Dinner at Bar Isabel

Open your eyes. If you walk too quickly you just might miss it but once you see it, it’s difficult to pay attention to anything else on that side of College Street. Thick wooden panels frame a gorgeous wooden door illuminated red by the signature Isabel scrawl.


When you walk into the restaurant your eyes need a few minutes to adjust before the warmth of the venue washes over you. Authentic Spanish tiles bring the floor to life, rustic mirrors covering the length of the restaurant make the room feel bigger, the dimly lit space and candles on each table create an oasis for every guest. If you find yourself looking up you’ll notice an array of different light fixtures, adding even more character to an already charismatic space.

Thanks to my current position as Customer Service Coordinator at an importer of Spanish cured meat and specialty items, I’ve become pretty well-versed in the world of Spanish tapas. So while other couples Googled their way through the menu, I comfortably and casually ordered the Lomo Iberico, Chips & Boquerones, the Jamon Tasting (featuring the Trevelez and Iberico de Bellota), the Half Octopus, Jamon Croquetas, Manchego Cheese, and the Bread. I was stumped by a few items and was thoroughly impressed by the staff’s product knowledge and their ability to help us navigate our way through a pretty amazing tapas meal. Our waitress ensured that she would bring out the dishes that went best together until we made our way through the entire order.


What I’m noticing about Spanish tapas is the need for quality ingredients. Since the dishes are small and simple, there has to be enough flavour to bring the dish to life. Everything from the bread to the olive oil to the thinly sliced pieces of Lomo Iberico had its own distinct flavour. A memorable flavour that tickled the palate and ignited the taste buds.

So I guess the ultimate question is, would I go back? Would you go back to a place with great food, a warm atmosphere, and wonderful service? Exactly. I would love to go with a group of people next time, I love the idea of having a few drinks and chatting as we share a few dishes on a warm Toronto evening.

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Reality Check

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There are times when I look in the mirror and don’t recognize the woman in front of me. I’m not referring to the faint but still visible wrinkles under my eyes or the newly nourished softness covering my once toned body. I’m talking about the attitude splattered all over my face.

We all go through phases where we’re pissed off at ourselves, at life, at our choices. Phases where we just want to be alone and the thought of being hugged, touched, or spoken to makes us cringe. It’s during times like this when an attitude finds itself planted firmly upon my brow. A LEAVE ME ALONE sign ceremoniously hangs itself around my neck and rests gently on the arms folded across my chest. Text messages find themselves unread, posts go unliked, kisses go unkissed, and I’m left in my own jungle of bitterness.

Then.

Suddenly.

It’s gone.

I write it out, sing it out, exercise it, coitus (sorry mom) it out of my system. Reality rears its beautiful head and surrounds me with all the things I should be thankful for. It reminds me that wishes are meant for children, hard work is the only thing that yields success, and success is really in the eyes of the beholder.

Reality check: giving up is for losers.

Reality check: you’re doing just fine great.

Reality check: you’re the source of your own happiness.

Reality check: you are not your enemy.

Reality check: you are good enough.

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