Bam! Five stars.
From start to finish…impeccable. We arrived an hour before our reservation time. Knowing that most likely we’d need to go grab a drink elsewhere and just return at our scheduled time, we popped in to inquire just on the off chance that there was a table available for the three of us. The hostess let us know that there was a table finishing up but that it would most likely be about 15 minutes; she then personally escorted us over to an open spot at the bar and put us in the capable hands of the bartender. Who was fantastic! The hubs asked if they had Guinness and they did not, but the bartender suggested an alternative beer and described it so delectably that of course, we ordered one. Personable beyond belief. Our server, well, he was among the best parts of the evening. He explained the “rules of the road” and let us know that Isa recommends that each person at the table order one appetizer and one entree, and then everyone splits everything as the orders arrive. We were cautioned that things would arrive to the table as they came out of the kitchen (so, we didn’t expect all three apps to land at the same time, or even before the entrees, etc.) and that was just fine with us! He also went into detail on the specials and took the time to make several specific recommendations. In the course of our initial conversation (and it was a conversation!) he let us know the correct pronunciation of the restaurant’s name (EEE-sa) and let us know the story behind it (named for the chef’s daughter Isabelle). Just a side note for any Yelpers thinking of trying Isa – 1. highly recommend it. 2. it’s a California French style, not strictly French as categorized on Yelp. Not a huge thing, but it is definitely not purely French. Personally, the Californication of the food makes for a phenomenal product. Lastly about our knowledgeable, grin-inspiring server before I start in on the food: in the course of our conversation he came out with a from-the-gut laugh that was irreverent! It was one of those laughs that just makes you laugh as well. His laugh left all of us giggling along with him long after he’d left the table.
We followed protocol and ordered three appetizers and three entrees, along with one side dish. First up: Tomales bay Pt Reyes oysters (6 oysters on the half shell with spicy orange mignonette). Fresh oysters are hard to mess up, but the orange mignonette really took them over the top into sublime territory. Next came the Yellowfin tuna with spicy sriracha, toasted sesame, seaweed, avocado, nori and low sodium soy. Fresh, bright flavor! The clean flavor of the tuna was nicely offset by the mellow creaminess of the avocado. Yum! Our third appetizer was the Dungeness crab salad with avocado, apple, grapefruit & tarragon. Once again, a perfect symphony of complementary ingredients. The mellow of the crab was balanced with the creamy avocado and sweet apple, then perked up by the grapefruit and tarragon. C’est magnifique.
Our entrees began to arrive next. Our first entree was the Seared scallops with sautéed asparagus, garlic & truffle sauce. Four seared scallops were arranged on the plate with a mound of what may have been whipped potatoes topped with several spears of asparagus and drizzled with truffle sauce. The flavors came together beautifully and the truffle flavor was nicely subtle. We actually ordered a side dish of asparagus as well, not realizing that the scallops came with asparagus, but believe me, every stalk of asparagus on the table was eaten and enjoyed. The next entree to arrive was Seasonal Fish (halibut) with artichokes, tomato confit, olives, basil & zucchini. Delicious! Our final entree was the Potato wrapped Seabass with capers, fresno peppers, parsley, tomato confit, brown butter and lemon juice. The dish was excellent, but I am a sucker for anything brown butter so it put the entree over the top.
After enjoying our apps and entrees so very much, we had to continue on to dessert. The hubs was being good and although we almost talked him into the grapefruit granite, he abstained and so we ordered two desserts instead of three. Both arrived at the same time, the first was a vanilla bean crème brulée which was sublime. The next was a vanilla bean gelato with biscotti and espresso, also fantastic.
I cannot wait to come back here, it was just a phenomenal experience.