September 21, 2012
Life Lesson: Never leave your wife stag on Canal Street at night so you don’t have to pay the fee at the ATM. Not even for a New York Minute. She might get jacked and more importantly, you’ll never hear the end of it.
Isola is the newest incarnation of a gorgeous, breathtaking space in the Mondrian Hotel in Soho that for some reason keeps trying to make sub-par restaurants. Ideally, this space would just exist to make people happy – visually indulgent and a great place to meet for cocktails with friends. Unfortunately, we do not live in such a fantasyland and some people have to make a buck. When you do arrive at Isola, you feel like you are in for something special when you walk in and through an ivy-laced corridor with exposed brick. Even with no reservations, we were seated by the lovely hostess within 15 minutes of arrival - after a drink at the bar and Heview being hit on by the maitre he’, there we were at a table for four right in the middle of our dream space. The antithesis of the friendly (and quick) staff to this point was our waiter. He took so bloody long between visits I could feel my food getting cold before it even arrived. By the time we finally got our appetizers, our waiter placed a Burrata Pizza with Pesto and Roasted Tomato, an order of Tuna Crudo with White Balsamic, Jalapeno, Watermelon and Pine Nuts, along with the Beef, Veal and Pork Meatballs in Roasted Tomato Sauce. The Tuna was a nice dish and seemed to be enjoyed by all who ventured into it and the Meatballs looked amazing and tasted something like decent. The Burrata Pizza was a thin crust and also just decent. At this point the meal needed to be saved by our company and the maitre he’, who decided to join us for a bit! If only the food was as good as he was flamboyant and amazing, we would have been in for a treat. For mains, the Branzino was somewhere in the middle of the road and the Parmesan Potatoes were completely dry. The Mushroom Polenta was the one saving grace of the second act, but a side dish does not a meal make. If we were going to get jacked anywhere, I’d prefer it be in here than for real on the street, so the night turned out ok from that perspective, but I do not need to come back here until the next restaurant gets churned out – until then I’ll just admire the space from afar. 9 Crosby Street | Between Grand & Howard Streets (212) 389-0000
September 21, 2012
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