I’d like to say that Isabella Street is one of London’s best-kept secrets, but it isn’t really. It’s just that I’ve only recently discovered it. I was initially drawn to it by – you’ve guessed it – the plants that adorn the archway at the entrance.
Isabella Street isn’t a ‘street’ as such – it’s an odd patch of ground sandwiched between a railway bridge and Southwark and Waterloo East stations. Strangely, it’s home to a few restaurants and bars, including EV, a Turkish place. Dozens of hardy yet exotic-looking plants in pots – bamboos, cordylines, Mexican orange blossom (choisya), loquats (Eriobotrya japonica) and date palms, all watered lovingly by the restaurant staff – line the walkway and seclude the outdoor tables. At night they’re lit with fairy lights. Somehow all this gives the place a holiday feel. The place is packed on Friday and Saturday nights, especially in summer.
I’d wager that no one would be drawn to Isabella Street without the plants – they make the place. Without them it’s just a patch of concrete with a view of the Shard.