The setting in which Salon is located is nothing short of cinematic. Just around the corner from Electric Avenue, tucked into the elbow Brixton Market, the double-level restaurant is as replete with charm as anything you’ve seen filmed in a romcom. The dining area winds around a bar to the first floor. The windows look out onto the covered alleyway and still retain the paintwork from the erstwhile business that occupied the premises (hint: it begins with an ‘S’).
The recent refurb was overseen by architect HH+ and designer Finch Munro. Upstairs you’re within reachable distance of the kitchen staff, there are a slew of intimate tables of reclaimed timber situated opposite marine blue banquettes and dark grey fabrics. Open shelves in front of the kitchens display an array of preserves and pickles prepared in house. In juxtaposition with the amiable clamour of the Market, the interiors at Salon are a bit more buttoned-up and grown-up.
However, the food remains the major player in the show. Founder and head chef Nicholas Balfe plays with flavour the way an impressionist painter plays with colour, and the four-course tasting menu is a steal at £33. We opted for the wine pairing and were duly rewarded. A first course of ponzu mackerel crudo served salted rainbow chard and damson ketchup (the wild plums were foraged by the staff during the refurb) was paired with an unoaked Domaine des Cognettes chardonnay from the Loire.
This was followed by a dish of coco beans served with pickled girolles and chervil. Ideal for the season, the hearty flavours played well with a Prunecchio Tuscan sauvignon. McCreedy Carver duck served with pickled blackberries, toasted corn, roasted corn puree and watercress was given ballast by a moody Fatalone primitivo which really teased out the dark cherry notes in the dish. Finally, Brixton fig leaf with buttermilk, almond and blueberries was a fresh yet autumnal send-off. It really felt like a taste of the harvest.
Salon led the way with a one-choice tasting menu when it originally opened. We anticipated that it will continue to do so.
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