By Anoop Parikh
In the good old days, chicken in Hoxton was a resolutely takeaway affair. You pitched up, usually pissed, at one of the luridly-coloured storefronts by the Old Street Roundabout, queued with people in the same state, and eventually staggered out with a greasy box filled with even greasier bird bits. Then you ate this on the bus or tube home, all the while trying to ignore the disapproving stares of fellow passengers.
In a sure sign that Hoxton now rivals Hampstead for salubriousness, that its grungy days are well and truly over, we now have Cocotte, a chicer way to indulge in everyone’s favourite animal protein.
They do takeaway and delivery, of course, but it’s worth getting out of the onesie to go and sit in the stylishly designed restaurant, or on the terrace facing the square. We visited on a sunny lunchtime, and felt as though we’d been transported to Ibiza or the South of France. It must have been the chickens turning languorously in the rotisserie, the tiled open kitchen, and the chillout soundtrack. The clientele were on message too; shirts were unbuttoned, and prayer bead bracelets replaced statement watches and jewellery.
A glass of the house white – a delicious Val de Loire Sauvignon from Domaine Garnier – echoed the holiday mood. The short and simple menu made life easy too. Just order a full, half or quarter bird, and pair it with a couple of sauces and one or two sides. The chicken was perfectly seasoned, and juicy enough to tear off the bone, before dipping in the sauces and sides. Ours included a punchy truffle mac and cheese, stupendous mashed potato, green sauce made with eight herbs, and ratatouille composed of vegetables cooked in the rotisserie.
Desserts are well crafted too. Mango ice cream encased in a mochi rice dumpling was indulgent without being silly, and two wedges of date and coconut bar had a low-key sweetness that felt right after the flavour overload that had come before.
Would we go back to Cocotte? Without a doubt, yes. If we lived around the corner, it’d be our new favourite takeaway too.
8 Hoxton Square, N1 6NU