You can’t help but be impressed as you descend the stairs of this basement bar/restaurant - solid stone steps lined with ostentatious polished brass candlesticks lead you between intricately carved wooden screens; giant clay urns cast atmospheric shadows, and coloured-glass lampshades emanate a hushed kaleidoscopic glow. We sunk comfortably into our booth, strewn with plump patterned cushions. Had we inadvertently stumbled into a sultan’s palace?
The scene having been set so spectacularly, we were naturally expectant. We opted to for a selection of mezze to start. The falafels coated in sesame seeds were tasty, and the hummus had just the right consistency and flavour, but nothing really jumped off the table. After a pleasant pause our mains arrived - my companion’s grilled sea-bass was very fresh but showed little sign of the herbs and garlic promised on the menu. I plumped for the mixed grill which fittingly, if rather disappointingly, lived up to its title; lacklustre lamb seemed incongruous on the same plate as such exceptional chicken. The spicy Arabic salad offered a clever counterpoint to our mains, but the mixed vegetables were disappointing in the extreme. - a dish of peas and carrots, quite clearly cooked from frozen. No thank you. A platter of fresh fruit and a selection of nutty miniature pastries was a pleasing, refreshing way to finish the meal.
From a broad wine list we ended up drinking a delectable Rioja. Their cocktails deserve a recommendation too – my mango, vanilla and rum combo was a spectacular explosion of flavour which had you hanging around for the gratifying aftertaste.
You can tell that this former club hasn’t broken from its past completely; the relaxed music gets livelier as the evening progresses (the belly dancing show was an entertaining distraction), but this is where the problem lies. We loved the atmosphere, but this is a classic tale of style over substance. When visiting a restaurant you expect to be struck by the quality of the food, to say to your companion ‘you’ve got to try this’. With more attention in the kitchen, they could be on to something.
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London > Restaurants > Middle Eastern restaurants
51 - 52 Hertford Street, Mayfair, Mayfair, London W1J | 5 minutes from Isis
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London > Entertainment > Theatres
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London > Business > Venue Hire
8-10 Dover Street, Mayfair, Mayfair, London W1S | 1 minute from Isis
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Hotels near Isis
From cheap budget hotels to luxury 5 star hotels see our deals for Isis hotels, including St. James's Hotel & Club London from 88% off.