We weren't the easiest lunch customers. Having faffed around with my booking no less than three times - "Thursday night? Sunday lunch? there's 5 of us! No, 6! No, 5!", we showed up at Salon in Brixton some of us hungover and bleary-eyed, a toddler in tow. Located above Cannon & Cannon, the meat and cheese deli in Market Row, the small dining room sat 25 or so, an open-plan kitchen small enough for only a few chefs to squidge in.
Happily we didn't have to do anything so strenuous as actually making a decision for what to eat as the menu is set. Usually 4 courses, this particular Sunday we were treated to 5 in honour of the Burn's Night passed.
A plate piled high with crispy fingers of lamb were greaseless and faultless, the breadcrumbs giving way to tender lamb shoulder within. The lamb came from Flock & Herd in Peckham, evidence of careful meat sourcing. A punchy mint sauce studded with tiny capers was essential to each bite and when we ran out of lamb, we carried on eating the sauce.
Their take on cullen skink was a comforting little bowlful, silky in texture and generous with the smoky flavour of the haddock. Seaweed flecked the soup and crunchy croutons bobbed within, retaining their crunch throughout.
Partridge was presented on a board to share, a breast and a wing each. The bird was simply cooked and accompanied with rye bread mayo; we all dipped our fingers in it for a proper taste and the rye of the bread came through well. Vibrant pickled red cabbage rounded each mouthful off nicely. Partridge isn't my favourite bird but nevertheless I gobbled my portion up.
My favourite course was the mutton faggot served with greens and mashed swede. A dense shiny meatball, it was juicier than it looked. The slight flavour of offal came through but not enough to be off-putting (I'll admit it, I'm a liver-avoider). Mashed swede was intensely sweet, offset well by the broccoli-like floret, more bitter than I'm used to.
Finally, dessert of whiskey semifreddo with poached rhubarb and oats arrived. The semifreddo, like the lightest whipped ice cream, had a just-discernible hint of whiskey. Rhubarb was served as poached sticks but also as a puree and the dish was garnished with face-puckeringly raw slivers. This was loved universally; the individual portion gifted to the kid was pilfered by the adults.
Service was sweet and accommodating; not an eyelid was batted when forks were swept onto the floor and spoons banged against the table when we didn't catch it in time. The head chef himself, Nicholas Balfe came out to introduce a few of the dishes and it's evident they have a real pride in their ingredients and dishes. At £30 for the set menu, it was great value, and we all left happy and with a mind to return.
Upstairs at Cannon & Cannon
18 Market Row
London SW9 8LD
Tel: 020 7501 9152
(Worth noting that while we took a toddler there and didn't have any problems, the bathrooms aren't really equipped with child-changing facilities.)