BY PALOMA LACY
Michelin trained chef, winner of BBC2’s Great British Menu 2018, proprietor of an uber cool restaurant in Islington, 12:51, and now he’s brought his brand of unpretentious food to Croydon’s Boxpark.
It would seem that James Cochran continues to be the man of the moment, a culinary star shining brighter than ever before.
A staunch champion of goat meat, having used it in his main dish on the TV show he won, as well as in numerous dishes at 12:51, Cochran has well and truly set about sharing his love of the meat which, he says, is one of largest consumed in the world.
And what could he possibly have called his new Croydon restaurant: Goat, of course.
Those with a Caribbean heritage – Cochran is one – will be familiar with goat dishes, but much of the rest of the UK is still to catch up.
I must confess to being slightly sceptical as to people’s readiness to embrace goat, but if the queues last Saturday were anything to go by, hearts and minds have been well and truly won.
Even if we haven’t been brave enough to try it, we’ve all heard of and seen curried goat on menus.
This would have been an easy route to veer down and while Jamaican flavours won through, the spices Cohran chose were jerk.
As he explains: “We serve our meat on flatbreads with choices of topping such as Jamaican ginger beer pickled onions, crispy shallots, mango & lime salsa.
“If meat isn’t your thing, we have coal roasted jerk spiced cauliflower, and sides of smashed potatoes with curry sauce and goat nuggets.
“Our meat is Halal, and we can offer vegan and gluten-free options.”
So what was the food like? In short, Goat is the best new outlet to hit Boxpark in the last year, and I’m happy to come out as a goat convert.
“I tried the goat flat bread and it was simply awesome. The dish drew me in on sight. It looks as good as it tastes. Wondrously spiced meat that’ll satisfy those who like a mighty kick of scotch bonnet and I was surprised by the tenderness of the meat.
“Ginger beer pickled onions – how has no one made this discovery before?!
Give Cochran some kind of medal, please. Crispy shallots added yet another layer of flavour and depth, with a fresh and zesty salsa lifting the dish further still.”
The portion was generous – the size of a pizza so there was no room to try the sides but all the more reason for a return visit very soon. This place has to on any foodie’s hit list.