Imagine my disappointment when I arrived at my favourite Peckham bakery to find it had closed down for good.
I was gutted because the sourdough was to die for.
I wondered if it had been a victim of people baking their own bread during lockdown.
Alas, not. It had shut its doors last Christmas long before the other C-word had even entered the lexicon.
I’m pleased to report that it’s been replaced by an even better eatery.
Larry’s takes the diner from breakfast, through to lunch and onward to dinner.
The first thing I noticed was how many regulars this place has. The staff are super friendly and genuinely seem to be having fun at work – none of the usual stress levels that are more often than not apparent in a restaurant setting.
And this rubs off on the vibe of the restaurant.
The man sitting next to me asked if the overnight oats recipe had changed and out the chef came to admit that they hadn’t been soaked overnight, as is usually the case, but earlier that morning.
He embraced honesty, to explain the nuttier nature of that morning’s batch. No fibs here and the customer seemed perfectly fine with it.
None of us are perfect. For me, this was proof that it’s not the mistake that matters but the way in which it’s dealt with.
Larry’s comes to Peckham from the same team that’s behind Levan and Salon, and it opened the week lockdown started.
Few could have pulled this feat off, but somehow the team has.
I arrived as they opened at 8am and treated myself to a white chocolate miso bun as I worked during the morning, awaiting my noon lunch reservation.
A wonderfully sweet breakfast pastry with a salty edge left me very happy indeed. Again, the waitress apologised, this time for the over miso-ing of the bun, but she needn’t have bothered mentioning it. This was my first time and I wouldn’t have noticed.
It was salty and sweet and so I presumed, just as it should be. What an honest bunch this lot are. Information garnered prior to my arrival confused me greatly.
I was sure I’d read that this place was influenced by American diner culture. I couldn’t quite make the link – not in look or taste.
The menu is simple. At breakfast time, there are five choices – morning pastry, peanut butter jelly porridge, soft boiled eggs, with butter and marmite soldiers, a modern all-day breakfast, including mortadella.
What a menu – satisfying but it also made me chuckle, not once but twice.
On a recent trip to Worthing, the waitress at the hotel we stayed at told me the kitchen had no egg cups as no one ever orders boiled eggs anymore.
This was just as I attempted to order them. What did she know? The fifth item on the menu was sausage roll. I fleetingly wondered why it would be on a breakfast menu, just as a regular charged through the door to grab a coffee and sausage roll.
Lunchtime was soon upon us, and my date was late, so time to sample Szechuan bar nuts. The only trouble with bar snacks is that the general sweet, salty and piquant nature lends itself to being washed down with something alcoholic.
As my friend arrived on this warm autumn day, we agreed that it may not be too late in the year to justify an Aperol Spritz.
Sadly, no Aperol to be found here, so we settled on a Negroni Spritz, spritzed with cremant, which is so much softer than Prosecco.
I’m not a massive sparkling wine lover, I’m partial to cremant and thank the French for its existence. The only thing about the whole Larry’s experience that reminded me even remotely of an American diner was the size of the positivly divine sandwich that made its way to the table.
Thick home-made focaccia is generally a good start to any sandwich, but aubergine parmigiana really is one of tastiest I’d ever had.
A closer inspection revealed all the ingredients: aubergine, tomatoes, oregano, dried chilli, a bunch of fresh basil, a ball of mozzarella and a healthy handful of parmesan.
No restraint here, and perhaps not your everyday lunch, but once in a while it remains unbeaten.
My friend’s tagliatelle, basil and hazelnut pesto was really very good. The menu stands out because it’s not one that will be mirrored by a number of restaurants along the same stretch of road.
It’s a one off. So many of the dishes peaked my interest and not least pork schnitzel, red cabbage and gochujang, which caught my eye for so many reasons.
I love schnitzel of any meat because it’s such a simple cooking method.
I am a firm believer that red cabbage enhances any dish, particularly when pickled, and I couldn’t help but wonder what the unidentified element was. Mystery solved: it’s a Korean chilli paste, which was music to my ears.
Larry’s has it all – the food is on point, the ambience is unrivalled and as such caters for hungry mouths at any point in a day. Larry’s is at Unit 5, 12-16 Blenheim Grove, Peckham, SE15 4QL
Picture top: Food at Larry’s
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