Easter came early to Isabella’s Chocolate Cafe, so we stopped in to try a few sweet spring treats.
Tucked between a TD Commercial Bank branch and a jewellery store, Isabella’s was an inviting piece of downtown real estate on the blustery day we decided to check it out. Inside, the decor was warm and inspired by Parisian cafes of lore (think wrought-iron legged bistro tables, French posters on the wall, and stools at the window for people-watching), and, with the exception of two UOIT students killing time between classes, empty.
While Isabella’s serves light lunch and a variety of beverages, we were there for the treats. The display of baked goods was neatly presented, and we decided to try the chocolate chip cookie topped with Mini Eggs, two pink bunny sugar cookies, and a hot chocolate. Because when one is filling up with sugary cookies, they clearly need washing down with warm, liquid chocolate.
Total for the cookies and hot chocolate was $12, but when we went to pay using the debit machine, we were prompted to either enter a percentage or dollar amount for a tip. And there was no opt out option.
Let’s be clear: We appreciate that the service industry is largely underpaid. However, since our transaction with our staff member had consisted of reaching into the bakery display to retrieve three items, place them in bags, and make one hot chocolate, we weren’t convinced that this required additional financing on top of what we’d already handed over. Plus, there was already a tip jar prominently displayed on the counter. Message received, Isabella’s. Tips are welcome.
The debit machine aside, the Easter treats were a delight. The sugar cookie bunnies looked (nearly) too cute to eat, and were thick enough that they didn’t crumble. The chocolate chip cookie was substantial and, with the Mini Eggs dotting the top, looked like it would have been quite at home in a Martha Stewart photoshoot. The hot chocolate lacked the cloying sweetness of many coffee chains (we’re looking at you, Starbucks and Tim Hortons), and was nicely foamy.
Would we go back? You bet. We dug the faux-European vibe, and enjoyed the food. And yes, we’ll bring some extra change for a tip.
Isabella’s Chocolate Cafe is located at 2 King Street East.