With its opulent, gold fabric-lined walls and geometric rows of polished brass lamps arrayed across the ceiling, this glossy sibling of Notting Hill’s Casa Cruz has fitted into its smart Mayfair setting like a Versace boutique on Sloane Street. For some, this is a “top-of-the-top luxury experience”, although others think it’s a case of style over substance, with complaints about high prices and noise levels.
Either way, Isabel is a jaw-droppingly beautiful statement of intent from Chilean investment banker turned designer and restaurateur, Juan Santa Cruz. Food-wise, everything revolves around a low-carb, high-protein ‘small plates’ menu that blends South American and Mediterranean influences, with on-trend lactose- and gluten-free options throughout.
Above all, expect a selection of beautifully presented, precision-tuned dishes showcasing precise flavours: rosebud-like rolls of beetroot-cured salmon with a vibrant herb purée; perfectly seasoned, silky beef tartare topped with a vibrant quail’s egg yolk; sweet red prawns, grilled and served with chimichurri.
More substantial options might include grilled suckling lamb shoulder, veal paillard with sage and lemon or wild brill with leeks and capers, as well as the addictive paccheri pasta: al dente tubes folded in a creamy cheese sauce and sprinkled with bottarga. Equally indulgent desserts span everything from dulce de leche fondant to raspberry and white chocolate gâteau.
A final mention must go to the loos – each lavishly decorated with hand-painted De Gournay wallpaper and almost as good-looking as the staff uniforms created by Colombian designer Johanna Ortiz. Not surprisingly, polished (but friendly) service completes an undeniably pretty picture.