• Modern European• Islington
Chef-patron James Cochran worked under Brett Graham for years at both The Ledbury and The Harwood Arms. He moved on to a range of experimental pop-ups before opening his first proper solo restaurant, 1251, in Islington. He’s also a regular on TV shows, including The Great British Menu.
The long, slim dining room at 12:51 is one of its defining features, with pockets of tables at the front and a louder room at the back. Tables are close together, and music is usually pumping, which results in about as much of a party atmosphere as you get in a restaurant that still carries trappings of fine dining.
Cochran’s parentage is from both Scotland and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, which comes through in dishes that use excellent British ingredients with Caribbean flavours showing through. His fried jerk chicken with scotch bonnet jam is a favourite, while five courses for £35 is great value to experience the best of the week’s dishes.
James Cochran has been through a lot recently and, as he says, he’s learned much. I hope he carries on learning because at his best he really is touched with brilliance
A pretty irresistible case for James Cochran’s vision of cooking
And there’s a confidence to the cooking that comes with real independence. Flavours are Brit-with-a-kick – a nod to his Scottish and Caribbean roots – the composition exciting and complex, but never OTT
Highlights include unusual combinations like raw scallops with buttermilk whey, radish, apple and charcoal; pork with smoked eel, turnip kimchi, apricot and miso