Slinky, contemporary decor, with dark wood and oversized lampshades, gives Isarn a polished, expensive image, but the menu is surprisingly wallet-friendly. Set lunches, which come in a bento box, are good value, and include a selection of spring rolls or fish cakes, curry, rice and fruit. Don’t expect authentic Thai fieriness or superb cooking, but do sample some of the more unusual dishes, along with stalwarts like curries and pad thai – all stylishly presented.
Among the starters, betel leaf wraps with crispy duck and pomelo are a must-try, as are the traditional Thai desserts, which rarely appear on restaurant menus. Delicate coconut-cream pudding with taro and lotus seed comes wrapped in a hand-shaped pandan leaf case. Less sweet western choices include an enjoyable dense lemon cheesecake topped with strawberry ice-cream.
Isarn’s narrow dining room is often packed with twenty- and thirtysomethings, probably due to its prime location on Upper Street and the reasonable prices. This remains a cut above several local establishments. In summer, try to get a table in the small rear courtyard.
An affectionate reference to the chef's birthplace, Isarn is renowned for its powerful and fragrant flavours. Signature dishes include green papaya salad served with gai yang (grilled chicken).
119 Upper Street
|Opening hours:||Lunch served noon-3pm, dinner served 6-11pm Mon-Fri. Meals served noon-11pm Sat; noon-10.30pm Sun.|
|Transport:||Tube: Angel tube/Highbury & Islington tube/rail|
|Price:||Main courses £6.50-£14.50. Set lunch £6.95 bento box.|
|Do you own this business?|