Courtesan – Female Only Wine List

Check out our update review here

address: 69-73 Atlantic Road, SW9 8PU

telephone: 0208 127 8677

http://www.thecourtesan.co.uk/

Last week we were invited down to one of our dinner staples, Courtesan for a brindisi to celebrate the launch of their first female-only wine list. Through my very hazy memory (there was a lot of alcohol consumption!) their reasoning behind the launch was that they wanted to highlight the rise in female wine makers in the world. Plus apparently a trhird of women are ‘super tasters’, meaning we are the bomb when it comes to pairing up flavours. Plus as dim sum is one world’s oldest cuisines, all about decadence and flavour, what better food to pair it with. It’s also vital to note that a female chef, Fengjuan, took over the kitchen six months ago and has revitalised the dim sum based menu.

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Shrub and Shutter

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address: 336 Coldharbour Lane, London SW9 8QH

telephone: 020 7326 0643

info@shrubandshutter.co.uk

http://theshrubandshutter.com/

We have visited Shrub and Shutter a few times now but on this occasion booked a table for 7.00pm on election night to sit and hope that the polls were wrong. They were but at least we were suitably lubricated to face the 10.00pm news. We sat at the back of the bar/restaurant on the last week of their current menu so all may have changed.

Drinks as usual were amazing and we thought they should have tags to ensure some unwitting vegetarian didn’t end up with chicken skin or prawns in their drink. We chose the Wonka bar – essentially a Baileys but nicer – which had gin, ice cream, almond milk, chocolate soil, truffle gold and truffle bitters. it was sweet and I saved some for dessert.

My partner in crime chose an amazing cocktail which came with a plastic tube of scotch bonnet pepper sauce to add to the drink. We were warned of how hot it was however we were far too sensationalist when it came to our pain threshold and squeezed in the lot. So be warned and try it slowly, except for those who like a Vindaloo.

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We ate from the two courses for £18.00 menu and had a glass of wine. They had a Primitivo from Italy and a Spanish white – Verdejo. We both chose duck with gingerbread and shared some asparagus. The duck was amazing, we just wished there was more of it! The asparagus was fantastic with a creamy sauce, which we had to stop ourselves from licking off the plate. Then we chose cod with barley and broccoli and the lamb with carrots.  The cod was a large meaty fillet and was cooked just right. I haven’t had barley before but it tasted bouncy and the sauce gave it a bit of a lift. The young green veg was just enough to make you feel it was contributing to your 5 of the day but only just. The lamb and the Primitivo complimented each other perfectly.

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This place is still pretty pricey, with it all coming to £67 (we got 10% knocked off for living in Brixton) but in terms of the standard of food and drinks this isn’t just another overpriced place in Brixton but one you feel deserves the price tag.

A short bus ride away No. 1 – Peckham Bazaar (Peckham)

address: 119 Consort Road, London, SE15 3RU

telephone: 0207 732 2525

reservations@peckhambazaar.com and on opentable

http://peckhambazaar.com/

This is a new venture for us … writing about where to go for that special celebration, a birthday, anniversary or even wedding breakfast. But we still want to make it local and most are only a 20 minute walk from the middle of Brixton, or only a short bus ride if you have already done your 10,000 steps that day.

Peckham Bazaar  it a only a tiny restaurant, so is perhaps the more intimate evening than a celebration. In fact they don’t take reservations for more than 6 people but we think it is definitely putting on the shortlist for a special occasion. As with many restaurants the interior is eclectic – mismatched and sometimes wobbly tables fill the tiny space so you could, if you wanted,  join in many of the other diners’ conversations. The menu changes frequently but is generally described as a Balkan barbecue and although meat and fish are the main ingredients there are a few vegetarian options too.

Choosing from octopus, squid and scallops for starters was really tough and we ended up sharing octopus with white tarama and pickled vegetables which was so delicious we forgot to take any pictures. For the next course we chose the marinated quail and baba ganoush and slow roast lamb. All this produced a floor show at the grill with everyone moving around in dance sequences interspersed with a whoosh from the grill and a slow rising of blue smoke. Some of the spices and beans I had never heard of, let alone eaten, and they were wonderful – popping flavour into the mouth, a different one for each mouthful. The portions are also larger than most and filling with the addition of beans.

Pudding was of course baklava which came with rosewater ice cream – shared as we were both full on this weekday evening. The baklava was light and different again from the usual shop bought variety.

I have never had such interesting food that didn’t make me flinch or worry about what I was eating. It had a large sprinkling of pomegranate throughout and everything looked “normal” it is just the taste that wasn’t.

We washed it down with a glass of wine and the bill came to about £60.00 (we lost the bill…). They also provide a “feast menu” at about £32.00 per head without the wine. You will definitely need to book as this is a restaurant with a local reputation and is full most nights. They are open on Sunday evenings which makes a change and are only closed on Monday. In the summer there are a few tables out at the front to help with the overflow but while it is still chilly choose inside.

Orange Bay

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address: 30 Brixton Water Lane, Brixton, London SW2 1PE

telephone:  020 3417 0674

website: https://twitter.com/orangebaybrix

email: orangebaybrixton@gmail.com

This is a restaurant that has taken over from Brixton Space that closed some time ago – see link. This corner of Tulse Hill is getting a lot more attention with not one but two restaurants opening recently. Their next door neighbour, Naughty Piglets (see link), is getting a lot more attention. But this is a Jamaican/West Indian restaurant which describes itself as a sister company of Negril on Brixton Hill (see link) which is a long time favourite of ours. It concentrates on takeaway but also offers sit down meals. We have tried to go before but we couldn’t find their phone number and they say in one place that they have no booking service. Although all information on the web refers to opening times being from 6.oopm Tuesday to Sunday they weren’t open when we arrived at 7.10pm on a Tuesday. But we persisted and on a second try we were lucky.

The décor, much of which is carried over from Brixton Space, is 60s retro with metal chairs and a banquette with cushions and metal tables that wobble unless you spend some time propping them up with napkins. The service is assiduous and we were warned about the fire sauce.

We ordered the pumpkin curry, half a jerk chicken, rice and peas, rice and gunjo and coleslaw (both the last two came with the chicken) and a Carib and Red Stripe beer to wash it all down. They also provided tap water.

ob03The half a chicken was way too much – a quarter would be ample for a normal appetite. It comes with a variety of sauces, barbecue, jerk and “fire”in increasing levels of heat and they are not exaggerating about the fire. We were glad of the tap water.

ob04In contrast the pumpkin was mild and as tasty as pumpkin curry can be. But the favourite was the rice which has spices as well as peas and was really lovely to eat until the fire sauce anesthetised my palate.

This is a very friendly place to eat and we could have lingered for longer but thought we should get home for the next heat of Masterchef. The whole bill came to £32.60 which was good value as we left very full.

Khan’s of Brixton

ress:  24 Brixton Water Lane, London SW2 1PE

Telephone: 020 7326 4460

Booking on the website too:  http://www.khansbrixton.co.uk/

Having failed to get to Orange Bay we decided to visit a nearby restaurant, Khan’s. We have already reviewed this restaurant and it hasn’t changed much. Look here for more details (LINK) but read this update. Again when we arrived it was completely empty except for the two waiters. But it did fill up over the next half an hour.

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Naughty Piglets

np01address: 28 Brixton water lane, SW2 1PE

telephone: 020 7274 7796

email: http://www.naughtypiglets.co.uk/

 

 

 

This is a new addition to the Hootananny corner near the large Sainsbury’s on Tulse Hill. The small restaurant has an open kitchen, high chairs and tables at the front and then a few places in the back. The walls are lined with lathes which we thought would deaden the sound but they didn’t. We arrived early and had a quiet meal but some of the louder clients came in while we were eating dessert and made talking difficult.

This is an up-market addition to the Brixton restaurant scene that has already been reviewed by Fay Maschler and as we ate the Evening Standard were taking pictures. It is more expensive but still in its early days. A short menu with guesses about which are the starters (the cheaper dishes), a long wine list which included “orange” wines and all have the name and the grape. However, there isn’t much for vegetarians.

For the pair of us it was a game of two halves – I chose badly. My partner chose dashi with clams, pork belly and lemon posset which were all delicious. The clams were soft and the dashi was subtle with the Japanese spices creeping up slowly. The pork was soft and the Korean spices hot with a dressed little gem lettuce providing a bit of a crunch. The lemon posset was nearly on the butter side of creamy but probably as it was very cold and the pepper in the tuile crept up slowly.

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My choices were not so good. White asparagus with an egg yolk and parmesan was good but I only had one large spear and two would have been better (especially at £8.00). Next came the most expensive dish on the menu – the bavette. The chestnut mushrooms were a delight and so was the béarnaise sauce but what should have been the star was black and bitter from the carbon. My dessert was described as chocolate milk and almonds and turned out to be chocolate ice cream. All was very sweet and not to my taste but the almond and caramel addition was wonderful – slightly salty and the nuts were the star.

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We had four glasses of alcohol – their signature cocktail (vermouth, bay leaf and soda) and a glass of sparkling Vouvray to start and then a glass of the Cahors and a Cabernet Franc. We liked all of them. The bill came to £87.00 but we did have three courses. This is a potential replacement for a favourite restaurant, Upstairs, which closed recently. We hope this one does stay, although I will complain more loudly when I don’t like my meal next time.

Because of the limited space they do need to turn the tables over at least once per night and they were clear when we had to leave and it was plenty of time to go through the menu. The lack of space means you do need to book – try on their website.

Courtesan update

address: 69-73 Atlantic Road, SW9 8PU

telephone: 0208 127 8677

http://www.thecourtesan.co.uk/

This is a little gem, filling a place in Brixton for a classier Chinese restaurant and there is lots more to read about from us here (click here for our previous post). There is now an extension  downstairs which feels like you are entering an opium den with precipitous stairs and a dark interior. But this downstairs room is surprisingly spacious and would be great for an intimate party.

Our round table for 5 was set up in a corner and other guests were around much larger table for about 12 to 18.

Dim Sum is a sort of Chinese tapas – small plates or steamer baskets of highly flavoured food to share. There are lots to choose from – steamed, fried, baked or grilled and covered in pastry, cotton wool, see through or flaky. Courtesan has enhanced the Chinese dishes with some Brixton flavours like jerk chicken sticky rice in a lotus leaf or the jerk ribs.

This  short post is just to say the food is even better. The fried squid was wonderful, jerk ribs soft and spicy and the grilled sea bass a brilliant way to start the meal. All our dishes were a delight. We had only a few as we had eaten our first course at home in case it was impossible to have a conversation – but it wasn’t. Despite the noise we contributed to the mayhem with political arguments and disagreements about student loans. The bill was about £21.00 per person including cocktails but those who are hungrier should expect to pay more as we had 8 dishes. Continue reading