Galley and Garden named one of America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants 2018 by Wine Enthusiast.
By Jan Walsh, Photography by Wine Enthusiast and Beau Gustafson
My favorite table at the Galley and Garden is the chef’s table in the wine room. Here vintage, first class—and first growth—wines are displayed under lock and key, in wine cabinets with antique bronze screens in this 1,500-bottle capacity cellar. And above these racks are personal wine lockers of VIP patrons. Through the years, I have dined here for holidays and private events at the wine room’s mahogany and iron chef’s table, which is flanked by private redwood cabinets with bronzed screens housing their internationally prized wines. I recall such memorable offerings as a 1935 vintage of Chateau d’Yquem, 1982 Chateau Margaux, 1964 Chateau Petrus, Pomerol, 1972 Chateau Cheval Blanc, St. Emilion, and a 10-year vertical of Harlan Estate, 1991-2000.
Thus, it was no surprise to me to learn that Galley and Garden is now being recognized nationally and internationally for its wine collection. It was named Best of Award of Excellence 2018 by Wine Spectator, which it consistently wins. Wine Enthusiast also honors restaurants that focus on wine with its annual awards for 100 Best Wine Restaurants. And this year Galley and Garden was among the winners! View Award. It was the only Alabama restaurant among the winners and was one of only 20 from the South. Chef James Boyce and his wife and Sommelier Suzan Boyce recently accepted the award in New York. The Boyces own the restaurant with their partner, Ed Hardin, Jr., a Birmingham attorney.
“Inside Birmingham’s 110-year-old Merritt House, this restaurant has Alabama’s largest wine list, featuring over 500 labels with particular depth in Bordeaux and domestic Pinot Noir. It’s a match for food that merges French, New American and Southern influences,” states Wine Enthusiast. And they named as the “Dish We Love,” the Fried green tomatoes with Beeler’s bacon and house pimento cheese.
Of course, the restaurant’s fare, service, must also be among the country’s best to make this exclusive list. Galley and Garden wows diners with its modern American-French with Southern influence cuisine. “Each day and every evening we strive for excellence with regard to our food, with our wine selection and guidance and with our service, explains Chef Boyce. “We are pleased and honored that one of the premiere wine magazines in the world has seen fit to praise our efforts.”
Chef Boyce’s life and business partner agrees. “A glass of wine by itself can be a wonderful thing, but when it’s paired with fresh, amazing food, it ascends to an altogether different level,” describes Suzane. “My job, as sommelier, is grounded in a sense, by the craftmanship that comes from our kitchen. It’s a joy to pair wines with the array of meats, seafood, and vegetables that make up our ever-changing menu at Galley and Garden.”
Both James and Suzane are alumni of the Culinary Institute of America. They each have decades of experience in several other of America’s best restaurants before opening their own restaurants. In addition to Galley and Garden, their other restaurants include Pane e Vino, and Commerce Kitchen, and Cotton Row, which also boasts a 1,500 bottle wine collection of old world and new world wines and was also named Best of Award of Excellence 2018 by Wine Spectator.