The bar at Gallina.
I had been to Gallina once before for an emergency late-night chicken sandwich (no other restaurants in the neighborhood were serving food at that hour), which was delicious and enjoyed on the terrace on a warm summer evening. When I recently read that they also offered macaroni and cheese – for me the ultimate comfort food – I knew I had to get back there soon. Chicken, especially rotisserie chicken, is another great comfort food. That is supposed to be Gallina’s specialty, but it also offers other kinds of meat, including pork and rabbit.
In anticipation of my order of free-range chicken and homemade (everything is, promises the menu) mac and cheese, I was willing to overlook the dark, no-decor (except for the pre-existing bar, mirrored wall and handsome floor tiles) interior and the complete lack of concern about presentation.
My friend had ordered the pork belly with figs, which came with roasted potatoes. Unexpectedly, he enjoyed his meal far more than I did. The pork dish was so tasty that I
thought he would eat the plate to get every last drop of the jus. I was not nearly so happy with my quarter-chicken. First of all, the friendly young waiter did not ask whether I preferred light or dark meat. I didn’t think about it until
a breast arrived with the wing attached. Needless to say, I prefer dark meat. The chicken was not very hot or succulent (a bit dry, in fact), but it had a nice flavor.
The mac and cheese was a big disappointment. It tasted of one of the smellier French cheeses (Reblochon, we thought, but the server later told us it was made with Emmenthal and Parmesan). It had been imperfectly microwaved and wasn’t in the least creamy, as a good m&c should be. I was crestfallen.
For dessert, we shared a chocolate tart consisting of a chocolate biscuit crust topped with a layer of white chocolate and a thick layer of hard, fridge-cold chocolate decorated with three sad, tasteless, out-of-season half- strawberries. It was obviously homemade
and actually tasted quite good, made as it was with quality chocolate. We scarfed it down.
The verdict: this is a well-intentioned place designed for a trendy young crowd (cocktails available and DJ on duty on Saturday nights) that doesn’t live up to its reputation.
For a restaurant catering to young people, it is really quite expensive, especially when you consider that it cost more for my three dishes (€24.50) at Gallina than it did for a wonderful three-course lunch (€24) at Istr last last week. Now that I think of it, that late-night chicken sandwich was also quite expensive, but in that case, I was just grateful to find a friendly place that would give me something to eat.