31692_Courtesan-in-bar-DSCF0101-LoA three minute walk from Brixton station on Atlantic Road is this unassuming Dim Sum restaurant. From the outside it doesn’t look like much, and even on first glance as you walk inside you would be forgiven for thinking that the owners had let this place go a bit! But once you sit down and really take in your surroundings,  you’ll notice that actually a lot of thought has been put into the interior of this dimly lit restaurant. As Dim Sum dishes originated as exquisite meals for the Royal Court, this restaurant has taken the theme of regality and run with it, infusing it within the restaurants decor, as well as the menu – delicate wood work that frames the way through to the main restaurant from the bar, that features a large wooden birdcage. It is understated elegance. The walls at first did remind me of what the walls of a sweaty club look like when the lights come on at the end of the night, but when viewed with the other elegant elements of the room you soon realise that was not the aim!

382Onto the Dim Sum – of course one of my favourite cuisines, I was excited to see a good mix of dishes on the menu, some familiar to me and some completely brand new! We chose a good selection of the standard dim sum favourites; King Prawn Dumplings, Pork Buns, Char Sui buns, Duck Spring Rolls and Roast Duck Puff as well as a few that I wouldn’t usually associate with dim sum, such as the deep fried squid.

CourtesanDimSumBrixton-1904The Char Sui buns were fantastic. The texture of the bun was soft and fluffy, and the honey and ginger pork middle was sweet and tender. If you’ve never tried these before I would obviously suggest you do, and expect to compare the experience to that of biting into an edible pillow. Equally great were the Roast duck puffs, which are somewhat similar to a sausage roll with a sweet glaze and a sprinkling of sesame seeds, except with duck instead of pork… the duck was sweet while the pastry was crumbly and well baked.

I wasn’t completely sold on the deep fried squid however. It is essentially calamari and should probably just be kept as a pub lunch option rather than included on a dim sum menu, but the King Prawn Dumplings were great. They didn’t hold back on the portion of king prawn included within the dumpling, so it was meaty and satisfying.

If you are familiar with dim sum and want to be a little more adventurous than these staple winning dishes, you may want to try one of the oddities on the menu such as the Crocodile bites. I didn’t really fancy them on this occasion as I was trying to limit the cost of the meal, which came to around £50 for two, including a glass of wine and two beers, but next time I think i’ll definitely give them a try. If the rest of the meal is anything to go by, i’m sure they’ll be very tasty.

Happy Chinese New Year, everyone.