Courtesan Dim Sum
69-73 Atlantic Road, SW9 8PU
0208 127 8677
This is a little gem, filling a place in Brixton for a classier Chinese restaurant. The unassuming entrance leads into a bar area filled with golden birdcages and low lights. The restaurant decor is not the eclectic throw it together kind – it is simple with matching tables and comfortable chairs and benches. Lighting is Chinese style but not on the bling side – no red lanterns. It is an area of calm – until the tables begin to be filled.
This is a Dim Sum restaurant with a Brixton flare. We have the usual steamed Dim Sum (prawn, chicken and roast pork) but there is the oddball of jerk chicken in rice wrapped in a palm leaf. This looked relatively unassuming when it arrived – just green on the outside and white on the inside. But it was really delicious – full of ginger with not a hint of chilli but a big dose that grew in warmth but didn’t overpower the delicate rice and the really well cooked chicken.
We also had our staple – fried squid which came with a topping of scented pepper and a dipping sauce of chilli and tomato. We were expecting more of the chilli and one of us supplemented it with the extra chilis on the table. The chicken and coriander steamed dumplings were simply flavoured so you could taste all the ingredients.
We also decided to try the sweets – that is what they were…very …very sweet. The rose sorbet was a bit cloying and perhaps they should try essence instead of so much syrup. The warm black sesame balls were unusual and we decided they were interesting enough to try again.
We chose three dishes each and there was enough – although the heartier appetites might try four dishes to be on the safe side. Most dishes come in groups of three so you can easily share. There is also good advice on how much to choose.
Drinks too are for the safe – various pots of tea such as the Dragonwell which seems to be their staple tea. The beer is also an adventure – one rose flavoured beer called the Animee was surprisingly refreshing, but could not be consumed in copious amounts, the second had the scent of honey but not sweet taste – from Mexico. There is also a good list of wines by the bottle. On the other hand and not for the faint hearted are the cocktails. We had the Courtier, whisky and lapsong souchong tea and the Wang Zhaojun, which mainly tasted of watered down Parma violets.
Service was with a smile and we had all three of the waitresses over the course of the meal. For around 20 quid each this is quite pricey for Brixton, but serves as more of a special occasion place to dine in Brixton than perhaps other eateries. We were there early on a Wednesday and they were filling up so perhaps later in the week it would be an idea to book for this welcome addition to Brixton’s cuisines.