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Review

Giulia Verdinelli

Levan

££££
Giulia Verdinelli

Levan is an all-day spot in Peckham that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a side of ‘welcome to your week off’. There’s the midnight blue walls, the open kitchen, records stacked haphazardly between bottles of natural wine, and seasonal European sharing plates that you’ll lick clean. Whether you come here for an accidental four-hour dinner, to escape the office for a croque madame, or for a glass of wine mid-afternoon when the kitchen’s closed, this place is the easy vacation that every Londoner needs in their arsenal. Breathe in. Breathe out. You’re about to have a good time.

See the full list of London’s Best Restaurants Of 2019.

For starters, the food here tastes how stepping off a plane into the sunshine feels. A few bites of your burrata with pear and mustard seeds and you’re awake. You’re excited. You’re suddenly in the mood for a bottle of wine. Which is good, because wine is one of the things this place does really well. Their ‘list’ is more of a book that’s divided into helpful sections like ‘something before dinner’, ‘white wines of the Jura’, and ‘skin contact’. Then each section and individual glass of wine has its own little bio. No, not ‘a brave yet bashful grape with a PH to match’ kind of bio. It’s more ‘perfumed and floral, bright, crunchy cherries’. Basically, you can come here, know fuck all about wine, and still act like a boss. Or, you could be the owner of six vineyards with a monthly subscription to Wine Enthusiast mag and have a great time chatting trousseau over apple tarte tatin with your waiter. Because the staff here really know their stuff.

Giulia Verdinelli

The servers here are your tour guides. When it comes to making your way through the menu, they’re your locals who’ve made all the mistakes so you don’t have to. ‘Nah, you don’t need the steamed greens, the purple sprouting broccoli, and the mushroom tempura if you’re getting the short rib. I’d lose the broccoli’. Levan might be serious about their food but it’s still a very laid back spot. This place is judgement free. And all the while in the background of your conversations, there are indie bands circa 2012 floating out the speakers, on a playlist that might as well be called INDIE FEEL GOOD HOLLIBOBS. Glass of wine in hand, boudin noir on your fork, it’s glorious.

When it comes to who you should bring to Levan, the holiday rules apply. This is somewhere you bring friends, family, and loved ones who would never have the audacity to say ‘wow, another bottle of white on a Wednesday night’. People you’re comfortable enough with so that you can properly sink into that feeling of relaxation. The only exception is dates. Sitting at the counter on a first date here is a serious power move. You’re armed with the fun buzz of the kitchen, some jambon de bayonne that will make that ham in your fridge ashamed of itself, and your new wingman, Levan’s book of wine. Go ahead, use it.

Our only warning about Levan is that it’s a hard place to leave. Every time we’ve been, we’ve stayed longer than we intended. One glass becomes two bottles. Some duck rillettes and caramelised celeriac ravioli turns into a three hour session with some short rib and two desserts. It’s a bubble where being stressed gets replaced by a sharp kick of serotonin, and being tipsy at 2pm on a weekday is absolutely fine. But then again, why not? You’re on holiday after all.

Food Rundown

Giulia Verdinelli
Comte Fries, Saffron Aioli

Fried potato, cheese, additional cheese, and some banging aioli. You do the math.

Duck Rillettes And Cornichons

Sure, this doesn’t necessarily look like the most appetising dish. Don’t let appearances fool you. This is excellent.

Jambon De Bayonne

If you’re just stopping by Levan for a glass of wine, this is what you should order so that your Arbois doesn’t get lonely. Entirely worth the £8.50.

Giulia Verdinelli
Boudin Noir, Caramelised Endive, Cured Egg Yolk

If there was a planet where the only thing to drink was wine, well, we’d like to go there. But only if this would also be the bread and butter necessity dish of that planet.

Burrata, Pear, Mustard Seeds, Jerusalem Artichoke

Sometimes it feels like restaurants add a bunch of things to burrata because they’ve got a herb budget and they’re not afraid to use it. Not here. Everything in this dish tastes necessary. It’s a must-order.

Giulia Verdinelli
Caramelised Celeriac Ravioli, Parsnip, Nori, Dashi Butter

One bite and this ravioli basically stands up on the table and starts shouting, ‘that’s right, I’m a celeriac ravioli and I’m fantastic’, before starting to slow dance in the dashi butter. This is very tasty. The kind of tasty that makes you picture ravioli dancing.

Potato, Wild Mushroom, And Vacherin Pie

The food at Levan sets a high bar. So even though we didn’t love this pie, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. It just wasn’t as good as some of the other dishes. Very decent pastry but we’d aim for something else.

Belted Galloway Short Rib, Carrot, Miso, Shiitake

Is it normal to write a love letter to some short rib? Asking for a friend. In all seriousness, this is the best short rib we’ve had, whilst the carrot and miso keeps it feeling fresh.

Giulia Verdinelli
Apple Tarte Tatin, Creme Fraiche

Sunglasses on. The glaze on this tarte shines like the top of a Shard on one of London’s six annual days of good weather. It’s the kind of light, flakey dessert that you’ll manage to fit in even after eight savoury small plates.

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