Last time we ate at Isla, the ground-floor restaurant at The Standard in King’s Cross, Adam Rawson was in charge and was cooking up an eclectic Land, Sea and Soil menu. Rawson has since moved on – his new project Cantina Valentina is currently in residence at Rondo La Cave – and lockdown has been and gone, and now Isla is back with a new menu and new-look garden terrace, which is covered and heated so you can enjoy some al fresco action throughout the winter.
There’s now a focus on simple seasonal dishes with most plates containing just two elements – there really aren’t any bells and whistles here, just stripped-back, confident cooking. There’s also an emphasis on seafood and for us, these dishes were definitely the highlights: big fat oysters dressed with cider and dill, scallops topped with a rich and savoury XO, mussels in a creamy nduja sauce (which could have used some bread for mopping up), and a soft and flaky lemon sole drenched in seaweed butter. There’s no veg or garnish on the plates, so you’ll definitely need an order of the Pink Fir potatoes topped with nori and the green salad to round everything out, and happily they both come in generous serving sizes.
The desserts follow the same simple and unfussy style, and we found the roasted pineapple with bread ice cream and the brown butter ice cream with berries, to be great lighter options that still satisfy a sweet tooth. The drinks have had an overhaul too, with Isla now boasting an interesting and explorative wine list featuring natural and low intervention bottles. We had a great Torrontes from Argentina, not one we see on a menu too often, with wine from India, Israel and Greece cropping up amongst the usual suspects.
Although Isla is the more relaxed restaurant at The Standard, compared to Decimo on top floor, you’ll still end up spending a few quid here – something that comes with the territory of hotel restaurants – but it’s a great place to spend a few hours in King’s Cross, whether you’ve got a train to catch or not.
10 Argyle St, London, WC1H 8EG