The best meal I’ve so far this year was in the prettiest room in Williamsburg, with the most gorgeous companion imaginable, featuring the perhaps the tastiest duck I’ve ever had and the most refreshing dessert in memory. AND, considering the generous size of the portions, the complimentary snacks and tastes we received throughout, and the creativity and care that went into each dish, the prix-fixe of $50 can only be considered a bargain. But let me backtrack a little bit here…
The name of the SO good place is Isa, it’s located near most residents of Williamsburg (and anyone who can get to the L train Bedford station), and it’s co-run by the always-interesting Taavo Somer, who helped change the face of Manhattan dining with, first, Freeman’s, his “secret”, taxidermy-happy restaurant at the end of an alley on the Lower East Side, and later with the always-hopping Peels, in the heart of what has become Bowery’s eatery row.
For Williamsburg’s Isa, Somer (who, by the way, did much of carpentry here himself), has brought in Chef Ignacio Mattos, formerly of Il Buco and a huge fan of stylized, locally-sourced “forager” cuisine. And the result of all of this? Pure dining bliss.
The Isa menu is short and changes often, and if you go for the $50, three-course prix-fixe (which you should, because, like I said, it’s a great deal), you’ll only have two items from which to choose for each of your three courses: starter, entree and dessert. No matter. At our two-top we had all six items on the Isa prix-fixe menu–plus two complimentary “tastes” in between!–and every single one was a major winner.
The Tartare was intensely meaty, and flax seed “cake” added both flavor and texture. The smoked egg yolk was excellent with the array of trumpet mushrooms. The Mackerel entree–rich, oily, delicious–worked beautifully with the crunchy fava beans and grilled onions. And the Duck? Ah, the duck. Cooked just right at medium rare, tender and smooth, skin nice and crispy, fat nice and fatty, with kumquat and cabbage providing citrus and sweet.
Both Isa desserts on this night were outstanding, but the Grapefruit Curd with matcha powder and pistachios was truly extraordinary, so crisp and tart and earthy AND refreshing. The perfect end to a terrific meal.
Taavo Somer’s Isa is located on the corner of South 2nd Street and Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. More info on their website.