We get stuck in the roles we play, in the parts we take. We freeze time by referring to old classmates as "most popular," " tool," " nerd," " prude” or slut." Loser" more than any other pops up the most frequently, partially because they were or you were - or you're jealous of who they are now or the success they have now. The question is when is one no longer considered a loser to others (at work, in their social life) are they still a loser? Do you ever really lose that title? I guess it all depends on charm, personality, and a nice portfolio can't hurt. Which brings us to Isola, the old Imperial 9 space in The Mondrian in Soho.
Isola is in the most outrageous space that I goo and gaggle at each time I pass it on Crosby Street (or go inside). The setting is nothing short of magical, from the ivy aisle with tons of potted plants beside you that escort you into the hotel, the modern hang-out area that is sleek and polished, minimal but clean and chic... and then there's the great room, the best room, the greenhouse that really makes my heart go pitter patter. This space is hearty and long with grandiose chandeliers hanging from the rafters. Above the communal or party tables, damn smack in the middle, hangs a long floating piece of glass with abstract glass pitchers, goblets, vases, structures and great shards of glass that add to this cool yet elegant decor. It reminds me of the work of Dale Chihuly. The bar inside the restaurant, long and lean AND stocked, is bustling, whereas in the old space the bar was outside the main dining room so that your drinking/eating experience was separate. This was a topic that came up at our table of four - how it's one thing to grab food at a bar yet it's another to make your dinner reservation at a bar; but this in fact did not bother me. The cocktails were fun and there were lots of specials of the house, which I enjoy on a Saturday night. Unfortunately, getting your drinks or getting your anything can be compared to gridlock at 6pm leaving the city; thus the service was an abomination. We should have placed our apps and mains right off the bat but in an attempt to stop and savor the moment we didn't; much to our chagrin this was not the route to take. Eventually, our Italian apps came to us - a veal, pork and beef meatball served with garlicky crostinis, parmesan potato skins, a ricotta pizza and one tuna tartare served over watermelon. The meatball (two) were tasty and delicious as three of us devoured it and taunted the kosher doctor, the fourth in our posse. The rest - forgettable. The watermelon and tuna clashed more than loafers with boot cut jeans. Sadly, the girls had scallops and the food was so forgettable that I simply forgot what the gents got! Now, that's ruff! Soooo, atmosphere awesome and food/service (to be nice) not so hot. Aargh, another night BITES the dust. Isola despite its pretty name and pretty look might just be a loser. 9 Crosby Street | Between Grand & Howard Streets (212) 389-0000