Restaurant Review: Salon (Brixton)

There is a trust deficit.

People buying social media followers; match-fixing in sport; paid-for TripAdvisor reviews; and politicians … let’s just not go there.

Perhaps that’s why we choose what we do differently these days; maybe that’s why the recommendations of friends and our own selection of ‘influencers‘ offer a more trustworthy selection of ‘must do‘ tastes, sounds, stays, sights and sensations.

Every day at the deli, we enthusiastically scribble on post-its and scraps of paper, thrusting them in the hands of customers who we hope will head to our favourite restaurant/beach/hill/market … every week, our newsletter features the experiences we encourage others to seek out, the tunes we love, the inspiring souls we want to connect folk to … and we are constantly astonished that people choose to follow our trail of breadcrumbs to the safety of our recommendations.

BUT

It’s what we do too.

And so, when friends whose opinions we value send us to Salon, in the Brixton Village market, with warm words of culinary encouragement ringing in our ears, we trust their judgement unreservedly. That trust is not misplaced.

Notwithstanding we had turned up the previous evening just to say hi to chef Nicholas Balfe and Director Mark Gurney when we’d clearly fallen in with a bad crowd (each other) and two bottles of full flavour red wine (washed down with pizza!), we received the warmest of welcomes.

The relaxed informality of Salon’s front of house belies an attentiveness and attention to detail that would not be out of place in the finest of fine dining establishments. That said,  Salon is most assuredly …

like fine dining, but without any of the fuss

Mark had clearly spotted that we both routinely loiter in and around Instagram so our table near the window was picked to maximise lighting … unusually, therefore, we have a gallery of images to remind us of a dazzling menu of Summer tastes. From mouth-watering amuse bouches – the subtle elderflower mayo accompanying samphire tempura contrasted delightfully with the punchy ‘Nduja croquettes – through the vibrant greens and whites of peas and squid to the cleverly textured sweetbreads, all crisp outers and melt-in-the-mouth centres, this was a playful tasting menu that kept the taste buds guessing.

In a twist with the norm, Mr Deli took the fork in the road marked ‘vegetarian’ and headed for grilled courgette with baba ganoush, basil and almond (railing momentarily against the perceived wisdom that he is ‘The Reluctant Vegetarian‘) … Mrs Deli went full Blackdown Hills hogget, a rich, luxurious lamb dish with the tang of onions to cut through the moreishness.

The table next to us went with the accompanying wine flight, which they loved, and which Megan and Chloe – the front of house team – explained with the same impressive detail they displayed when it came to the food. We eased through a fabulous bottle of Albariño, a wine resonant of evenings spent in the sultry Summer heat of Barcelona.

Brixton lacked nothing in terms of sultriness on a warm July evening … and the tastes, atmosphere and service on offer at Salon hit every high note imaginable.

The trust we placed in the judgement and recommendations of friends whose opinions we value was repaid in full with the offering we unearthed in buzzing Brixton. On the off chance that we fall into that bracket of trusted guides, we unreservedly offer you Salon.