Located on foodie haven Market Row, Salon boasts a renowned chef, ever-evolving menu and an already-loyal following. Try and get a booking – it’s not easy!
Salon Brixton may have just launched but it’s already a hit. Market Row is filled with eateries inspired by cuisines from across the world so it was always going to be tricky for a new face to gain traction with picky Brixtonites, but they needn’t have worried.
Located above Cannon and Cannon Deli, the restaurant is tiny – barely containing 30 covers – and they have gone for a stripped back, simple approach to the décor. The tables are dark wood with matching chairs, and the colour scheme is neutral... dull, even. Wine barrels sit on the bar/serving counter, which in itself is a stripped back, minimalistic affair. For some, it may be a little cold, but the décor really isn’t the focus of this place. The food is where their interests lie.
Salon has that local foodie feel that attracts the sorts of Londoners who know – and appreciate – quality grub when they taste it. As a new opening it's mainly pulling in those with their finger on the culinary pulse, but with time it’s likely to attract anyone with a love of British ingredients. At the moment, bookings are tough to get with lunches only bookable between Tuesday and Sunday, and dinner Thursday to Saturday.
So why is there such interest in a small restaurant in Brixton? Well the head chef is respected Nicholas Balfe of the lauded Brunswick House Café. It’s a no brainer that he would have made headlines before the doors to Salon were opened. The menu is continually changing to utilise the freshest ingredients and the choices are set, with no a la carte option. This makes budgeting easy - £29 per person for 4-5 courses with £20 to enjoy matching wines with each course (also available separately by the glass), and it’s the same whether you fancy lunch or dinner.
And when we say set menu, we mean set menu. There are no choices, so what you get depends on the day you turn up. You can choose to pay a £5 supplement for an additional cheese course but that’s about as rebellious as you can be. Luckily, the quality is very high so unless you hate one of the ingredients it’s unlikely you’ll be left with a grumbling belly.
To start, it’s likely you’ll be served up a charcuterie of British meats, which mixes fresh, finely sliced hams and salamis that get your palate in the mood for dinner. If you’re not a charcuterie fan then never fear, this isn’t even the starter. That comes in the form of a soup, in this case celeriac and mussel. The complex mix of flavour is, quite simply, incredible, with a few plump mussels and a strong, earthy flavour courtesy of the celeriac. It’s rustic, homely and warming – ideal for a cold winter’s day.
The main course is especially impressive – pheasant cassoulet with black pudding and savoy cabbage for a heavy, gamey, meaty dish that isn’t afraid to play around with deep, rich flavours. The cassoulet is another winter warmer but edged with a level of finesse thanks to some delicate seasoning and the incredibly tender pheasant, showing off the obvious skill of the kitchen. Before you know it, if you don’t want to pay the cheese board supplement, you arrive at the quince syllabub which is deconstructed and looks a little messy on the plate – and not entirely appetising. However, it is pleasantly sweet without being overbearing and makes for a pleasant end to your meal.
Four glasses of wine are included for £20 if you choose to let the chef pick the best options to match the food for each course (recommended). If that’s enough to floor you then you can opt in and out for each course, with glasses coming in at £5-£6.50. The selection is pretty old school but there are some excellent classics, such as the Giribaldi Nebbiolo d’Alba from Piemonte, Italy. There’s not much in the way of exciting new world options but when the classics taste this good, who really cares?
The Last Word
Salon Brixton is a great addition to an area that many foodies already consider to be a little slice of heaven. One more reason to make it to Market Row.