Restaurant Review: Isabel Mayfair
With its gold-fabric lined walls, mirrored ebony bar and polished brass lamps adorning the ceiling, Mayfair hotspot Isabel is certainly a feast for the eyes. Opened in 2017 by Chilean banker turned restaurateur Juan Santa Cruz, it’s the sister venture to the glossy Casa Cruz in Notting Hill, designed as a more feminine counterpart – the name apparently a tribute to Santa Cruz’s grandmother.
Everything here is polished to perfection. Upon arrival you’ll be greeted by hostesses dressed in glamorous outfits custom-made by Colombian designer Johanna Ortiz. Venture down a wooden hallway to find the gilded dining room, which is decked out in a mix of Art Deco and Chinoiserie décor and filled with suitably well-heeled diners – who glow even more than usual under the light of 300 overhead lamps, designed to enhance skin tones. Perhaps the most Instagram-friendly of all, though, are the bathrooms, with each loo featuring hand-painted wallpaper from de Gournay.
Aside from the jaw-dropping interiors, go here for refined, fresh dishes that blend South American and Mediterranean cuisine, with a focus on sharing plates. The restaurant is well-known for its free-from, low-carb options – but carnivores and hungry diners will be well-catered for too.
Begin with a couple of nibbles from the appetizers menu – rock oysters, for instance, or Padron peppers – before getting stuck into the starters. Options include tuna tartare with ponzu dressing, wild sea bass ceviche, burrata and heirloom tomatoes. For the main event, choose between a selection of luxurious Italian-inspired dishes – crab tagliolini, truffle risotto – and a grill menu offering meat and fish options such as wagyu steak, jumbo prawns and Iberico pork. Dessert highlights, meanwhile, include Eton Mess, matcha cheesecake and champagne poached pear with hazelnut.
The cocktail menu is another highlight, with summer offerings including the Dragon Iced Tea, a mix of vodka, Earl Grey tea and dragon fruit, as well as the zingy Machu Picchu: organic Cachacha blended with violet, yerba mate, lime and ginger beer. An extensive wine list, meanwhile, offers plenty of red, white, rose and sparkling varieties.
Buzzy atmosphere got you in the mood for dancing? A silk-walled after-hours bar and dancefloor awaits downstairs, complete with velvet banquettes and a DJ – but here’s the catch: it’s invitation only. Sip your cocktails, put on your best smile and wait for the nod. We have our fingers crossed for you.