts as I stepped through the door at Duffield’s newest hot spot, The Gallery, for lunch after being invited along by co-owner Carly. This beautiful venue is only in its second week of trading as they were expecting approval to come in the New Year, but fortune shone down on them and the inspectors came in early.
The Gallery’s interior is mainly monochrome, the only touch of colour coming via the taupe banquette seats in the front area and the festive Poinsettia in the window behind our table! A moody, matte black covers the walls and ceiling and sleek wall downlights, cage pendant lights above tables and in windows, and recessed ceiling lights in the main area provide the illumination.
Seating and tables are a mix of heights and we were seated on high, mid-back chairs at our square, black marble-effect table; the standard height tables are mainly paired with the aforementioned banquette seating, apart from a couple near the kitchen that have black mid-back, free standing chairs with them.
Bright neon signs proudly display the business name and logo, the other decorative touches coming from the monochrome prints of golden-age Hollywood screen, stage and music icons and large decorative mirrors.
Clearly The Gallery is geared up for night-time frivolities (just ask the master mixologist to show you his cocktail repertoire!) and offers Tapas on Friday and Saturday 5-9pm, but we went along to sample the Brunch menu which is served until 3pm every trading day. You are more than welcome to pop in for coffee and cake, too.
As soon as we stepped inside we were greeted warmly and this continued throughout our stay, coming from every single member of the team. The first thing we did was order some drinks: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc for me and a cheeky Gavi for The Man – with it being lunch time we settled for 175ml glasses, though I was sorely tempted by a large 250ml glass, I won’t lie! The wine list is pretty impressive, but then with Angelo and wife Carly (from neighbouring venue, Angelo’s) being co-owners you wouldn’t expect anything less. We also asked for some table water and the glasses that The Gallery uses deserve special mention; they have a gorgeous fluted/ribbed finish to them that catches the light beautifully. I know, I’m such a girl at times!!
To kick our lunch off, we ordered deep fried Parmesan and Herb Polenta Bites with a Polenta Crust, Falafels with a Tomato Salsa Dip, and Flatbreads with Whipped Feta, Roast Pepper Salsa and Avocado Mayo dips; all priced £5.95. Chef was running a tight ship and from our table we could see all the action in the open kitchen; our tummies rumbled as we spied our morsels being finished off and popped onto the pass.
We tucked into the super crisp Polenta Bites first, smiling happily at each other as that first audible crunch met our eardrums and then as the pungent flavour of Parmesan hit our palates. The smoothness of Polenta (cornmeal) contrasted brilliantly with the crisp outer, so that stimulated our senses immediately, but subtly bringing up the rear was a delicate herby freshness that softened the cheese’s ardour nicely. These minxes are superb…especially with the dry, fruity boldness and crisp acidity of the Sauvignon Blanc!
Our server extraordinaire was the marvellous Myra and she brought over a large platter of flatbreads that surrounded their trio of colourful dips, and the quintet of Falafels partnered by their ruby toned Tomato Salsa. Whilst we chatted, The Man and I tore up the breads and dunked them into the dips – naturally I went straight for the Avo Mayo and was delighted by its creamy silkiness on my tongue. His Nibs went for the Black Pepper-pimped whipped Feta and this was gorgeously tangy, its light salty zip dancing on The Man’s taste buds, momentarily distracting him from its moreish creaminess. Roasting peppers concentrates their flavour and, partnered with the sweet Onions and Tomatoes, they made for a beautifully flavoursome Salsa – in fact it was so tasty that His Nibs scraped every last bit of it up with his finger!
We both agreed that the warming spices in the surprisingly filling, medium textured Falafels were just the thing on a cold winter day, and partnered with a tangy Tomato salsa they were a joy to eat. A lot of folks dismiss Falafels and, to be fair, they don’t sound like the most exciting item on a menu, but by golly, do they pack a wallop in your mouth; and they’re very filling thanks to the Chick Peas fibre content.
Myra had been keeping an eye on our progress and checked that we were enjoying our meal so far (which we most certainly were) and a while later returned to clear away the clean platters back to the kitchen. Whilst she was at our side, Myra asked if we’d like the main courses straight away or if we’d like a little pause in proceedings, which I thought was a lovely, considerate touch.
For his main course The Man opted for Welsh Rarebit (£10.95), a choice he had made pretty quickly; I, on the other hand had vacillated between the Open Face Scandi Sandwich (£12.95) and the Mushroom Philly Cheese (£12.95) which I planned to upgrade to the Fillet Steak option for an extra £2. In the end, I chose the classic combination of Smoked Salmon, Sour Cream and Dill that comprised the Scandi temptress. We also ordered a couple of sides: Truffle, Rosemary and Parmesan pimped skin-on Fries (£4.95) and a bowl of House ‘Slaw (a tempting mix of Kale, Carrot, White Onion and Pumpkin Seeds, £3.95).
His Nibs’ Welsh Rarebit was, to say the least, plentiful; the large plate was covered by toasted Bloomer bread, upon which was the Cheese, Cream, Bacon and Spring Onion Bechamel sauce and sunny-yolked fried Egg. A green salad sat proudly at the side, adding colour and coolness to this lunchtime treat. Sometimes no words are necessary to convey emotions and, on this occasion, The Man’s broad smile said it all: this was hitting all the pleasure centres buttons. Chef had balanced all the tastes and textures in the dish brilliantly to tantalise the palate, and he’d jolly well nailed it!
Adding to the cheese theme of his meal, the fully-loaded Parmesan topping on his super-tasty Fries were doing the conga inside his mouth, and the clean flavour of Rosemary, partnered by the intense earthiness of Truffle, made this humble ‘side’ into something remarkable. I had gone for something a little off-piste, too, with my House ‘Slaw choice; Pumpkin seeds added an injection of texture and the shredded Kale was nicely chewy and grassy tasting in its raw form. Sometimes Coleslaw can be a bit ‘beige’ but that certainly wasn’t the case here! This ‘Slaw had lots of crunch and chew, as well as colour, so there’s a lot to like about it. Personally, it was just a bit too ‘wet’ for my personal taste, but The Man loved it; I’m dead fussy about how much Mayo should be on a Coleslaw and, being honest, unless I make it myself it just won’t be perfect. Everyone else in the world will love it 100%, rather than the 99% I loved it.
My main course was comprised of two thin slices of dense, malty Rye Bread that had been lavishly topped with slices of silky, oily, Smoked Salmon and a generous salad of pickled Red Onion, julienned Beetroot and verdant, crunchy Pea Shoots was spilling over the fish and bread, so large was it! I was pleased to see that the rich Sour Cream and chopped fresh Dill combo was safely housed in a separate pot, not that I’m picky about ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ foods touching, more that I like to add the amount I personally like. Thanks to this thoughtful touch from Chef, I got the exact balance of flavours that my palate loved and you’ll be able to do the same.
Our tummies were fit to burst; so much so that we even skipped coffee! That hardly ever happens and definitely not at lunchtime, so you can imagine how generous the portions are at The Gallery. During our time munching, we’d had a chat with Ryan (The Gallery’s co-owner), Becca (the beautifully glam manageress), as well as Myra so we were feeling very popular although, to be fair, they were chatting away with everyone that was dining and/or drinking in The Gallery. We couldn’t fault any aspect of our experience: the environment, service and food were all spot on, so why not go and check it out for yourselves? Hot Wings happily awarded to Duffield’s newest venue in town, and thank you to the lovely Carly (gutted to not have seen you, it’s been ages!) for kindly inviting us along.
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