Business Irish

Wednesday 20 February 2019

First Look: Dublin's newest hotspot opens just in time for Christmas shopping brunch

Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

While most of us are looking to wind down as the festive season approaches, PressUp's expansion drive is still at full throttle.

The latest offering from the hospitality group comes in the form of restaurant and bar, in mere jumping distance from Grafton Street.

Isabelle's is smaller than some of its relatives, with seating for just 95 patrons in the main hub [bar and pizza counter not included].

But it's in good company with its seated terrace, allowing for 20 more diners, claiming considerable frontage into the redeveloped Royal Hibernian Way.

The popular Lemon and Duke - which boasts Leinster rugby's Jamie Heaslip, the Kearney brothers, and Sean O’Brien as business partners - is already pulling in a trade there.

South Anne Street entrance just metres from the Christmas shopping madness, Isabelle's location - and seasonal timing - is almost ideal.

[The unit is where Boylan's Shoes, on the Royal HIbernian Way side, and where Peaches & Cream, on the South Anne Street side, used to be; the two stores have both relocated]

But how does its offering, and surroundings, fare alongside well established nearby venues such as Marco Pierre's and Featherblade?  

In keeping with brothers and sisters like Tomahawk and Sophie's, Isabelle's pushes the boat out in terms of decor, care of interior design firm O'Donnell and O'Neill.

MMA and Kerlin Gallery are supplying the wall accessories, with 10 pieces brought in from Irish artist Clare Ormerod.

The black and white marble flooring contrasts with a more matt Mediterranean tile in the bathrooms (that are worth noting for their brass taps).

But the focal points are, for front of house guests - the long rectangle shaped bar with concrete countertop - and for rear diners, the open "show kitchen" and copper clad pizza counter with wood fired oven.

You might recognise a few faces if you're an eater about town; general manager Joanna Duda-McKenna is formerly of Roly’s Bistro, Sophie’s Restaurant and Angelina’s, while head chef Barra Hurley is jumping across from Tomahawk.

With 20 years of experience, working at restaurants such as Chapter One and Shanahan’s On The Green, under his belt Hurley's first menu at Isabelle's is all about warming the cockles with hearty winter vegetables and slow cooked meats

And yet, while everything from the brunch to the starters to the pizza to the cocktails, will offer a simple, classic option - they'll often include the slightest little twist. Anyone for Black Fig & Gorgonzola pizza?

In terms of prices, mains range from €22 (Coal Charred Spiced Aubergine and Kale Chips) to €34 (8oz Fillet of Beef with Smoked Brisket and Roast Parsnip) while a house eggs benedict will set you back €14.50.

Isabelle's opens its doors to the public this Friday, November 30, in time to roll out its weekend brunch offering from 10am to 3pm - ahead of a full weekly lunch (noon - 3pm) and dinner (5pm - 10pm) launch next Monday. 

Online Editors

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