What's the draw
In the maze of Brixton Village, you'll find Salon: a funky little restaurant housed in the market's old hairdressers, that comes complete with an oh-so-charming wine bar and bottle shop. Led by head chef and founder Nicholas Balfe – with a helping hand from Mark Gurney (formerly of Cafe Murano) and Matt Bushnell (of Oklava) – the restaurant dishes up seasonal, European plates out of its open, post stamp-sized kitchen. Salon has been keeping Brixton happy since 2012, but the wine store only opened its doors at the tail end of 2017. That, in case you haven't already sussed it out, is what we're here for.
What to drink
If you don't at least pop your head into the wine store, you're missing the point. Oh, and while you're there don't forget that corkage is free on Sundays, too. The bottle shop, which specialises in low intervention and natural wines, is managed by Alex Prymaka, Salon's energetic wine expert. And despite how it sounds, it's neither too swanky nor too wanky. It was a £15.50 hit for our bottle of Bender's 2015 pinot noir from Pfalz, Germany – supremely sippable and full of tart red berry flavours.
What to eat
Climb up the narrow staircase and treat yourself to the informal four or seven course set menu or, like us, settle downstairs and get stuck into a round of sharing plates from the bar menu. Sweet and fiery 'nduja croquettes and the dreamy sumac-spiced pumpkin and cannelloni bean hummus with crisp sesame crackers are a must-order; as is the pasta, which is hand-made by Georgia Hine, a Padella prodigy, and Paolo Lancini. The menu regularly rotates, but we're still thinking about our forest green orecchiette, loaded with anchovy pesto and the crunch of rosemary breadcrumbs. At some point, probably about halfway through your bottle of wine, you might have an existential crisis and question the meaning of life, and sharing plates – especially if you go all in and regret agreeing to share the umami flavour bomb that is the shredded lamb with nutty celeriac puree. If you're a selfish forker, with a specially reserved dessert pocket, nip it all in the bud and play your cards. If not, roll with it, or face having to be rolled out of the door after the dark chocolate mousse and malty ice cream, made from mushroom extract, which you're obviously going to order. Because who doesn't love mushroom ice cream?
Small plates from £5.50, larger plates from £7.50. Wine from £4.5 by the glass. 20 Market Row, SW9 8LD; salonbrixton.co.uk