Isla & Co.
is a promising new addition to the thriving Bishop Arts District restaurant scene. We stopped in for a first look at this Australian-inspired one-stop shop for brunch and dinner dishes, artisan coffee, vino and spiffy signature cocktails.
The space, formerly occupied by the acclaimed Italian restaurant Lucia, is small but warm and inviting. Despite being a new kid on the block, Isla already attracts a crowd. Reservations are recommended at peak times if you want to be sure of getting a table. We got lucky — there was just one table left when we walked in. There’s also a small patio out front with a handful of tables where you can people-watch, and there may not be a better place in Dallas to people-watch than Bishop Arts.
Isla & Co.'s sidewalk seating offers some great people watching.
The executive chef of Isla & Co. is Matt Foley, who sharpened his culinary skill while working in two different Michelin-starred kitchens (Manhattan Beach Post and Marea). The first Isla & Co. opened in Brooklyn. Three more have been added, with another on the way.
While perusing the menu, we tried the Gold Coast Highball ($14), a refreshing cocktail of whiskey, soda, jasmine, lemon and mint. It reminded us of a boozy ginger ale.
The Sambal Scramble with avocado and green harissa on sourdough.
Since it was brunch, we sampled a few plates from both the breakfast and lunch menus. We started with the Sambal Scramble ($18). Soft scrambled eggs with avocado (you can opt for bacon over avocado), parmesan and green harissa on sourdough, all lying atop a spicy chili sambal sauce.
Our other breakfast order was the Brekkie Roll ($18), a brioche breakfast sandwich of scrambled eggs, white cheddar, bacon, peperonata (stewed bell peppers) and arugula.
Moving along into the lunch portion of the menu, we tried the fish and chips ($25), served with yuzo kosho (a Japanese condiment made of fresh chiles) and tartar sauce. The fries were good and the fish was excellent: tender, flaky whitefish encased in a sheath of battered, deep-fried crunchiness.
The Grilled Chicken Sandy has a nice spread of pesto along with cheddar and charred broccoli.
Next was the Grilled Chicken Sandy ($19): juicy chicken breast sauced in pesto with white cheddar and charred broccoli between toasted, thick-cut slices of sourdough.
Spicy Shrimp Vodka Rigatoni
We wrapped things up with the Spicy Shrimp Vodka Rigatoni ($23). It definitely had a kick, but not overly so, and the dish was abundant with shrimp.
Some of the options on the menu may sound simple and routine on the surface (such as the previously mentioned fish and chips, grilled chicken sandwich and egg sandwich), and we must admit the somewhat elevated menu prices had us wondering before we went. But after experiencing Isla & Co. for ourselves, we left impressed.
The service was exemplary and every dish we had utilized top-shelf ingredients, was cooked beautifully and was presented as an enhanced, souped-up version of what it sounded like. And this is a uniquely versatile establishment. How many places can you have French toast and coffee in the morning, a grilled chicken sandwich and fries at lunch, braised lamb shoulder for dinner and then cocktails from the bar for a nightcap?
Isla & Co., 408 W. Eighth Street (Oak Cliff). Wednesday – Monday, 9 a.m. – 11 p.m.; closed Tuesday.