Lemon Meringue Croissant from Butter Baker

Butter BakerLocation: 120 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://butter-baker.com/

The lemon meringue croissant from Butter Baker is one of those things that I saw on Instagram and immediately had to eat.  And yes, I know: this makes me part of the problem.

A very strong argument could be made that social media (Instagram in particular) is making our cuisine appreciably worse by incentivizing restaurants to serve visually innovative food in which the actual taste is an afterthought (e.g. Sweet Jesus).

Butter Baker

And that’s absolutely the case here.  I mean, look at that!  It looks so impressive!  But it gets less impressive once you start actually eating it.

For one thing, it’s almost impossible to eat without getting sticky meringue all over your face.  But let’s set that complaint aside, because a lot of cupcakes are just as hard to eat without making a mess, and only a monster would argue that a cupcake isn’t great.

Butter Baker

The two main issues here are that the croissant itself is merely okay, and the lemon curd  filling is completely bland.  The latter point is especially egregious; the whole appeal of a lemon meringue pie is the delightful way that the tartness of the lemon curd is offset by the sweetness of the meringue.  But here, the curd is disappointingly anemic, with a limp sugariness and almost no sour bite.  Because of this, the whole thing comes off as one-dimensionally sweet and boring.

I will, however, give Butter Baker props for the use of creamy Italian meringue over frothy, dull French meringue.  This is correct; French meringue is for jerks.

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Pizza Perfection at Descendant

Descendant Detroit Style PizzaLocation: 1168 Queen Street East, Toronto
Websitehttp://descendantdsp.com/

Is the pizza at Descendant the best in the city?  I don’t know.  It’s not not the best pizza in the city.  It’s a contender, that’s for sure.

It’s so different from the Neopolitan-style pies that you’ll find throughout the GTA that it almost tastes like a completely separate dish.

Descendant serves Detroit-style pizza, which is cooked in a square pan and features a thick, substantial crust that’s delightfully crispy and greasy on the bottom.  It’s kinda like the pan pizza from Pizza Hut, but a million times better.

Descendant Detroit Style Pizza

This was my second time at Descendant; I liked it a lot on my first visit, but I liked it even better this time.  It’s just so satisfying.

The thing that’s so impressive about this place is that the pizza itself is so good that they could easily phone it in with the toppings and just offer the usual suspects.  But a lot of the flavours here are surprisingly bold and interesting, and it all works so well.

Descendant Detroit Style Pizza

Take, for example, the Electric Avenue: “jerk chicken, fresh pineapple, curried lime aioli, green onion, Mama Lil’s Peppers, Diablo’s Fuego hot sauce.”  It’s sweet and spicy, with flavours that are about as far from a traditional pizza as you can get.  But it’s so good.

Descendant Detroit Style Pizza

We also tried the special, which on this visit was the Mexican: “chorizo, pickled peppers, lime-pickled red onion, sour cream, tomato sauce, fresh cilantro.”  This was probably my favourite pizza of the day — but they were all delicious.  The flavours were so well balanced, with the brightness of the pickles balancing out the rich sausage and cheese.

Descendant Detroit Style Pizza

The last pizza was the pepperoni, which was more traditional, but no less delicious.

One of the great things about this style of pizza is that you get such a great contrast between the crispy exterior and the soft interior of the crust.  Plus, there’s a ring of cheese on the edges of the pizza that’s dark and crispy and amazing, and it’s just the best.

French Creme Brulee McFlurry at McDonald’s

McDonald'sLocation195 North Queen Street, Etobicoke
Websitehttps://www.mcdonalds.ca

The world tour (via McDonald’s) continues!  And after the sub-par Chinese Szechuan Burger, this one’s actually not bad.

McDonald’s attempt at French cuisine is the Creme Brulee McFlurry: vanilla soft serve  with caramelized sugar bits and “Crème Brûlée sauce” mixed in.

I guess ice cream is harder to mess up than a hamburger (or I have a higher tolerance for mediocre ice cream), because I enjoyed this.

There’s no custard flavour here — the sauce and the caramelized sugar bits are both trying to replicate the crispy shell of a creme brulee rather than the entire dessert.  But it’s tasty enough for what it is; the sugar retains its texture even when mixed into the ice cream, and the sauce has a surprisingly rich, almost burnt caramel flavour.  The whole thing is too sweet and the ice cream isn’t the best, but it’s not bad.

Chinese Szechuan Burger at McDonald’s

McDonald'sLocation: 195 North Queen Street, Etobicoke
Websitehttps://www.mcdonalds.ca

McDonald’s has just started a “World Taste Tour,” in which they’re offering items loosely inspired by China, Australia, Italy, France, and Mexico.

I’m not gonna lie — I get more excited than I should probably admit when fast food joints (McDonald’s in particular) do silly promos like this.  I can travel the world?  Via McDonald’s?  Sign me up!

They’re staggering them out over the next couple of months, but the first burger they’re offering is the Chinese Szechuan Burger, which is topped with Szechuan sauce (no, not the Szechuan sauce that caused Rick and Morty fans to lose their minds — a different Szechuan sauce), crispy wontons, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, and mayo.

McDonald's

It’s not the best.  The biggest issue here is the patty itself.  It’s the luck of the draw, of course; you might get a relatively fresh patty, or you might get one that’s been sitting in the meat drawer for a while.  On this particular visit, I got the latter.  It was super dry, even by McDonald’s not-so-great standards.

Everything else was decent.  The Szechuan sauce is basically just a vaguely spicy version of a typical Asian sesame dressing — it’s sweet, with a sesame-infused flavour and a spice level that’s so mild you’ll question that it’s even there.

The crispy wontons add a nice hit of texture to the burger, and the grilled onions are actually quite tasty.  The whole thing would have fine if it weren’t for that patty — but it was surprisingly substantial and dry AF.

Tasty Pastries at Little Pebbles Cafe

Little Pebbles CafeLocation: 160 Baldwin Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://little-pebbles.com/

I was still hungry after the horrifying abomination I was served at Kiss the Tiramisu; I couldn’t eat more than a third of it.  So I went a couple of stores down to Little Pebbles, a great little Japanese cafe in Kensington Market.

They have the usual assortment of coffees to pick from, as well as a variety of French/Japanese-inspired baked goods.  I went with the Strawberry Sakura Mont Blanc, which features an almond-infused crust, pastry cream, a whole strawberry, and strawberry mont blanc cream.

Little Pebbles Cafe

Maybe I was just happy to eat something that wasn’t disgusting, but I really enjoyed this.  The nutty crust was tasty, the whole strawberry was sweet and ripe, and the mont blanc cream did a really great job of balancing the chestnut flavour you’d expect with something a bit fruitier.

The whole thing was quite subdued in its flavours, but it all worked really well.  I’d definitely like to come back here and try some of their other offerings, because everything looked really good.