My courtship with Courtesan…
If you're down in that-there London, head to Brixton for some 1920s, Shanghai clubs vibe. The Dim Sum and cocktails are sublime.
I miss London.
There, I said it. I love Northamptonshire but I do recall fondly my years of living and working in the smoke. I always had an affinity with the south west too. It was my old stomping ground if you like, so I was very keen when I saw Brixton had a chic destination venue with AMAZING cocktails I’d never heard of.
Relaunched only last month after an extensive refurbishment, Courtesan is a gorgeous dim sum restaurant, tea room, cocktail bar and subterranean late-night entertainment space – ooooh yes please – and it knocked my country socks off with its Far East, exotic escapism.
Showcasing dramatic re-styled interiors and exteriors, a new food menu, and an all-female produced drinks list, Courtesan transported me and my very willing dinner partner to a world that combines the exoticism and rituals of ancient china with the legendary clubs of 1920s Shanghai.
Hammant Patel Villa the owner is super friendly (and very knowledgeable) and told us all about the Courtesans who were exotic mistresses supported and given anything they could ever want by wealthy men (hmmm, maybe I’m in the wrong job).
I loved the decor and the whole ambiance but most importantly the food is amazing and there’s LOTS of choice. The Dim Sum was some of the best I’ve had, and the inventive menu uses modern ingredients from around the globe (the owners’ Mum is Italian – if my cocktail addled brain recalls correctly – and there was some lovely Italian fusion with tortellini).
Alongside Dim Sum there are Noodle Dishes, Rice Dishes, Bao Buns and an ever-changing list of specials, focusing on MSG and preservative-free ingredients, with extensive vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options (for the ever-growing meat free and intolerant community).
I’ve mostly used their photos, as it was very dark and mine came out a bit blurry (too many cocktails, moi ; ) but I included these spare ribs because they were just DELISH! Crispy, meaty and seasoned beautifully!
As I mentioned, the Courtesan bar boasts the World’s first true ‘female’ wine and spirit list, supplying drinks produced or grown exclusively by women. Cocktails are heady and exotic, and draw from Asian ingredients such as Lapsang Souchong Tea, Poppy Liqueur, Jasmine Tea and Beetroot Powder. Courtesan Ruth below was a winner (as were a few more, ahem)!
And to keep me and my south west London based friend coming back, the venue is introducing ‘Courtesan Lates’ shows on Friday and Saturdays, including burlesque and cabaret acts, live jazz music, DJs, parties and West End performers. Thursday nights are dedicated to vintage jazz, Fridays will see female DJs playing soul and disco from all over the world, while Saturdays are all about burlesque featuring regular performers such as Vicky Butterfly, Eliza DeLite, Suri Sumatra and Exotic Luna Rosa.
For an all-round food, drink and entertainment experience, you really can’t go wrong here. We trusted the staff implicitly and let them pick our selection of food AND cocktails which were both top-notch. Thankfully my dining companion had the foresight to order an Uber at 11pm where I was duly deposited on the seat waving enthusiastic goodbyes to my new best friends of Courtesan…where it has to be said, I was courted most beautifully.
Courtesan, 69-73 Atlantic Road, Brixton SW9 8PU.