Delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies at Craig’s Cookies

Craig's CookiesLocation: 1537 Queen Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.craigscookies.com/

Though there are a handful of places to get delicious, freshly-baked cookies in the GTA, there are very few dedicated cookie shops.  It’s actually kind of baffling; everybody loves cookies, don’t they?

There’s Felix & Norton in Markham, and apparently there’s a place called Robyn’s Cookies that I literally just discovered on Google moments ago, and… that’s about it.  There used to be Moo Milk Bar near the Beaches; they had amazing cookies, but alas, they went under.

Craig's Cookies

Thankfully, there’s a new contender in Toronto’s very un-crowded cookie shop field: Craig’s Cookies.

They sell nothing but cookies and ice cream cookie sandwiches.  I have a lot of respect for a place that does one thing, and does it well.

Craig's Cookies

And man, does Craig’s Cookies ever do it well.  They have a whole bunch of really delicious-looking cookies; I went with Nutella, which is a standard chocolate chip cookie with a whole bunch of Nutella in the middle.

Pretty much anything with that much Nutella is going to be delicious, but I was actually shocked at how good the cookie itself was.  It had a perfect flavour, a great crispy/chewy contrast, and enough chocolate chips to give it that chocolatey hit, but not so many that it’s all you taste.

Craig's Cookies

It also had a great balance of salt, which I think is the secret with a cookie like this.  You need a little bit of salt to help balance out the cookie’s sweetness, and Craig’s nails this.  There’s just enough salt for it to do its job, but not so much that it stands out.  Perfection.

Hit-or-Miss Pizza at Nonna’s Oven

Nonna's OvenLocation: 1285 Elgin Mills Road East, Richmond Hill
Websitehttp://www.nonnasoven.com/

Nonna’s Oven is an Italian joint specializing in pizza (they also have pasta and sandwiches, though the pizza seems to be the main attraction) with locations in Richmond Hill and Oakville.  It’s not bad, but it’s probably not worth going out of your way for.

Nonna's Oven

We started with the frittura mista — a plate piled high with deep fried chunks of calamari, cuttlefish, shrimp, scallops, and whitefish.  This was mostly pretty good, though the squid was rubbery (everything was a bit overcooked) and the cuttlefish had an unpleasantly fishy funk.

Still, it’s hard to go wrong with anything that’s battered and deep fried, especially when the batter is as light and crispy as it is here.

Nonna's Oven

The pizzas were a bit of a mixed bag.  The first was the Margherita Italiana (“homemade tomato sauce, topped with fior di late cheese, fresh basil and light drizzled olive oil”).  The thing about a margherita pizza is that it’s so incredibly simple that if all the elements aren’t on point (the crust in particular), then it’s not going to be particularly good.

And the crust is definitely an issue here; it’s ultra thin and crispy, with absolutely no substance outside of a crispy crunch.  It’s basically like eating tomato sauce and cheese on a really bland cracker.  It’s not great.

Nonna's Oven

The Hawaiian Inferno pizza (“pineapple, bacon, onion and hot banana peppers”) was definitely the better of the two.  The more cheese- and topping-heavy pizza helped to compensate for the bland, crackery crust, and the toppings all worked pretty well together.

In the case of both pizzas, the real MVP was the jar of fiery chili oil they had on the table.  It had little bits of hot peppers, and if you got a heaping spoonful of the peppers and the oil, it really kicked things up and helped to make everything a bit more interesting.

Middling Gelato at Ed’s Real Scoop

Ed's Real ScoopLocation: 189 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.edsrealscoop.com/

I’ve mentioned before that I quite like Ed’s Real Scoop, but that really, their sweet cream is where it’s at.  It’s outstanding.  Their other flavours are disappointingly hit-and-miss.

But in all my dozens of visits to the place over the years, I’ve never bothered to try their gelato.  This is going to be a short post — more of a PSA than anything else — because it’s not very good.  I’d advise that you stick to the ice cream.  Specifically, stick to the sweet cream.

I tried the pistachio and the bacio (chocolate hazelnut), and both of the flavours were pretty weak.  There just wasn’t much there, other than a generic sweetness.  This tends to be an issue with their ice cream, too, but at least in that case they’re starting with a great quality base.

Alas, the gelato itself was thin and underwhelming, with barely any creaminess at all.  It’s a waste of time when the ice cream is right there.

Breakfast Sandwich Perfection at Gold Standard

Gold StandardLocation: 385 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttp://thefed.ca/goldstandard/

I recently tried the burger at Gold Standard, and while I enjoyed it (and appreciated that a Toronto burger joint was finally serving an American-style slider), I wasn’t blown away.

Well clearly, the breakfast sandwich is the thing to order, because that one?  That blew me away.

The Gold Standard breakfast sandwich, per their menu: “scrambled egg, cheddar, bacon, aioli, pickles, hot sauce, English muffin.”

Good lord, it’s delicious.

Gold Standard

I really should have cut it in half so that you could see its glorious innards; it doesn’t look like much in that picture, so you’ll just have to take my word that everything was well-proportioned and perfect.

All the components work so well together.  The perfectly cooked egg and the gooey cheese meld into something that’s downright magical.  The generously-applied crispy bacon adds texture and a meaty saltiness.  The mild kick from the hot sauce along with the vinegary bite of the pickles cuts the richness of the cheese, the bacon and the eggs.  And the soft, fresh, perfectly toasted English muffin holds it all together (and adds a light crispiness) without getting in the way.

Best breakfast sandwich ever?  Quite possibly!

Tasty Looking Taiyaki Cones at Sukoi Desserts

Sukoi DessertsLocation: 760 Queen Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://sukoidesserts.com/

Taiyaki — a fish-shaped, waffle-like dessert that’s traditionally filled with tasty custard or red bean — is great.  What’s not to like?  It’s delicious.

But I was a little bit concerned that the taiyaki cones they’re serving at Sukoi Desserts might be one of those looks-first, taste-second Instagram-bait creations that have been popping up all over the city.  The fact that I overheard the owners discussing the cost of bringing “influencers” to the shop certainly didn’t instill confidence.

Sukoi Desserts

You can customize your cone in a few different ways — the ice cream (they had black sesame and vanilla when I went), the filling (red bean, custard, or Nutella), and the topping (chocolate cookie crumbs, graham cracker crumbs, or sprinkles).

I got a black sesame / vanilla twist, a topping of cookie crumbs, and a filling of red bean.

Sukoi Desserts

It wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever eaten, but I wouldn’t call it empty Instagram bait, either.  The ice cream was fine — it had a pronounced sesame flavour and an enjoyably subtle sweetness.  It was a little grainy and not particularly creamy, but it wasn’t bad.  I enjoyed it.

The taiyaki was easily the highlight.  It was warm and fresh, with a pronounced crispiness on its exterior and a perfect amount of substance on its interior.  The generous amount of tasty red bean filling complimented it perfectly.

Overall it’s a tasty enough dessert, but the middling ice cream mostly just gets in the way of the delicious taiyaki, so… I guess it kinda is Instagram bait.  Oh well.