Isla at The Standard

Modern European·
££££
·
Silver Award

SquareMeal Review of Isla at The Standard

Silver Award

For years, this concrete landmark facing St Pancras was part of the all-pervading greyness of King’s Cross. Now, though, the former Camden Council offices have been transformed into the first UK outpost of Standard Hotels, with a jaunty red external lift symbolising the fact that King’s Cross has been treated to a glow-up from grim to gorgeous.

Inside, things are as designer-led as you would expect from a hotel group originally founded in West Hollywood by André Balazs of Chiltern Firehouse fame. The whole hotel looks like a retro living room from the late 60s or early 70s, the kind of place Austin Powers or Ron Burgundy might call home.

The same can be said for The Standard’s ground-floor restaurant, Isla, which is a mish-mash of geometric patterns, random knick-knacks and walls clad with blue shag pile (there’s a buzzy street-side terrace too, with less in-your-face theming).

Despite all of the camp and kitsch, Isla manages to feel frighteningly cool. Isla’s look may be vintage, but its approach to dining is thoroughly modern, a mood established by the edgy young staff and the decision to hire chef-to-watch Adam Rawson, who previously headed up the kitchen at Marylebone’s Pachamama and was crowned Young British Foodie’s Chef of the Year in 2015.

Rawson’s menu takes in a selection of small sharing plates which are divided into ‘snacks’, ‘from the sea’, ‘from the soil’ and ‘from the land’. Several of the dishes come with unexpected twists – take the burrata, which arrives at the table dressed with slices of pickled courgette, combining the dish’s traditional creaminess with a sharper edge that makes for an intriguing contrast of flavours.

Rawson’s bold way with flavour is repeated with a sweet crab salad draped with intensely saline seaweed, while elsewhere clean-tasting, crunchy slices of daikon cut through the lush fattiness of Iberico pork slices.

The star of the show however is the fuzi – diamond-shaped pasta which has been showered with black truffle and cep mushroom shavings. It’s filling and indulgent, and is probably the closest thing to comfort food on an otherwise health-conscious menu.

Desserts include sticky miso-slicked fudge, and a bowl of strawberries and cream that tastes like summer in a bowl, finished off with a layering of crunch from crushed biscuit, while drinks are covered by cocktails and a predominantly natural wine list.

If you don’t have time for dinner, head to Double Standard (Isla’s neighbouring bar) for quirky cocktails and far-from-average bar snacks. Come September, meanwhile, Peter Sanchez-Iglesias of Casamia in Bristol is launching a restaurant on the hotel’s top floor.

Despite its name, it’s clear that this hotel, and the food it serves, is anything but standard.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
Cuisines
Modern European
Ambience
Cool, Fun, Lively, Quirky
Food Occasions
All day dining, Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch
Alfresco And Views
Outside seating, Terrace
Special Features
Vegetarian options
People
Dates, Group dining [8+]

About Isla at The Standard

The gentrification of King’s Cross ploughs ahead at break-neck speed with the arrival of the first UK outpost of Standard Hotels. Just a moment’s walk from King’s Cross station, and in the same neighbourhood as dining hubs Granary Square Brasserie and Coal Drops Yard, The Standard sets itself apart from the crowd with its bright red external lift.

This riot of colour continues once you’re inside, thanks to the retro aesthetic of the dining room at Isla, The Standard’s ground-floor restaurant (the hotel’s flagship restaurant Decimo, headed up by chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias, is found on the top floor). Isla’s look is mostly inspired by the 60s and 70s, which means you can expect to find vibrant pops of colour alongside geometric patterns and clashing prints, including walls covered in blue-hued shag pile.

If Isla’s look is all about being kitsch and over the top, it’s safe to say that the restaurant’s food menu is more restrained. Headed up by chef Adam Rawson, who was previously in charge of the kitchen at Marylebone’s Pachamama, the food at Isla is focused on carefully sourced produce and well-executed dishes. At  breakfast, you’ll find the likes of banana pancakes or a cheese toastie with tamarind sauce, while later in the day the menu consists of a selection of sharing plates.

You can begin with snacks such as bread paired with cultured butter or whisky-cured salmon, before moving on to the likes of Iberico pork with chimichurri and daikon or glazed koji chicken with a truffle spring onion sauce. Desserts at Isla add unique twists to classic puddings – think fudge pieces slicked with miso or a sourdough crème brulee.

If you prefer liquid afters, take your pick from Isla’s list of cocktails. Options to choose from include a Cross Sea Martini (Tequila, sherry, lime, pink grapefruit, elderflower tonic) and Sunshine Cream Soda: whisky, chamomile cream soda and lemon.

Isla at The Standard is featured in

Location for Isla at The Standard

10 Argyle Street, King's Cross, London, WC1H 8EG

020 3981 8888

Website

Opening Times

All day
Mon 07:00-23:00
Tue 07:00-23:00
Wed 07:00-23:00
Thu 07:00-23:00
Fri 07:00-23:00
Sat 07:00-23:00
Sun 07:00-23:00

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