This October, chef and one-time Young Turk-affiliate Nicholas Balfe and the team behind Salon in Brixton, will open a second restaurant — further south, in Peckham — Levan. Like Salon and the energetic restaurants that followed the Young Turks pop-ups in the early 2010s — Lyle’s, the Clove Club, Dabbous, and Story — it is directly “inspired by the new wave of bistronomy that began in the quartiers of Paris and has spread through the neighbourhoods of Copenhagen and Barcelona.”
Unlike many of those restaurants though, Levan will be an all-day operation, “with a focus on contemporary European dishes, and low-intervention and natural wines.” The two-part restaurant is situated in a converted warehouse block: One side is dedicated to the bar, with high tables and window ledges, plus tables kept aside for walk-in guests. The second space will act as a dining room, fitted with mahogany-topped tables and mid-century modernist chairs.
Levan will open early in the morning for breakfast — offering seasonal pastries, baked on site, as well as sourdough tartines with house cured salmon, goat’s curd and pickled elderberries, and croque monsieur made with aged comte. Lunchtimes will “take their cue from bistro culture on the continent”: catering to working lunches with dishes like potato, chanterelle and Vacherin pie; a salad of figs, candied walnuts and Tymsboro goat’s cheese; or a slice of apple tart tatin with Ivy House cream — la creme de la creme of creme.
At dinner: “Small, inventive plates” double as snacks or starters. They’ll include Comté fries with saffron aioli; and boudin noir, egg yolk, and endive. Bigger dishes will include smoked pollack, spinach, asparagus and vin jaune; and 50-day aged rump cap, with wild garlic aioli and grilled calçots. In the spirit of Salon’s commitment to sustainability, “the kitchen will butcher whole animals and use seasonal, responsibly-sourced produce from local suppliers.”
Balfe said he was looking forward to bringing his “sustainable approach to cooking” to a what he calls a more “European style” of restaurant, which will have a focus on wines made in the left-field. “We picked the name because we’re all huge fans of Larry Levan, an iconic music producer and DJ who essentially tore up the rulebook and wrote the blueprint for what dance music would become,” he said.
“It’s this sense of freedom of expression that ties the work of Larry to the work of our favourite left-field wine-makers today, which will be a huge focus at the new restaurant. He changed the way people thought about music, and we’re seeing the beginning of a shift in the way that people think about wine.”
Balfe says he and the team will work towards what they term a “closed loop model” — whereby over 90 percent of waste is repurposed or reused, “with food waste such as herb stalks incorporated into ferments and infusions, and using spent milk from making coffees to make fresh curd cheese.”
Similarly, director and drinks boss Mark Gurney has created a “forward-thinking wine and cocktail list from small, artisanal producers.” Levan will also offer London’s “most extensive selection of wine from the Jura region of France,” — an area “known for its unusual indigenous varietals and organically-run estates.” While there is a significant wine-focus, there will of course be cocktails too — ones “built” using botanicals and tinctures and from the kitchen garden, including house-made blackcurrant leaf vermouth; rosemary pisco sours; and sweet cicely-infused margaritas.
Check back for a first look in the autumn.