It’s not everyday you get a guided tour through a restaurants menu from the person who knows it best, the owner, but that’s exactly what happened when fellow blog writer Tom and I visited Courtesan Dim Sum last week. Having lived a stones through from this Brixton based restaurant for a year it’s mysterious facade had always intrigued me so it felt like ticking one of the list when I finally made it.
Courtesan do two things really well, cocktails and Dim Sum. The Dim Sum taste as good as they look and there is room for experimentation as Crocodile and Frog legs both feature on the menu.
We tried the house special Courtesan cocktail made with morcello cherry, cherry liqueur, vodka and prosecco. This was sweet and light. We also tried the Xi Shi, which was havana rum with dry curacao, prosecco and honey – strong but well balanced.
It was really nice to have someone else do the ordering as it meant we tried a far wider range of dishes than would normally be the case. Dim Sum, like tapas, is ideal in a small group as the dishes are all perfect for sharing, doing it this way also leads to a sampling a bigger variety of dishes. Traditionally a small afternoon meal meaning literally ‘touch the heart’, Courtesan break tradition and keep Dim Sum as the star of the menu throughout the day and night, and why not, they certainly do it well.
We started with some deep friend calamari, alongside stormy seaweed which was wet in texture as opposed to the crispy stuff you may expect. We then tried Cheung Fun which was different to Dim Sum I had eaten before, these are steamed rice noodle sheets rolled with fillings of which we tried the roast pork, prawn with bean curd and vegetables with bean curd.
For me the highlight of the meal was the trio of steamed dumplings which consisted of prawn & crab, wasabi king prawn and scallop and shrimp, beautifully presented and delicious.
On this visit we also tried desert, which I must say is not something I usually have in Asian restaurants, but as part of the full experience we tried both the black sesame balls and sweet red buns, if I’m honest these weren’t completely to my taste but they were interesting and looked great.
Final Thoughts –
Courtesan is a full rounded experience with an interesting cocktail list, carefully selected wines and quality Dim Sum. It’s also about the atmosphere as the restaurant is themed to represent mourning the death of the titular Courtesan with a specially commissioned painting taking centre stage and the walls have a tear stain effect. The narrow windows which from the outside make Courtesan seem intriguing add to the feel of the place and whilst still giving you a glimpse of the outside don’t make you feel overlooked.
Courtesan also have a small private room downstairs with it’s own bar and a 5am license, perfect for a special occasion.