Isabel is a fairly new restaurant in Mayfair that serves Mediterranean cuisine. Isabel is the sister restaurant to Casa Cruz in Notting Hill – we haven’t been to Casa Cruz just yet, but we plan to go soon. You probably haven’t heard of Isabel because they consider themselves to be super exclusive. Their website is basic and have literally no presence on social media. I don’t usually go for these opulent restaurants with opulent clientele, but the menu looked good and it was my turn to choose a restaurant. To be fair, I had no idea how lavish the restaurant is until Amen was looking for the dress code and all he found was “jacket required” on OpenTable. We went for smart, but Amen did not wear a dinner jacket.
When we arrived, I was expecting a bit of a frosty reception from the hosts as Amen had read reviews that said they were cold and a little rude. But we didn’t experience that, they were friendly and all smiles. The restaurant itself is beautiful. Fairly odd note, but they also put a lot of effort in the restroom. It’s definitely unique, a booth with gold flamingos painted on the walls and marble fixtures.
Dining out for us is as much about the ambience and overall experience as it is about the food. However, we wouldn’t happily compromise on the latter. Our waitress was very attentive, friendly and gave us an in-depth run through of the menu. Essentially, the concept is small plates designed for sharing – like tapas. We love tapas, Amen more than I.
What we ordered
We ordered the grilled baby peppers, Goats Cheese Pizzette, Chorizo Pizzette, burrata, and Raw Tuna, and the Beef Short Rib Ravioli as “starters”. For mains, Aji Chicken and Grilled Iberico Pluma with Sweet Potatoes and Avocado Chilli on the side.
Review of the food
The pizzetes are basically mini pizza’s. Now, I love pizza. You literally can’t go wrong but at Isabel they weren’t special, just passable.
The burrata came with some crispy bread, it was nice and light. But there wasn’t much to the dish, very basic (in comparison to the Test Kitchen’s Burrata). Although, it did taste utterly fresh and you can tell they care about their produce sourcing.
Amen’s Raw Tuna wasn’t amazing, but he enjoyed it. It’s simple, and if you like raw tuna like he does then you will enjoy it. His beef short rib ravioli was really good, the beef filling was very tasty, the pasta was well cooked, and the sauce was delicious. I tried it and I loved it.
For “mains” I had the chicken, which was the breast piece. It was quite spicy, full of flavour and I really enjoyed it. But I would have preferred it if it was a more succulent part of the chicken, like the thigh.
Amen’s “main” was the iberico pluma, he thought the pork was delicious and he loved the rich sauce that came with it.
The sweet potato sides were very thinly sliced and grilled, we loved it. It was both soft and crispy. But I have no idea why I ordered the Avocado. They were essentially avocado – with some chilli flakes on top.
We really wanted a dessert and was hoping there was something promising. There were a few options for us to give a go and we went for the Dulce De Leche fondant which you have to allow 15 minutes to prepare. We love a warm dessert, so we didn’t mind the wait. It was perfect. Warm with chocolate oozing from the centre, just the way it should. We loved it so much we wish we got one each.
The restaurant is not entirely about food but more on the ambience and drinks at the bar. As you know, we don’t drink, so great food is a must. For the food, Isabel is not really for us. But their service was excellent and if you want to have drinks at the bar with small snacks then it is perfect. It’s a really beautiful place and has an after-hours “Dragon Room”. It’s ideal for romantic dinners, opulent dining and mid to large groups (4-6).
Dress Code: Smart & Elegant
Shiima’s Star Dish: Beef Short Rib Ravioli
Amen’s Star Dish: Dulce de Leche Fondant
Price: £50+ each (excluding alcohol)
Rating: 3 out of 5