£35 for 5 courses in London is great value. Add to that BYO (with no corkage!) and you’re really onto a good deal. Especially in Islington of all the boujee boroughs, huh? Say hello to 12:51 Restaurant’s Monday-Tuesday tasting menu, which is one of the best value meals I’ve had in ages and proper fancy food too. It’s the first solo venture from Great British Menu winner, James Cochran, and it’s got a prime spot on Islington’s Upper Street.
Swing by the wine shop and pick up a bottle because cost-free corkage is too good to pass up. I’ve no doubt the five-course tasting menu will switch up seasonally (if not weekly) but what we ate was excellent, inventive, and no so much food that you meant you felt like you were going to pop. Highlights from my vegetarian tasting menu were a deliciously light Jerusalem artichoke dish with a cloud-like texture on tasty sautéed slices, a delicate crispy cauliflower dish with smoked yoghurt and orange, and the barbecued leek topped with truffle, shiitake mushrooms, feta and hazelnuts. My friend’s mackerel with ‘nduja and crispy pork skin looked and smelt absolutely incredible, as did (if you’re a meat-eater) the slow braised short rib of Dexter beef.
Dessert was an XXL slice of custard tart with honey and hibiscus ice cream. Far larger than I needed but I managed to squeeze most of it in. It was too good not to! I’m still thinking about that ice cream…
I’m sure 12:51 is great everyday of the week but for particularly stellar value, book a table Monday or Tuesday and you’re going to be impressed.
12:51 BY JAMES COCHRAN, 107 UPPER STREET, LONDON, N1 1QN