It’s not a football pub. That’s the first thing to say.

Yes, there are a couple of screens and, yes, it is named after a '80s and '90s Colombian superstar. Carlos Alberto Valderrama Palacio was a playmaker famous for both his technical prowess and his iconic moustache and large mop of blonde hair.

Hackney Gazette: England's Jamie Redknapp is tackled by Columbia's Carlos Valderrama in a friendly at Wembley in 1995England's Jamie Redknapp is tackled by Columbia's Carlos Valderrama in a friendly at Wembley in 1995 (Image: PA Archive/PA Images)

Okay, there is football, but Valderrama's in Islington is not "footbally". That’s a good thing (and I’m into football).

Instead it’s a colourful and relaxed addition to the Upper Street scene, with a retro theme.

With the pop music theme of Jack’s just up the road, and the new Sessions hall for foodies, the area is going through something of a culinary refreshment.

Valderrama’s is the brainchild of James Cochran, who is already a fixture of the area with his hit restaurant 12:51.

The 2018 Great British Menu winner’s idea for Valderrama’s is something more quick and easy, based on his Around The Cluck concept – a gourmet take on fried chicken using crispy buttermilk batter.

Hackney Gazette: Chef and restaurateur James CochranChef and restaurateur James Cochran (Image:

My dining companion had the Spice Up Your Life chicken burger while I (a struggling vegetarian) had the Veganator.

Both were packed full of flavour, which is a good thing if like me you miss the basic taste of chicken.

The Spice Up Your Life features mango chutney, pickled chillies, Bombay mix, smoked yoghurt, poppadom and coriander. A lot going on there.

The Veganator comes with gochujang chilli paste, Asian slaw, peanuts and coriander. A lot going on there too.

But there are plenty more flavours to pack in. We went for sides of fries with chicken gravy and crispy shallots, and jerk spiced fries.

And you can get dips too. Chip shop curry sauce? 12:51 x Sauce Shop scotch bonnet jam?

Hackney Gazette: Upper Street's Valderrama'sUpper Street's Valderrama's (Image:

The food matches the decor – colourful, busy, informal, satisfying.

A lot of thought has gone into the mix of textures, with a delightful crunch to everything.

Dessert comes in the form of the food of the moment, doughnuts, with some well balanced flavcoms in the mix: strawberry jam, roasted marshmallow and yoghurt; banana mousse, caramel mousse, salted peanuts.

The doughnuts are light enough to follow the burgers and, like the burgers, not to be missed.

Valderrama's is open seven days a week at 163 Upper Street. Burgers are price £11-16. Visit