1251 Restaurant Islington: Restaurant Review

1251, London N1: restaurant review

Read our review of 1251 in Islington, chef James Cochran's new restaurant serving seasonal modern British food in an informal environment

Looking for places to eat in Islington? Read our restaurant review of chef James Cochran’s new Islington restaurant.

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In a nutshell: Chef James Cochran’s new north London restaurant sees quirky small plates served 11 to 11, alongside Brick Brewery beers, organic wines and fragrant, grown-up cocktails.


Who’s cooking?

After developing a love of seafood in his hometown of Whitstable (check out our foodie guide to Whitstable here), James Cochran 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 taking centre stage in refined but playful dishes.

James Cochran
James Cochran

What’s the vibe?

Spread across two (funky, painted wooden) floors of this Victorian building, minutes from Angel and Highbury and Islington tube stations, the décor here is minimal but contemporary (think pink leather banquettes and modern art).

1251, London N1
1251, London, Islington

What’s the food like?

We’re told to order a couple of ‘snacks’ each before moving onto at least one or more ‘plates’ proper – but regardless of how many we order across the menu, the idea is to share. Don’t leave without ordering the fried buttermilk rabbit – it’s the best dish on the menu. Gnarly, super-crunchy and yet 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, too, 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.

Picked White and Brown Devon Crab Tartlet with Prawn Butter
Picked White and Brown Devon Crab Tartlet with Prawn Butter
Buttermilk Rabbit with Tarragon, Horseradish and Apricot
Buttermilk Rabbit with Tarragon, Horseradish and Apricot

And the drinks?

The all-organic wine list is short but jumps around the globe with interesting and crowd-pleasing grapes – from Chilean vermentino and Italian gavi to Chateauneuf-du-Pape and prosecco. There’s a good selection of gins (each served with dehydrated fruits) and tonics, while beer’s from Brick Brewery in Peckham.

The cocktails are aromatic and just as cool and considered as the food – the 1251 negroni is made with house-made vermouth infused with sweet cicely, again from Kent (check out our guide to the best places to eat and drink in Kent).

Toasted oat custard tart with raspberries
Toasted oat custard tart with raspberries

olive tip: Sit upstairs for the best natural light (we’re looking at you Instagrammers), art from the local community, and, if you get there early enough, aromas from the dehydrator.

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1251

107 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 1QN

Words by Laura Rowe

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Images by Jessica Jill