The newly refurbished restaurant has a central banqueting table and cosy dark corners for overdue catch-ups and little decorative flair. We also had a peek at the subterranean late night events/private dining space, where candle-light flickers in mirrored ceiling tiles.
Courtesan serves a long, elaborate selection of dim sum and Chinese delicacies cooked up by an all-female chef team, along with an extensive cocktail selection and an innovative wine and spirit list that champions brands and grapes grown exclusively by women.
The result is a remarkably varied menu and a big fat fingers up to the persistent male dominance in the hospitality industry.
We’re so used to ultra-refined 4-meal menus, the choice is overwhelming. Dishes and drinks are described by a dash of playfulness and a sense of narrative. Along with a name and description of ingredients, each cocktail comes with a Chinese proverb, which makes for fun reading. We particularly liked the Xi Shi, a smooth, subtle concoction of 8yr old Barcardi, dry Curacao, Prosecco and Chrysanthemum honey (with the tagline: so beautiful fish forget to swim), and the fragrant floral combination of violet liqueur, jasmine tea, gin and vodka in the Wang Zhaojun (so beautiful, birds fall from heaven).
The vast menu of over 50 dishes is separated into Baked, Steamed, Fried, Bao, Noodles and Rice, Specials and Sides.
Thankfully, staff are on hand to guide you through the dishes and make suggestions. It’s well worth asking as the best dishes are the easiest to miss.
Crowd-pleasers -- Char Siu Bao Buns, made with pork that’s cured and barbequed on site -- sit alongside with more off-the-wall dishes such as italian ricotta, parsley, egg and parmesan dumplings. The Gujurati spiced pumpkin buns are a fresh new take on bao and a new standard for autumnal comfort food.
Our stand out favorite, though, was the king prawn Cheung Fun. It doesn’t sound much on paper and it’s not much to look at, but the firm fried prawns and crispy beancurd wrapped in the softest, silkiest sheets of rice noodle makes for an irresistible interplay of textures.
Booking: click here to book a table
Price: around £60+ for a meal for two with drinks
|What||Courtesan restaurant review|
|Where||Courtesan, 69-73 Atlantic Road, London, SW9 8PU | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Brixton (underground)|
01 Oct 17 – 31 Aug 19, 6:00 PM – 11:00 PM