SquareMeal Review of
Following a 2017 refurb, Brixton cocktail-slinger and dim-sum purveyor Courtesan has upped its game. A new distressed frontage and an exotic oriental ground-floor liquor lounge hint at steamy 1920s Hong Kong, while the film-noir basement bar (reached via a red neon-lit staircase) is the kind of trippy Beijing-style bordello that would excite David Lynch (he of Twin Peaks fame). Polished burlesque, quirky cabaret, jazz jams, all-girl DJ sets and sundry esoteric entertainments figure on an appealing bill – although the real stars are racy rinses and sexy stirs such as Raspberry Hanky-Panky or Treacherous Heart (plum wine, Cognac and red bean with a chilli hit). Made without MSG or preservatives, the long list of dim sum is a delight: order creamy salmon, pumpkin and courgette dumplings, teriyaki tofu, ‘magical mushroom bags’ or monk’s vegetables from a line-up that’s also big on bao buns (try the ‘naughty sausage’ version). Noodle and rice dishes appear alongside specials such as fiery deep-fried frog’s legs or peppered cashew-coated minced crab and prawn claws. Green, jasmine and gunpowder are top of the teas.