West of Kitsilano, towards the University of British Columbia, lies Jericho Beach, and with it sand, kids, dogs and volleyballs. Along the length of the beach there are spectacular views of English Bay and downtown Vancouver, the north shore mountains and Stanley Park.
At the Jericho Sailing Club and up the stairs on the beachfront, where dogs are not to be seen apparently, is The Galley Patio and Grill.
Though The Galley has been around since 1990, it flies beneath the radar for many; it's a bit out of the way and if you don't know about it, you might not find it at all, and that might be a shame.
I was introduced to the Galley about five years ago and it was a delightful find, then a hidden gem with great views and better than average beach food. Then, and now, we tend to refer to it as the deck, because that's really what it is: a long, narrow deck overlooking the beach and the skyline.
The food is modified beach-side cuisine heavy on burgers and fries.There's nothing wrong with that; it's beach food after all. In the past there seemed to be more menu choices, though it's always been a better variation on fast-food.
The Galley features local beers and BC wines, as well as espresso coffees and an ice cream bar. Customers place their orders inside and are given a vibrating device to take with them to a table; it alerts the dining patron by vibrating wildly when their food is ready to be picked up inside.
On our most recent visit we had a burger and fish tacos and ordered both with salads. The burger was loaded with cheese, mushrooms and onions, which would have been better had the meat been a bit more flavourful. It was over-cooked and the bun was plain and boring.
The fish tacos were lost in too much batter and, like the burger, the dish lacked flavour. This could have been remedied with a punchy salsa or an extra garnish of something. Anything.
Five years ago the food was definitely better. Even last year there was more zing to be found in the various menu items. It's not bad food, not at all. It's just not all that great, and there's lots of competition out there for beach-side fast food. On our walk along the beach we passed several vendors with one hot dog wagon offering what looked to be fantastic grilled snags, as someone from Oz would call them.
The Galley is relaxed and fun. It's a place for families, for groups enjoying pitchers of beer, and for couples taking in a romantic view. It might even be a place to have a wedding reception.
Not all that long ago the food was tastier and richer in all the right ways; The Galley was a destination in itself. It has lost something over the years, dumbed down like so many of Vancouver's restaurants, getting by on location or reputation, and not necessarily on the thing that brought us here in the first place. And while all of that is true, the Galley still showcases some of the finest sunsets in the city. Pity the food isn't just a wee bit better.
Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2015 by Jim Murray.