Friday, 10 May 2013
Salon, Brixton Market
Objectively, Salon - ostensibly a showcase restaurant for the products sold at the Cannon & Cannon deli - are a very solid little operation serving decent British (or largely British) food in an airy room above Brixton Market and are charging very little money for it. It's possibly unfortunate for them that I made my second trip to Broadway Market and to Sabel this Sunday just gone, who are doing this thing that much better (in fact probably better than anyone else), but if you find yourself near Electric Avenue with £15 burning a hole in your pocket you can certainly do much worse.
N'duja croquettes were an attractive golden brown, had a nice crunch and came perched on blobs of ketchup and surrounded by leaves of chicory. I'd have liked a bit more of a kick from the n'duja, and there was something about the ketchup that felt a bit... low-rent, but I was happy enough to eat them. Which I guess is the point.
Welsh Rarebit was a bit wrong, though - a thick, disconcertingly brown gunk laid on brown bread, grilled too timidly to have any of that nice golden crust you get on a good bit of rarebit (see: St John, Farringdon). Pickled walnuts were a nice touch, but there's only so much bitterly beer-y, salty mixture the consistency of snot you can eat before feeling a bit queasy. We didn't finish it.
Dexter beef - they didn't specify the cut but I'm guessing onglet - had plenty of flavour and was cooked well if you ignore the fact it didn't have a char. It's probably a bit mean criticising a restaurant like this for not having a charcoal grill, as often it's a licensing/extraction issue and out of their hands, but there has never been a bit of beef in the history of the world that isn't better cooked over coals. Still, not bad.
Suffolk chorizo with Jersey Royals was nice too, and oddly enough suffered from the opposite problem as the beef as there was way too much of it all - mainly potato. The chorizo had plenty of punch and bite, and the potatoes were little bouncy balls of flavour, but my friend pointed out that leaving those furry leaves on the radishes has way more benefit to visual aesthetics than taste, and there was quite a bit of salty butter swimming about underneath it all.
Still, all said and done, it was a hearty old lunch for £15 a head and we'd had a nice time. It's great fun, too, looking out over the market while you eat, where, as anyone who's ever been to Brixton Market will know, entertainment in various forms is never in short supply. A marvellously gooey rye, baked fresh that morning, was way better than you usually get as a house bread and, slathered in salty butter, made a fantastic appetiser. So Salon are doing enough right that the odd misstep doesn't matter so much. On the days I don't fancy trekking over to Broadway Market, I will be back.