Salon Brixton – London SW9
July 18, 2013 § Leave a comment
This quirky yet intimate dining room, above a Brixton Market cheese shop, serves a super, seasonal set menu.
I don’t think there are many restaurants in London where I would happily sit, on my own, for 45 minutes, waiting for my date. I can now safely say that Salon Brixton is one of them…….
This summer Salon Brixton is doing a series of one off collaborations. The usual 4 course menu is being revamped and extended to 7 courses, using the same seasonal British produce and imaginative cooking techniques. I bagged myself two tickets to Salon x Niall Davidson and thought I would treat my father to the delights of Brixton. Unfortunately Heathrow chaos caused an unavoidable delay, so I found myself sitting in this tiny attic restaurant listening to buzzy beats coming from the open kitchen’s laptop speakers, clatters from the kitchen and welcoming chit chat from the staff, for close to an hour. And I felt entirely an ease.
A refreshing Elderflower Collins or two later, my father finally arrived, and our meal began.
We started with ‘Cured Scallop, Sourdough, Buttermilk’ - the scallops, silky and tender contrasted beautifully with the crunch of the toasted sourdough, all brought together with the flavoursome buttermilk. A very good start indeed! The ‘Monkfish Liver, Rhubarb, Salted Strawberries, Elderflower‘ that followed was less convincing as a dish for me personally as the unusual combination wasn’t quite to my palette, however, each component was fabulously well cooked and the elegant presentation could not have been faulted.
A meaty, meaty ‘Bone Marrow Broth’ arrived next, with pickled dulse (a seaweed) lurking in the bottom of the bowl – I gleefully scooped it out, very much enjoying the ever so slightly slimy texture of the seawater plant.
A pleasantly surprisingly meaty dish of ‘Cod Wing, Nettles, Gooseberries, Roe’ which followed the delectable ‘Raw Longhorn’ served on a toasted kale leaf, was my dish of the evening, until the arrival of the piece de resistance – ‘Longhorn Forequarter, Sour Cream, Nasturtiums’. Served on what one assumes must have been a cow’s hip bone, were several generous slices of soft, tender, perfectly cooked, incredibly tasty Longhorn Forequarter. I am not someone who is often inclined to order steak as a main meal however were it always to be of this caliber, I might well revise my preference. The light, fresh sour cream which was served on the side, only added to the dish although was by no means necessary to complete it.
After such a cacophony of different flavours, the beautifully fresh ‘Raw Milk Curds, Berries, Honey’ was a perfectly satisfying end; the intense sweetness of the fresh honey injecting a sparkle into the subtly flavoured summer dessert.
Salon x Niall Davidson was a one off pairing that worked a charm. Despite the, at times quite uncomfortable heat (it was the hottest day of the year!!) and the ever increasing noise from the packed little tables, (a clear sign that everyone else was having as good a time as we were) the meal really was all about the food. Each dish was entirely unique – there was no silly theme with a constantly reappearing ingredient, as there so often is with long set menus – and each dish delivered something quite wonderful and different. This was not an evening for those looking for a quiet, romantic meal of comfort food, but you can go anywhere for that. This was a night to enjoy great food and great wine with great company, in a basic, buzzing attic joint – so if that sounds like your cup of tea, put Salon Brixton on your to do list. And don’t worry if your guest is tardy, just sit back, relax, and enjoy the wait.
Salon Brixton will be playing host to several other similar evenings this summer, but the bar has now been set so I only hope what follows can stand up to the test.
Acknowledgements: thanks to both Nicholas Balfe, Niall Davidson and the Brixton Salon team for such a wonderful evening, and to Dad, for finally turning up.