Of the most interest to me, of course, is the arrival of several new restaurants. The area is already teeming with brilliant and much loved establishment, so I was eager to see what the newcomers have up their sleeves to survive the competition. The first of the lot that I tried was the restaurant and bar Isono, which occupies the top floors of the building with its fine-dining sister restaurant, Vasco.
Whilst PMQ generally has relatively low ceilings, Isono opens up to some extra ceiling room from their second floor. The result is a lofty and airy space, especially during the day when natural light streams in from the gigantic windows, which is perfect for the casual bar atmosphere they are trying to create. The circular bar in the center is particularly stunning and is the clear focal point of the entire restaurant. Fittingly, this is where I was seated for my lunch during my second visit to Isono.
There's a great set of cocktails on offer at Isono and I particularly like The Fix (I love a gin based cocktail!). There's also an extensive wine list and even a sommelier that can offer tailored recommendations, but since I was just having a casual lunch I opted for their draught beer.
I love the set up of Isono's lunch menu, which allows you to choose a different combination of starters, mains and sides/desserts depending on the number of people in your party. My friend and I opted for the one person lunch (1 main, 1 side/dessert and 1 coffee/tea) so that I could also order some dishes from the a la carte menu. Our starter of cod croquettes, for example, is not on the lunch menu but is a definite must-try!
Served with a smooth and light aioli, the croquettes are a perfect combination of cod and smooth potato batter (I think that's what it is?), giving it an almost creamy texture that is so incredibly moreish!
The main course recommended to us from the lunch menu was the roasted lemon spring chicken. Personally, I would not have chosen the spring chicken from the menu if I had not been recommended it (purely because it can easily go very wrong) but it was an unexpected winner! The chicken tasted pleasantly charred but was roasted only lightly, so that the skin is soft and juicy rather than crisp. The meat was also very tender and not at all dry. I wasn't too sure if the chicken was infused with lemon or if the zestiness came purely from the squeeze of lemon I gave it before digging in, but the lemon flavour was refreshing.
The main I ordered from the main menu was the meat paella, which I loved from my first evening visit. The rice in the paella was full of flavour as is, but where the shortrib or the juicy chicken thigh pieces are placed on the pan, the rice absorbs all the juicy goodness from the meats during cooking and packs a whole lot of extra punchiness. This is definitely the star of the meal to me!
Finally, returning to the lunch menu, I opted for the hazelnut creme brulee. This is also done very well, with the smooth creme made extra rich and decadent from the hazelnut, balancing out the flavours of the crispy burnt sugar. The sprinkling of nuts on top also adds a welcomed extra layer of crunch and texture to the dessert.
Price: $ $ $ out of 5
Price: $ $ $ out of 5