New York restaurants might fall into one of two major camps: those that cater to a specific crowd, serving an idiosyncratic type of cuisine, and those that are paint with a broader stroke, peppering the menu with sundry options, something for everyone to enjoy.
Now open at 107 North 12th Street, Isla & Co. certainly fits into the latter category — the eclectic menu offers a hodgepodge of modern fare, including contemporary standbys (blistered Brussels sprouts, oysters with a cucumber mignonette) and also some rarer treats (crispy halloumi, date pudding). The sleek but comfortable Williamsburg restaurant knows what dishes, drinks, and décor work, so why reinvent the wheel? While not the most adventurous menu, the brunch and dinner eatery also knows, wisely, who it is and what it’s serving — and it accomplishes both well.
There are handsome houseplants, clean subway tile, and gold trim throughout (even an expensive-looking bar cart houses the toilet paper in the bathroom). But don’t let that cart’s suspected price tag fool you: the prices at Isla & Co. (now open in Brooklyn, and soon expanding to sister locations in Florida and Georgia) are perfectly reasonable, with no entrée topping $28 and wine and cocktails sticking to the $12-16 range.
Led by Executive Chef Matt Foley, the food is uniformly strong, with a few standout dishes. For those who weren’t scarred by (or have yet to watch) My Octopus Teacher, the charred octopus appetizer is crisp on the outside, pillowy within, and flavorful throughout. The Thai green vegetable curry (Thai food? Yes: as SNL’s Stefon would say, “This place has everything”) packs a zing but is creamy and filling. And the roasted sweet potatoes, whose labne, salsa macha, and cilantro make for a party in your mouth, offer a table-pleasing addition for those craving a unique carb.
Isla & Co. sits right beside the William Vale, though it is not technically affiliated with that landmark hotel. Still, the restaurant boasts some gravitas of its own, even in the shadow of that towering resort. Isla & Co.’s most majestic feature may be its wall of windows, stretching a story or two upward and turning what could have been an intimate spot into an open, airy one.
The moderate seating capacity and central location will no doubt make this a busy restaurant; it’s a solid place for taking parents when they’re in town, sipping at on a weeknight, or weekend brunching before strolling along Wythe Avenue. Even Martians, surely, would find something appealing.
The music choices also ascribe to a wide appeal. The playlist featured pop anthems from David Guetta, Ariana Grande, and Taylor Swift — sometimes, you just want the bangers.