We used to walk past Isaac@ most days on our way to work if we were coming from my house. An unassuming exterior intrigued us, what exactly was this place? A year later and Isaac @ has relaunched with a new kitchen and menu and Josh and I were lucky enough to be invited down to their relaunch evening. We wasn’t sure what to expect but were wowed with the elegance of the setting and how such simple ingredients were used to their full potential.
Our table was decorated simply but beautifully. Our menu was in the form of a scroll and instead of having 100’s of knives and forks spread across the table, they were held neatly in a little wooden box.
Isaac@ nails the balance between fine dining and simplicity. The food is the star of the show so they don’t feel the need to over embellish with an over the top ‘fancy’ interior. White chairs, low hanging lights and wooden tables gives the restaurant a modern but homely vibe.
The restaurant is run by Isaac and his friends and when you watch them cook together in the open kitchen their passion for the food is quite obvious. Each dish was brought out to us by one of the chefs, explained to us and we were able to ask any questions we wanted to. It was such a special experience.
They have a passion for local ingredients and we were given a menu which showed exactly where each ingredient was sourced and how many miles it had travelled. It was really cool to see that some ingredients, like the rosemary, had been locally foraged!
We started the evening with an amuse-bouche of sea purslane with kohlrabi, no we hadn’t heard of them either but they were pleasant. Next up were two types of bread and two butters. A smoked butter to go with the brioche roll and a salty butter for the sourdough.
Our first course was gorgeous in every way, in presentation and in taste. Roasted butternut squash with pickled squash, the seeds, yeast extract and rosemary oil. You wouldn’t expect a simple squash dish to be so wow-ing but it was surprisingly tasty, the yeast extract really aided the squash flavour and the oil completed the dish.
Next up was monkfish with cauliflower puree and sauce vierge, which is a basil based sauce. This dish kinda underwhelmed us, I loved the puree but Josh doesn’t like cauliflower so he wasn’t keen. The monkfish was slightly under seasoned for us but the sauce vierge did help it along.
Crispy pork belly with smoked broccoli puree with broccoli tips on top stole the show. This was by far our favourite dish of the evening, we were probably putting other diners off their dinners with all our groans of how good it was. The pork belly had been cooked using a sous vide (water bath) for two days and then fried off to get the crispiness. Josh has been thinking about the pork since we visited and has even been on Amazon looking up prices of sous vides. It was that good.
Roast chicken, salt baked celeriac with gem lettuce was our last savoury dish of the evening. We were intrigued when we saw this on the menu, how were they gonna cook the lettuce? Hot lettuce isn’t appetising. I really don’t like celeriac either so was expecting to be disappointed. We were obviously wrong. The chicken was tender and juicy, with large portions too and the celeriac went well with the sauce and chicken. The gem lettuce had been charred and garnished on top and actually completed the dish well.
Our palate cleanser was next out the kitchen which was perfectly timed as I don’t think we could have handled another savoury dish. There’s always room for dessert! The blackberry and cucumber sorbet did the job well, the cucumber gave it a metallic taste which I did kind of like.
Dessert was their take on Eton Mess. Strawberries, honey pink peppercorn ice cream and milk foam. The milk foam was so interesting and gave the dish a great texture, it’s kind of like meringue except it didn’t have the crunchiness and just had the melt in your mouth texture.
As you can see, we thoroughly enjoyed our evening at Isaac @ and loved learning about the team and trying their menu. For fine dining, I think they are very reasonably priced and the quality of the ingredients is outstanding, so is the passion of the team.
We’ll definitely be recommending Isaac @ to anybody that asks for a restaurant to go to for a special occasion. Head down to Gloucester Street to check them out, or you can find them online here.
*We were given a complimentary meal in exchange for a review but as always, all opinions and words are our own*