The Beauty Of The Neighborhood Joint

by Bob Schwartz

Larry’s is a neighborhood joint. It is as beautiful as any place in America.

Whether or not you find Larry’s depends on circumstances. If you live here, you’ll likely miss it. If you travel here you’ll certainly miss it. Some other restaurant or bar will be your destination—maybe a ubiquitous chain, maybe a celebrated hot spot frequented by the better people.

Ironically, one of those other destinations is just a few doors down the block. There you can get a Seafood Platter (8oz Lobster Tail, 2 Scallops & Crab Cake) for $46.95. Or a Filet Mignon for $39.95 (the Peppercorn Bearnaise Sauce will be $3.95 extra).

Friday at Larry’s, the special is the Fish Platter for $8.95: a mound of fries, a small dish of cole slaw, and all the fresh fried pollock you can eat. The traditional Catholic practice of abstaining from meat on Fridays has faded, but there are plenty of Catholics here, some of whom may have graduated from the old school. Besides, when a tradition is this delicious, who cares?

The dozen or so booths and tables crowded into Larry’s are filled, as is the bar. There is football on the TV. The guy at the next table looks to be a spry 90 years old, and has probably been coming to Larry’s for many of them. Unscientifically, it may be what has kept him going this long.

You might see Larry’s or someplace like it on the Food Channel. Guy will bite into one of the sauerkraut balls, smack his lips, and roll his eyes in delight. Possible but less likely is that a Presidential candidate might stop by and, if he’s not one who’s abstaining, grab a beer.

But this Friday night, Larry’s isn’t a set for a show or campaign. It is where people eat and drink for a very reasonable price, surrounded by friendly people, served by friendly people who will keep bringing you fish until the kitchen runs out. It’s America and it’s beautiful.