Levan is a brand new restaurant in Peckham, south-east London, named after the Paradise Garage DJ Larry Levan, who located reputation in past due-70s New York. Should you desire to experience a flash of this legendary dancefloor’s atmosphere, I advocate consuming three, 4 or even five glasses of pores and skin-touch Cosimo Maria Masini, then touring Levan’s bathroom. It is a softly lit, inkily painted, one-individual water closet with a speaker pumping out buoyant digital, publish-disco and storage tunes. It’s like being front and center for a live 2 am 1981 overall performance by Sylvester.
I’m now not sure if this works without the wine. Neither am I certain that any of the overdue Jonathan Gold’s Pulitzer prize-attractive restaurant critiques began along with his views at the bogs, but I am a company believer that a restaurant is almost as an awful lot about temper as it’s far food, and that the team at the back of Levan – chef Nicholas Balfe and his front-of-residence companions Mark Gurney and Matt Bushnell – are engineers of the brand new wave of fantastically at ease but surprisingly drilled hospitality.
I’m keen on Salon on Brixton’s Market Row, their first venture, but I like Levan ever so barely extra. It is a welcoming room, painted midnight blue, with an open kitchen and upbeat body of workers whom you may’t help however befriend. The menu is a bit of medieval rustique Europe with a Manhattan skeleton. It positioned me in thoughts of my liked Little Owl on Bedford Street within the West Village, any other suitable neighborhood joint with a menu that leaves you sated, rather than with a stomach coated with fragments of clarified yeast and burnt hay.
Far from it. At Levan, you may assume a list of totally enticing capacity deliciousness to be installed your paws. For example, comté fries with saffron, or tender baked onions with bleu d’Auvergne and walnuts, or a bit of pie oozing vacherin and filled with trompette mushrooms and gentle potato. Those comté “fries” are, in fact, chunks of deep-fried chickpea flour batter with a tacky center and an extra layer of powdery comté on pinnacle for extra badness. They arrive with a super puddle of sundown-colored saffron aïoli.
A sharing dish that performed at the inner food jukebox of my thoughts for numerous days after was the caramelized celeriac ravioli with dashi butter. It sounds wrong, in principle, as a conflict of hard-to‑love, nutty root veg in the delicate dough with a Japanese-motivated umami undercurrent. And it’s for all of that, but it’s also the finest vegetarian dish ever and got here with pleasing roast Jerusalem artichokes. For meaty human beings, there are the likes of Angus beef tartare with anchovy or old spot red meat chop. There also are instead stinky, earthy however ultimately devourable duck rillettes with crisp cornichons and a boudin noir on endive.
One may want to simply as without difficulty display up to Levan and share an array of the snacks – the tempura mushrooms with sesame vinaigrette and the daintily plated residence-cured sardines, say – before shifting on to an expansion of cheeses (a Swiss alpine monies and a gabarre goat’s cheese from the Loire, neither of which I’d spotted on menus someplace else). I like a dinner wherein I’m now not just guffawing, however additionally gaining knowledge of.
Likewise, Levan has an enormous wine listing favoring the sort of biodynamic European bottles that these days surely will make you appear to be a terrible dinosaur if you don’t at the least try one. Bluffer’s manual: do say, “Gosh, this natural merlot tastes so much nicer now that I understand it changed into transparently sourced from a small artisanal supplier!” Do now not say, “Sod this, I’ve sold my own Barefoot white zinfandel”, and then clank round in a mini-mart service bag at the ground.
Puddings at Levan are likely much less world-changing than the snacks and essential attractions, however, there has been an espresso and hazelnut choux pastry, as an alternative like a Paris-Brest, that became decadently charming. By this factor, I had eaten out in London three instances that day already. I’d overdue-brunched on the excellent Lino in St Paul’s and launched on the decidedly OK Brigadiers within the Bloomberg Arcade, before moving directly to Levan and stoically continuing to consume to your behalf. Even so, via 10 pm, those layers of choux and coffee-addled cream had been totally compelling. On reflection, the mont blanc after-pudding pudding and the large glass of sticky toffee apple-tinged Monbazillac had been probable needless. Levan, I such as you. Probably a piece too much. Nothing correct can come of this.