Delightful Soft Serve at Tom’s Dairy Freeze

Tom's Dairy FreezeLocation: 630 The Queensway, Etobicoke
Websitehttp://www.tomsdairyfreeze.ca/

If you’re looking for soft serve ice cream in Toronto, you can’t go wrong with Tom’s.  It’s been a summertime institution since 1969 and, shockingly enough, still sells some of the best soft serve in the city.

In a city where so many old-school restaurants skate by on nostalgia alone (I’m thinking of vintage burger joints like Johnny’s and Apache), I tend to approach years-old restaurants with a healthy dose of skepticism.  Toronto’s food scene has improved astronomically over the decades, and a place like Johnny’s (which routinely used to top “best burger in the city” lists despite serving awful pre-fab junk) is a palpable reminder of how far we’ve come.

Tom's Dairy Freeze

Tom’s Dairy Freeze, however, is a delightful exception to this rule; the soft serve here is top-shelf stuff.

On this particular visit I went simple with vanilla ice cream and a chocolate dip.  The dip is nothing special, but the ice cream is phenomenal.  It’s rich, creamy, and has a really satisfying vanilla flavour.  Anyone who wants to sell soft serve in the city should be forced to come here and take notes.

Beyond Meat Burger at A&W

A&W - Beyond Meat BurgerLocation: 1130 Dundas Street East, Mississauga
Websitehttp://www.aw.ca/

A&W recently added a Beyond Meat burger to its menu; the company that makes these things calls them “the future of protein,” and word on the street is that it tastes surprisingly close to the real deal.

Veggie burgers that try to emulate actual beef are pretty much always disgusting (case in point: Doomie’s, a restaurant that actually specializes in vegan food but still manages to serve a vegan patty that tastes like pure, distilled sadness), so I was curious, but my expectations were about as low as it gets.

Well, maybe that helped, because the Beyond Meat burger?  Not terrible!

A&W - Beyond Meat Burger

I know, “not terrible” isn’t exactly high praise, but since I was expecting this to be an all-out disaster, I’m going to chalk that up as a win.

The biggest giveaway that this isn’t an actual hamburger is the texture — though it’s vaguely meaty, it’s also off-puttingly mushy.  But it wasn’t dry or rubbery, so it certainly could have been worse.

A&W - Beyond Meat Burger

(Yeah, I completely mangled the hamburger — it turns out wooden coffee stir-sticks are an absolutely horrible implement to cut a burger in half.  Lesson learned!)

The taste was a bit better than the texture.  It wasn’t beefy at all — but then the actual beef at most fast food joints doesn’t have a particularly beefy flavour.  The flavour is sort of generically meaty in a way that’s not great, but also not altogether unpleasant.  The burger is absolutely doused in ketchup, mustard, and mayo, which helps make it more palatable.

It probably isn’t going to fool anyone other than longtime vegetarians who have forgotten what a burger tastes like, and I don’t think I’d ever order it again, but I was still impressed at how non-gross it was.  I’d easily take it over the actual beef burgers at really bottom-of-the-barrel places like Hero Certified Burgers or Burger King.

Decent Pizza at Scaddabush

ScaddabushLocation1900 The Queensway, Etobicoke
Websitehttp://www.scaddabush.com/

I’ve mentioned before that Scaddabush is a surprisingly good casual chain restaurant; well, I just tried the pizza, and yeah, I still like the place.

I got the Mario: “prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, San Marzano tomato sauce, baby arugula.”

It’s good — it’s not mind-blowing, but I certainly enjoyed eating it a heck of a lot more than the pizza at Pizzeria Libretto.

Scaddabush

The crust is basically Roman-style — thin and a little bit bready, with a satisfying amount of crispiness on its exterior.  It’s not bad at all.  And the toppings are solid.  The tomato sauce is slightly garlicky and not over-applied, and the salty prosciutto and peppery arugula work quite well together.

It’s nothing that anyone’s going to get too excited over — but like everything else at Scaddabush, it’s better than you’d think, given the quality of the competition.

Matcha Overload at Golden Bubbles

Golden BubblesLocation: 3276 Midland Avenue, Scarborough
Websitehttp://goldenbubbles.ca/

I don’t particularly like matcha.  It has a vaguely bitter, swampy flavour that I find unappealing.

So obviously, when I went to Golden Bubbles, I ordered the Matcha Red Bean Waffle despite the fact that they have many non-matcha options that look perfectly delicious.  Because I’m a stupid person?

Golden Bubbles

In my defense, I’ve been craving a red bean dessert (probably because I’ve been watching Kantaro: The Sweet Tooth Salaryman on Netflix, a delightfully quirky Japanese show about a dessert-obsessed businessman).  Plus, it’s been a few years since I’ve tried a matcha dessert, so my general mindset was “prove me wrong, Golden Bubbles.  Prove me wrong.”

Yeah, I still don’t like matcha.  But if you do, I’m sure you’ll find this quite tasty.  It consists of a matcha poppy seed waffle, green tea ice cream, and a sweet red bean topping.

Golden Bubbles

The fresh Hong Kong style waffle was great, with a delicately crisp exterior and custardy interior.  And, flavour notwithstanding, the quality of the ice cream was very good.  It was rich and creamy.  The beans were tasty as well.

But no, sorry matcha fans.  It’s beloved, and I just don’t get it.  I won’t say it’s flat-out gross, but its popularity baffles me.

I guess I’ll wait another few years and try it again.

Tasty Dim Sum at Yang’s Fine Chinese Cuisine

Yang's Fine Chinese CuisineLocation: 9665 Bayview Avenue, Richmond Hill
Websitehttp://yangsfinechinesecuisine.ca/

I really like dim sum.  It’s like brunch, but way more interesting.  There are only so many times you can have eggs benedict or pancakes before they start to bore you.  When that happens, the cavalcade of dumplings, buns, and other tasty bites at a dim sum joint are just what the doctor ordered.

Yang's Fine Chinese Cuisine

And Yang’s Fine Chinese Cuisine in Richmond Hill (not to be confused with Yang’s Chinese Cuisine in Markham) is quite good.

Yang's Fine Chinese Cuisine

I mean, look at all that stuff.  If you can tell me you don’t want to eat all of that right now, then you and me are two very different people.

Yang's Fine Chinese Cuisine

These little balls of shrimp surrounded by crunchy almond slivers might have been my favourite dish of the day.  The shrimp had a really great texture, and the crispiness and nuttiness of the exterior complimented it perfectly.

Yang's Fine Chinese Cuisine

And these pork buns?  Chicken and waffles wish they could nail the sweet/salty combo as well as these little guys.