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Salon in Brixton Market Is Reopening With Wine Bar and Shop

Chef Nicholas Balfe tells Eater London his British neo-bistro is entering a new phase

Chef, Nicholas Balfe, middle with Mark Gurney and Matt Bushnell
T Mitchell

Chef Nicholas Balfe, founder and head chef of Salon, temporarily closed his Brixton Market restaurant. It will reopen with a new design, new ground floor bar and a wine shop next door next week, on Friday 1 September.

Balfe is a student of the new-Nordic new-school and assembles British ingredients according to that template. (He worked under Isaac McHale at the Clove Club pop-up at the Ten Bells pub in Shoreditch before opening Salon.) New dishes will include: baked aubergine with smoked almond cream, preserved blackberries and rainbow chard; allotment tomato with black garlic home-grown basil; and Brixton fig leaf ice cream with Wye Valley blueberries, and damson syrup.

The downstairs bar will have concertina windows, opening out onto Brixton market; shelves will stock syrups, preserves and other house-made goods available to buy. A new bar menu will feature snacks and sharing dishes including ‘nduja croquettes with aioli; slow-cooked rabbit ragu, with house-made pappardelle; and girolles, roast chestnut mushrooms, fresh coco beans, and Berkswell. The accompanying wine list will be dominated by low intervention and natural styles. There’ll be classic cocktails too.

The Salon Wine Store next door to the restaurant will be stocked with the same wines — including varieties from both the new and old worlds. Customers at the restaurant will be able to BYO from the shop for a small corkage fee, too.

Balfe told Eater London about the development of the restaurant, a project he thought would be temporary when he started it with “a few grand of savings four years ago.”

There's always been an incredible energy in Brixton, and that will never change. It's been great to have been part of the groundswell that's helped put the area back on the map as a bonafide contender for one of the best food hangouts in London.

When I first 'discovered' Brixton market, probably around summer 2010, there was this raw, entrepreneurial, very grass roots spirit about the place... the old school veg stalls and fabric dealers were interspersed with all these incredibly exciting start ups, specialising in food, coffee, crafts, clothing, and more.

The effects of gentrification in Brixton have been well documented, but as the area has evolved, it's become home to some really exciting restaurants, bars, breweries, art studios, event spaces, etc. It's an honour to have been part of that over the last five years or so, and I look forward to seeing what the next few years brings too.

About the reopening itself, Balfe said: “My situation in the business has changed recently, and for the first time ever I have two active business partners, who I'm lucky enough to count as close friends — Mark Gurney (formerly of Cafe Murano) and Matt Bushnell (fomerly of Oklava). Working alongside my mates has given the business a renewed impetus and has given me the energy and breathing space to do what I do best, without getting bogged down in stuff I'm not so good at.”

He added that “the refurb feels like the end of the first chapter for Salon. A piece of punctuation that signals the beginning of the next phase of our journey.

It's going to make the space feel fresher, more comfortable, and more designed, rather than the ramshackle — although charming — state it was in before. Hopefully it'll bring the space a bit more in line with where the see the food too, and be a welcoming place for everyone who comes to visit in the phase of our existence. Here's to the beginning of chapter two!”

18 Market Row, Brixton, London SW9 8LD