Reminiscent of an old school cafeteria or lunch counter from back in the day, the Federal Galley located on the Northside of Pittsburgh, near the Children’s Museum, certainly doesn’t disappoint. It was a chilly Saturday morning, leap day to be exact, and it was obvious where many chose to spend their “extra Saturday” of the year. Federal Galley was bustling with people all around. The long, community style tables were filled with groups of friends and families enjoying the over 30 delicious brunch items available each Saturday and Sunday. While lunch and dinner are available daily, Federal Galley weekend brunch has been on my list for quite some time. Variety, fresh and quality are the name of the game and a quick look around showed that everyone found exactly the dish they were looking for.

 Brunch selections from four unique restaurant concepts, Guapo, Provision PGH, Shaka and Which Came First, can be found all under one roof, with the addition of a bar and common seating area, for all to share. Federal Galley, which is managed by the Galley Group, is a place where aspiring chefs go to launch their own culinary concept in the spirit of entrepreneurship. The Galley Group provides the space, utilities and equipment to four lucky chefs who have gone through a rigorous selection process to be given this unique opportunity. According to their website, each chef operates their restaurant “fee-free” and “rent-free” for the duration of their stay. The Galley Group takes 30% off the top line revenue to maintain the food hall and equipment and also provides marketing and business development support. The ultimate end goal for these lucky chefs is to one day move out into the world on their own and leave the “restaurant accelerator” – quite a cool concept!

 Now to the good part, the food! “Oh it’s the bomb” exclaims the cashier, as a big smile crosses her face when I order the Nutella stuffed French Toast from Which Came First. It’s a quick check-out, you are given a number and off you go to find a table! The food will be freshly prepared and delivered right to your table. Because I can’t help myself and pick just one dish, I peruse the other menus for something with a bit more substance. After studying each menu, the breakfast quesadilla from Guapo catches my eye. A quick stop at the bar for a mimosa and my breakfast order is complete!

The first to arrive is the towering Nutella stuffed French toast; two huge slices of freshly baked challah bread, stuffed with a creamy Nutella spread, sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with a side of syrup. I had to dig right in for a quick bite, even though it was supposed to be “dessert” and my main course hadn’t arrived yet. Perfectly grilled on the outside and creamy Nutella spread on the inside makes this the perfect brunch treat. Right as I dive into the first bite, the breakfast quesadilla arrives and the plate is garnished with all my favorite Mexican-style accompaniments, including sour cream, guacamole, salsa and refried beans with cheese. An unexpected surprise was also on the dish: a nice heap of perfectly crisp, seasoned breakfast potatoes. The quesadilla was filled with scrambled eggs, sausage and cheese. While I am traditionally a fan of breakfast burritos, this style was also satisfactory and a bit easier to eat.

At the end of the meal, I was certainly filled to the brim and definitely would not be looking for my next meal for quite a while, as the portions were huge. The two dishes could have easily been shared by two people. As far as cost is concerned, it was a bit pricier than your average breakfast or brunch spots. My total for two entrees and a mimosa was about $35. Federal Galley is a great spot to take a group of friends or family with a variety of different tastes, as it would surely be easy for everyone to find something they like.

While the food hit the spot, I think what is most impressive about the Federal Galley is their mission to support aspiring chefs and the local community. As it states on their website, their goal is to break down the traditionally restrictive barriers to enter the industry by giving people an opportunity. While I can suggest without doubt that you should check our Federal Galley for the food, I would recommend supporting them even more so for the mission. If you patronize this establishment, you are supporting local chefs, the future leaders of the already amazing food scene in Pittsburgh. Give it a try for brunch, lunch or dinner next time you are looking for a tasty meal – you’ll be glad you went!

By Bobby Catley