Clam shacks and chowda houses are quintessential Rhode Island, and an eatery named the Starboard Galley couldn’t be more nautical. Those factors, combined with some hard-to-beat chowder and clam cakes, made the Galley a popular place for its 11 seasons at Monahan’s Dock on the seawall in Narragansett. We’d missed it the last two summers, but now, lo and behold, it’s resurrected itself near a different part of the local shore.
This incarnation of Starboard Galley, still owned by Thomas Silvia and Molly Marks, is at a busy intersection, the last turn to Charlestown Beach and the Charlestown Breachway. Its space has versatility: room for 35 at the outdoor patio and bar; space inside for another 35, complete with a stage area for live music and dancing; even a take-out window, a nostal-gic reminder of its Narragansett personality.
Though there were a few seats inside the previous establishment, it was cramped and stuffy. This room has high ceilings, spacious booths, loads of fun bric-a-brac and memora-bilia, and a very beach-themed three-dimensional frieze on two sides of the dining room. It’s been collaged by Marks from household objects, such as a wooden dish drainer, a folding chair, empty picture frames, all painted in summery shades of yellow, green, and coral.
The Galley’s sandwich side is standard clam shack fare, with a few updates. In addition to a lobster salad roll, there’s a lobster sauté roll, chipotle in the crab sandwich, and a veggie burger among all the cheeseburger variations.
But it was the “chowda and cakes” to which we turned our immediate attention: cream-style for the two guys (our friend Gary was in tow) and plain for moi ($3.75 cup; $5.25 bowl). I love the heartiness of the Galley’s plain broth chowder, and though the fellas were a bit disappointed that the “cream” was minimal, they still found it tasty. I remember liking the tomato version, too (northern Rhode Island-style, definitely not Manhattan).
The clam cakes ($2.25 for three; $3.95 half a dozen; $6.95 a dozen) were fresh and delicious, so large they began to resemble small animals with dough appendages. Nonetheless, they were light and very non-greasy, with plenty of pepper for zing and bits of clam here and there.
We studied the dinners, and I decided that the bargain of the day was flounder fish and chips for $8. Gary chose the Starboard calamari ($10), listed as an appetizer, but more than enough for his lunch.
Bill chose the baked scallops, served with red bliss garlic mashed potatoes and a house garden salad ($18). The dinner prices are pretty standard for a mid-scale restaurant, from $15 for scrod to $22.95 for a fisherman’s platter, but if a chowder house signals an inexpensive meal to you, stick with the sandwiches or chowder with clam cakes.
Indeed, the latter had almost filled us by the time the other food arrived, so we took some nibbles and had some hefty take-out lunches for the following day. Even Gary, who loved his crispy squid rings tossed with white wine and olive oil, admitted that he could only polish off about half the order.
Bill loved the crunchy cracker crumbs atop his scallops, but his mashed potatoes were barely warm. When the server noticed he wasn’t eating them, she brought another bowl, all heated up. The cook came out to apologize that he’d been running behind in making them, explaining that the first batch had gotten cool. They were nonetheless just fine.