Launching a new business is stressful under any circumstances. But one of the co-owners of Larry’s in Peckham says they could see ‘a dark cloud coming towards them’ in the week they opened their new restaurant. The all-day diner inspired by New York’s Italian-American and Jewish delis began service on a Monday – and was shuttered by the Thursday that very same week. Lockdown meant that Larry’s had a four-day soft launch followed by a four-month hiatus.
Now, though, the restaurant from the team behind neighbouring Levan and Brixton’s Salon is getting into its groove – suitable, given its namesake, legendary NYC DJ Larry Levan (‘not Larry David’, co-founder Mark Gurney insists). It’s one of those places where there’s a persistent wave of people trying their luck to get in on the door, where the dishes come out ‘when they’re ready’ and where staff add to the informality – with quips about balancing those plates on tiny tables now also occupied with hand-san dispensers – with a natural ease that helps you forget all about the C word.
Retro orange laminate tables and garishly green school-canteen-style chairs are now fewer in number to allow for social distancing – and it was a small space already. Add to the room its bold all-day dishes and a vintage sound system and it could be that Larry’s provides a slap to the senses that people are craving straight off the back of humdrum lockdown.
If you only eat one thing
‘We’ve cherry-picked everything we love about eating in New York,’ says fellow founder Nicholas Balfe. So you can drop in for babka in the morning or a meatball marinara sub for lunch. But dinner dishes are of an even punchier ilk. Go for pork schnitzel served with red cabbage and gochujang mayo (£14.50). FYI, it would be rude not to order potato latkes with fermented chilli mayo (£4.50) on the side.
If you only drink one thing
There’s a short list of low-intervention wines by the glass, and descriptions like ‘pinky red’ on the menu should help guide your decision-making process. But if you’re not finishing up with a slice of New York-style white chocolate cheesecake, order Larry’s Horn (£10) – a cocktail dreamed up by Gurney in lockdown that he describes as a twist on the Reverse Manhattan.
Larry’s is now open (again!) at Unit 5, 12-16 Blenheim Grove, SE15 4QL.
Hungry for more? Check out our list of London’s best restaurants.