by Tucker Chet Markus
A heavy yellow glow, the tear of a harmonica riff, fresh oysters on ice. Peel off of Orchard Street, number 14, through the doors at The Leadbelly—a Montauk surf shack and gritty speakeasy simultaneous. Inhale.
The place is hand-drawn—the childlike Garrett "People" Wasserman profiles of boys and girls greet you as you enter—and the rest is wedged between spinning vinyl and cracks in the plaster walls. Sit. Order a dozen on the half shell (selected weekly, the next seven days hold Shigokus from Washington, Ninigret Cups from Rhode Island, and Barcats from Virginia). Sip a Cucumber Julep or a Whiskey Ginger. Relax. Feel. The rhythms around you move on the ride cymbal of a Sonny Boy Williamson tune.
Opened in September of 2012, it feels part mid-century Europe, part Americana. The interior was designed by Phil Winser and Kate Dougherty—the latter’s work includes set decoration on Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. Happy hour is nightly from 6pm-8pm (Barcats are a buck-a-shuck) and if your appetite stretches into dinner, The Fat Radish’s kitchen across the street is at your service. It gets better. A rotating group of local DJs and musicians lay the vibe Thursday through Saturday night. Captured here by Winser and Dougherty is the brackish meeting point of an August breeze and the blues of Bourbon Street.
Savor the senses. The weight in your chair, the music, the company. Have an oyster. Allow place to happen to you at The Leadbelly.
Oysters are a buck-a-shuck every night from 6pm-8pm. It's the perfect time to split a couple dozen with friends while having the place mostly to yourselves.
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