Every night of the week, San Francisco’s Marina District, not so very far from the Presidio, Golden Gate Park, and the iconic bridge itself, is abuzz with drivers trying to find a precious parking spot, and pedestrians, having left their cars, trying to find a seat in a neighbourhood teeming with good restaurants. There are a few great restaurants around here, too, and one of those is Isa.
Executive founding chef Luke Sung, precocious rising star, opened the place, and assembled the crack team that now runs the kitchen in his absence. Front of house is efficient, setting just the right tone for a room that is fairly large but very comfortable, almost homey, and a perfect setting for the delicious food coming out of that kitchen. At Isa, everything comes together, making it a great dining experience, and, to be honest, a tremendous value.
A lot of it is in the details, as is the case with all great restaurants. Point Reyes blue cheese makes a simple butter lettuce salad sing; Tomales Bay oysters get a spicy orange vinaigrette that is such a pleasant surprise. The chevre, baked, is by the iconic Laura Chenel. A lovely grilled Portobello comes with kale timbale and smoked cheddar polenta. Dutch Valley sweetbreads, Maple Leaf Farm duck breast with red beets and a delightful huckleberry sauce, locally foraged mushrooms, it all adds up to a return visit or three.
Wine service is friendly and knowledgeable, with some interesting, off the beaten path bottles, and plenty to choose by the glass. Night after night, Isa sends people home happy.