Location: 8362 Kennedy Road, Unionville
Big Beef Bowl is another place that serves fresh, chewy noodles, which means I’m pretty much going to love it by default. I’m very easy to please when it comes to a big bowl of delicious noodles.
I got the braised beef brisket noodles, which comes with your choice from six types of noodles: round or flat, with three thicknesses each. I got the round noodles in a medium thickness. And they were great — they might have been ever-so-slightly too soft, but they were otherwise hearty and chewy and satisfying.
The soup itself wasn’t anything too special, but it got the job done. It was a bit spicy by default, but was improved immeasurably by a few hearty spoonfuls of the chili oil they’ve got on the table. You always have to be careful with that particular condiment, because depending on the place, its spiciness ranges from a moderate tingle to volcano hot. The one at Big Beef Bowl isn’t particularly spicy, but it has a satisfying toasty flavour that really improves the soup.
There were also several chunks of fatty, immensely tender beef brisket. I could have eaten a whole pile of these.
Location: 12 Oxley Street, Toronto
I just had a slice of the mille crepe cake from Millie Patisserie, and it was so incredibly delicious that I’m pretty sure I can never eat dessert again. I mean, what’s the point? It’s all garbage to me now. Mille crepe cake 4 eva.
In case you’re not familiar with a mille crepe cake, it’s a magical creation in which crepes and custardy cream are layered on top of each other until you wind up with something that looks like a cake.
The version they’re serving at Millie Patisserie is next level. It’s insanely good.
On this particular visit, they had four varieties: vanilla bean, tiramisu, earl gray, and matcha. I went with vanilla bean, and holy crap it was amazing.
The custard between the crepe layers was crazy delicious. It was rich and creamy, with an intense custardy flavour and the perfect amount of vanilla. Just give me a spoon and a bucket of this stuff and I’ll eat it until I literally explode.
The tender crepes are just as good, with a very light chewiness that compliments the custard perfectly. The proportion of both is just right; it’s the perfect balance of creaminess and substance and amazingness. It was easily one of the best desserts I’ve had in ages.
It’s not cheap, however. One slice comes up to a bit over ten bucks with tax, which is so much that I almost left the store without ordering anything. But man, it is absolutely, positively worth it. Aside from the fact that it’s ridiculously delicious, the quality of ingredients they’re working with is obviously high, and I have to imagine that making one of these things is quite labour intensive. There are so many layers and they’re all so perfect.
Location: 3401 Dufferin Street, North York (inside Yorkdale Mall)
Since I’ve already established that the restaurant at the Restoration Hardware in Yorkdale is better than it has any right to be (I was shocked at how decent the burger was), it shouldn’t be a surprise that the grilled cheese is quite tasty.
It’s a classic, no-frills grilled cheese. This is a dish that a lot of places feel the need to gussy up, with toppings and condiments aplenty. But grilled cheese is perfect on its own; all you need is good quality bread, cheese, and a whole bunch of butter. No ornamentation is necessary.
And that’s exactly what the RH Courtyard Cafe gives you: the cheddar cheese is sharp and gooey, and the bread has the perfect amount of substance, with a crispy exterior and a soft interior.
It’s also ridiculously buttery, as it should be; if you can hold a grilled cheese sandwich without your hands instantly becoming slippery with grease, then you need to throw it right in the garbage. It’s worthless.
But then there’s the price. It’s 19 bucks. As good as it is (and it’s quite good), it’s still just a grilled cheese sandwich, which might be the easiest (and cheapest) thing in the world to make. So it’s hard to justify spending that much on it.
Location: 44 Queen Street, Niagara on the Lake
Cows has been a Niagara on the Lake institution since 1983, so they’re obviously doing something right. Though in this case, I think the thing they did right was picking a location that’s right in the middle of the main road in a very touristy town. Because the actual ice cream isn’t that great.
It’s relatively rich and creamy, so it’s certainly very, very far from the worst ice cream I’ve ever had. But the flavour was a pretty big shrug.
I got the Wowie Cowie, which is “vanilla ice cream, English toffee marble, chocolate flakes & moo crunch.”
The vanilla ice cream doesn’t taste like anything but generic sweetness. There’s nothing there. Plain ice cream can be amazing — the sweet cream at Ed’s, which doesn’t even have vanilla bean to fall back on, manages to pack in an impressive amount of flavour and depth. Meanwhile, this tasted like sweet nothing.
The “English toffee marble” was even worse, and there’s a lot of it rippled in there. It didn’t have any of the rich caramel flavour you’d expect from English toffee; it was just thick and sweet, like plain corn syrup.
As for the other elements, the chocolate was fine, and the moo crunch didn’t even seem to be there (I’m not sure what it was supposed to be, but I didn’t notice anything but the caramel and the chocolate).
Location: 122 Queen Street, Niagara on the Lake
The perfect pizza crust should be lightly crispy on the outside, with a soft, slightly chewy interior. Well, the Treadwell Bakery in Niagara on the Lake definitely has the “chewy” thing covered. They’ve got it covered hard.
On this particular day, they had a couple of types of slices available; the one topped with salami, prosciutto, roasted red pepper, and goat cheese caught my eye.
The flavours were actually pretty solid; the sweet peppers did a great job of balancing out the salty meats and cheese, and the slice had a garlicky, herby flavour that worked quite well. It could have used a bit more moisture, but the quality of the ingredients was good; it was a tasty slice of ‘suh.
Then there was the crust. Calling it chewy doesn’t quite communicate the enormity of what was going on here. It was downright rubbery; I was having a hard time even biting into it. When I say that it was a jaw workout, I’m not exaggerating to make a point. My jaw was literally sore by the time I finished the slice. It was nuts.
I still actually kind of enjoyed it, which tells you how good it was otherwise. But man, that crust. What the hell happened there??