“George’s of Galilee has been known since we started for really great traditional seafood – the kind that you would expect to be served on the beach here in South County,” said Brian Durfee, the third-generation proprietor of the landmark seaport restaurant.
Seated in a corner banquette of his newly refurbished dining room, Durfee recalled how his business has changed. “We’ve always bought local seafood right out of the port here in [Narragansett], fresh-caught flounder, for example, that would become our fish and chips.”
Durfee had gathered together some key people to talk about the next step in the evolution of the menu and approach at George’s. Chef Yulia Sampson has been creating what she called, “funky, upscale presentations of some unusual fish that some of our guests will be trying for the first time!” She’s referring to such varieties as skate, hake, dogfish, monkfish and sea robin that are flavorful and plentiful.
The sea robin is a mild, white fish that has a sweet taste. It is a small catch, weighing only about two or three pounds. The fillets can be pan seared or the whole fish can be roasted. The chef has used it in a risotto.
Skate is sometimes called “poor man’s scallop.” It is dense and meaty, while monkfish is referred to as “poor man’s lobster.” Foodies are becoming interested in these species and how good they can be when prepared with the right touch. Chef Sampson has been at George’s for seven years after emigrating from Russia.
George’s has partnered with Trace and Trust, a national organization whose mission is to connect restaurateurs and retailers. The network of food professionals – farmers, fishermen, distributors and chefs are all passionate about what they cook and sell and about telling the story of the food from beginning, where it is caught or grown, to end – at the restaurant.
Gaspar Catanzaro was at George’s on a gray, early spring afternoon to tell the story of the unusual types of seafood coming into the restaurant and how to relate the new varieties to guests.
One such type is known as smooth dogfish. Quite popular in the chip shops of London, according to Durfee, this fish tastes like cod or haddock. When I attempted to pin down chef Sampson on which it most closely resembled, she deferred to Catanzaro, who explained that it was similar in appearance and taste to the fish we are accustomed to enjoying as fish and chips, with some flakiness but also a density and meatiness.