Besides food, The Monster (not a total philistine) also loves art. And so he’s had occasion to go to Larry Bell’s art studio a stone’s throw from The Monster’s office in Venice. Bell is a seminal artist and a fine man so the new restaurant Larry’s that pays homage to him better live up to his lofty name. If not he’s only two blocks away and knowing his spirit he’ll come whip the place into shape or kick someone’s ass…
It’s an open space with music pumping and a convivial vibe. Hopefully the service is better than that at the Erwin Hotel who owns this corner spot yards from the sand. The Erwin seems to live by the adage to annoy our customers is to do a job well done. Larry’s features a small but interesting menu. So here’s the first look in LA of what’s on tap at Larry’s…
Pizzas are on offer – brussel sprout, bacon, parmesan and chili vinegar – chicken Caesar salad pizza – wild mushroom, wild arugula, burrata cheese – give you a feel for what one may order. Then there are fifteen or so other items including a potted chicken liver and foie gras parfait with sweet potato jam, house made pickles and toasted brioche– Larry’s pork cheek “BLT” with beef steak tomatoes, romaine lettuce and bbq mayo– duck and pistachio pate with seasonal marmalade, house made pickles and toast. The menu is not playing it safe and not catering to the tourist crowd of Venice Beach but inside casting its lot with the hipoisie of Venice. The fact that Waterloo and City’s Brendan Collins is behind this spot lends immediate credence to it and the menu on offer.
With a wrap around bar with beer and wine on offer it may only be the second day open but already it’s already hopping.
The Monster decides on the green gazpacho served with a char grilled squid salad, smoked almonds and green grapes to start. This is a pureed gazpacho with the salad and grapes in the middle. At $10 for this small portion it is overpriced but the soup is a nice rendition and twist on the familiar. Make the portion bigger or make the price smaller or this will become a failure post haste.
The pizza special will be the main course. It features pesto with chicken, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella and feta cheeses. With a tasty, charred crust it still needs work but for opening week is nothing to be ashamed of.
Service for this early in the venture is friendly but not without hiccups. Order the pizza of the day sans olives. It comes out…with olives. Ask for bread…it never comes. The space heaters are on so high…The Monster may have sunburn. These are first week kinks. They happen. If they still occur months from now then blame the curse of the Erwin.
No need for dessert but a sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream proves too hard to pass up. It’s more cake than pudding and falls under the adage put lots of delicious ingredients together, you get a delicious dessert. That fails a bit here as the ice cream hardens the toffee which works against the dessert and makes the textures a bit off. That being said, did The Monster finish it? Of course.
The wine list is good enough for a spot like this and most bottles are correctly priced under $50. The beer list is long and has many bottles and drafts not seen on other lists. Xingu, Cevejarias Kaiser, Dark Lager from Sao Paulo, Brazil and Famosa, Cerveceria Centro Lager from Guatemala share space with more traditional Belgium, German and English drafts. And this spot will keep serving until late into the night satisfying your thirst for a beverage and a tasty treat.
All in all, Larry’s holds promise and will hopefully prove a new Venice haunt for those who want more than the tourist food most often served in these parts.
Why go? Across the street is Danny’s Deli and this isn’t that. Mercifully.
Monster rating: 3/5 Monsters
24 Windward Avenue
Venice, CA 90291