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Of all the entrees, only one was even vaguely edible: a piece of swordfish, nicely cooked, napped with a chive crème fraîche, then mounted on a ratatouille that was like mush and bled oil like it'd been knifed on its way out of the kitchen. But still, somewhere in the back of the house at Mark & Isabella, there was a poisonarde who did right by this fish. Who could hold his head high. The rest of Tarbell's crew ought to be ashamed of what they tried to pass off as food. They ought to feel pity for the animals whose lives they spent so carelessly, who were killed only to end up at the bottom of a trash can. This wasn't just a bad meal; it was an embarrassment.

There's a reason I write these reviews the way I do — why, for the past seven years, I have taken them so personally and written (almost) as much about myself as I have about the food. It's because every time I walk through the doors of a restaurant, I try to imagine myself in the situation I actually found myself in last week: as a customer who, for whatever reason, doesn't just want dinner, but needs it. First dates. Last dates. Marriage proposals. Grief. Restaurants are, in so many cases, stages for all of mankind's small dramas. I try to imagine myself as a man of little means, having saved for a month or two just to be able to afford one nice meal with my wife; as a father taking his family out to celebrate; as a son mourning with what remains of his family. Every week, I try to think like a normal person — not a critic, not a writer — and imagine how I would feel had I been given...this.

Walking out the door, I was ashamed at what I'd subjected my family to. They were only disappointed.

The patio at Mark & Isabella looks lonely. With good reason, it turns out.
mark manger
The patio at Mark & Isabella looks lonely. With good reason, it turns out.

Details

Mark & Isabella
Caprese salad $7.95
Grana padano $6.95
Prosciutto and melon $9.95
Swordfish $16.95
Spaghetti and meatballs $14.95
Izzy's meatballs $15.25
Chicken parm $11.25
Closed Location
303-934-7800
Hours: Lunch and dinner, daily

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I was furious.

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