Friday, August 13, 2010

Isabella's Cafe in Decatur

Swahili Shrimp Curry with Mango and Spicy Asian Orange Beef.

Isabella's Cafe is a strong, unique addition to the Decatur dining scene. Located on West College Avenue, it's a bit off the beaten track of downtown, yet fully accessible and certainly worth seeking out. A couple of weeks ago owner/manager Wambui Maina invited me to sample much of Isabella's extensive, diverse menu. The menu's international focus comes from Wambui's own life experiences: born in Kenya, then lived in New Orleans, and traveled extensively around the US and the world. Photographs from around the world adorn the walls here, making for a full international experience for the eyes as well as the taste buds. The restaurant is named for Wambui's mother, Isabella.

The moist, savory corn muffins provided to each table started things off right. The trio of samosas - ground turkey was my favorite - also impressed, although I would like to taste a little more spicy heat in the mixtures. We also enjoyed two types of wings: tangy tamarind and sweet and hot Thai. Both were satisfying, but I enjoyed the sweet and hot Thai the most as the hot flavor really came through. Sounds like I'm on the lookout for spice these days... not sure what that means! The spinach salad was amazing. One of the best parts of the meal, and we were provided with all three homemade dressings: passion fruit vinaigrette is my top pick. I also loved the Swahili shrimp with Mango - a definite must-try. The spicy Asian beef was a bit too salty for my taste and a little too mainstream to stand out among all the other offerings not commonly found in Atlanta.

Corn muffins delivered to each table.

Samosa sampler platter and Spinach and Gorgonzola salad with mango, strawberries and spiced pecans.

Rich and Tangy Tamarind Wings - we also tried the Thai Sweet and Hot Wings.

Jerk Chicken Panini.

Pepper-Jack Macaroni and Cheese and Chipotle-Maple Black Beans.

The jerk chicken sandwich was another hit - spicy and large, this would make a wonderful lunch. We also thoroughly enjoyed the mac and cheese and the black beans. The beans had a really unique flavor and I'm not usually one to like black beans. I would probably choose them over the other side choices next time they are so good!

Cajun Shrimp and Andouille Sausage Alfredo over Pasta - also very tasty with just the right creaminess and spice.

Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Balls with Blue Cheese. Another good appetizer choice, although I think I prefer the real wings. Still, for those who prefer boneless, this is a great choice.

Banana Pudding and Sweet Potato Pie with Crunchy Pecan Topping. Both were great - loved the sweet potato pie.

All that was left of our Warm Chocolate Molten Cake! Do you think we liked it??

Inside Isabella's. The dining room is actually much larger than this view of the kitchen area.

Isabella's Cafe on Urbanspoon