1251, LONDON N1
Chef James Cochran’s new north London restaurant sees quirky small plates served from 11am to 11pm, alongside Brick Brewery beers, organic wines and fragrant, grown-up cocktails. After developing a love of seafood in his hometown of Whitstable, James learnt his craft in the Michelin-starred kitchens of The Ledbury and The Harwood Arms before opening his first restaurant, James Cochran EC3. In his latest project, 1251 sees Kentish produce take centre stage in refined but playful dishes.
Spread across two funky, painted wooden floors of a Victorian building, minutes from Angel and Highbury & Islington tube stations, the décor is minimal but contemporary with pink leather banquettes and modern art. We’re advised to order a couple of ‘snacks’ each before moving on to at least one or more ‘plates’ proper – the idea is to share.
Don’t leave without ordering the fried buttermilk rabbit – it’s the best dish on the menu. Gnarly and super crunchy, but still juicy and tender, it gets even better thanks to some arty blobs of sweet apricot, fragrant tarragon and a snow shower of freshly grated horseradish. Smoked kipper and leek toastie, with sweet, crunchy brioche slices, is perfectly balanced and so good that you’ll probably need to order a second. Potato ‘spaghetti’ comes cloaked in a hollandaise-like burnt butter cream with generous gratings of truffle and cured egg yolk, while a plate of pork piles on the flavour with blood pudding, turnip kimchi, miso and smoked eel (it works). Desserts are equally experimental – toasted oat custard tart with raspberries is pepped up with pepper.