Seven years in, Bar Isabel has made the transition from it girl to grand dame of the west end restaurant scene—without slowing down the party. Against the odds, and throughout the unrelentingly bustling nights, culinary standards have remained very high. In one corner, Instagrammers snap shots and swap notes over preserved white asparagus covered in shaved truffles. In another, a couple on a Tinder date shares plates of oysters and jamón Ibérico. At the bar, a regular orders expertly prepared off-menu cocktails from Isabel’s early days and snacks on the legendary Basque cake doused with sherry cream. And in the centre of the room, manager Alessandro Pietropaolo expertly filets a Dover sole and douses it with pil-pil sauce. Pietropaolo’s wine list, compiled with Sommelier Paul Hardy, deserves special mention for keeping the party the most tastefully lubricated in town with idiosyncratic and un-faddish selections. There are back vintages of oxidative Rioja whites, like the coveted, ultra-traditional wines of R. López de Heredia, and new-school cult producers like Rafael Palacios not available anywhere else. The food is delicious, the space is raucous—and Bar Isabel is timeless.
Photos: ALEXA FERNANDO