Quick Bites: Happy Sundae, Allwyn’s Bakery, Tom’s Dairy Freeze

Banana cream pie sundae at Happy Sundae
Banana cream pie sundae from Happy Sundae

So, hmm…  I’m trying to balance my newfound desire to keep this blog negativity-free with my need to warn you that this place isn’t very good.  Because it’s not very good.  The biggest issue here is the “ice cream” itself, and I’m putting ice cream in quotes because they say right on their menu that the soft serve is dairy-free.  Here’s the thing, though: Honey’s has illustrated fairly conclusively that it’s possible to create dairy-free ice cream that’s just as creamy and delicious as the real deal.  The stuff here, on the other hand, is exactly what you fear non-dairy ice cream is going to taste like.  But in the interest of not dwelling on the negative, I’ll just say that the banana slices were quite tasty (a lot of dessert places make the mistake of using underripe bananas, and that wasn’t an issue here) and leave it at that.

Jerk chicken meal from Allwyn's Bakery
Jerk chicken meal from Allwyn’s Bakery

On the plus side, the small jerk chicken meal from Allwyn’s is a pretty great deal.  Ignore the word “small” — for eleven bucks, you get a hearty portion of rice, two pieces of jerk chicken, and a side of coleslaw.  I wish it tasted better, however.  I couldn’t taste any of the spices and complexity that you’ll find in the better versions of this dish; it was just one-note salty in a way that got really monotonous to eat.  It’s a deal, though!

Pineapple sundae from Tom's Dairy Freeze
Pineapple sundae from Tom’s Dairy Freeze

Okay, let’s end things on a more positive note.  I know I’ve written about Tom’s Dairy Freeze about a billion times on this blog, and guess what?  It’s still great!  I got the pineapple sundae this time; the sauce has a decent proportion of small pineapple chunks and sweet syrup, but it’s the ice cream itself that’s the real draw.  This is still — hands down — the best soft serve in the city.  It’s rich, creamy, and delicious.

Decent Shawarma at Oaza Shawarma Plus

Oaza Shawarma Plus
Location
: 2645 Liruma Road, Mississauga
Website: https://www.facebook.com/oazashawarmaplus/

Oaza Shawarma Plus is one of those local joints that doesn’t stand out in any particular way, but that’s still satisfying for what it is.

Oaza Shawarma Plus

I got the chicken shawarma wrap, and it was pretty good.  The chicken was entirely lacking in the crispy bits you’re hoping for from great shawarma, but aside from that it was juicy and plentiful.  The sauces (hot sauce, garlic sauce, and tahini) were all tasty, and the proportion of sauce, chicken, and fresh veggies was just right.

Oaza Shawarma Plus

Bonus: the wrap was nicely toasted in a sandwich press.  I feel like unless you’re starting with some seriously fresh, delicious bread (and the pita here was of the bagged, store-bought variety), toasting will automatically enhance a shawarma wrap.

Do you need to get in your car and drive here immediately?  No, absolutely not.  But if you’re in the area, it’s a tasty enough wrap.

Quick Bites: Sarpa Restaurant, Burger Drops, El Pocho Antojitos Bar

Sarpa Restaurant
Franco Fries at Sarpa Restaurant

This place probably deserves more than a quick bite review, but it’s one of the many restaurants I visited while this blog was on hiatus, and this seems like it’s better than nothing.  I tried a few things here, and everything was quite good, but the highlight was clearly the Franco Fries: “hand cut fries, parmesan cheese, truffle-honey essence.”  This seems like an odd thing to order at an upscale Italian restaurant, but trust me — you need these fries in your life.  The fries themselves are perfectly cooked, with a crispy exterior and creamy interior, but it’s that truffle-honey essence that really makes these things sing.  I’m normally not crazy about anything with truffle oil (most truffle oils have never seen an actual truffle in their life), but this didn’t have that flavour at all; it was garlicky, a little bit sweet, and thoroughly addictive.

Burger Drops
Burger and a chicken sandwich from Burger Drops

I tried a couple of things at Burger Drops.  The first was the original burger, which features “griddled sweet onion, American cheese, house pickles, Drop sauce, toasted potato roll.”  It’s a solid burger — the patty has a nice crust, a decent beefy flavour, and the toppings suit it well.  It’s a bit on the dry side and nothing about it really jumped out at me, but it’s a tasty burger.  If I had been reviewing it for my burger blog, I’d give it a solid three out of four.  The other thing I tried was the chicken sandwich, which is odd, but tasty.  The odd thing about it: it’s not a traditional fried chicken sandwich.  Instead, it’s basically a gourmet McChicken, right down to the reconstituted chicken patty.  It’s a fun novelty and a big step above its fast food inspiration, but I’m not sure that I’d ever elect to eat this over a standard fried chicken sandwich.

El Pocho Antojitos Bar
Chilaquiles at El Pocho Antojitos Bar

Chilaquiles is one of those dishes that really deserves to be a bigger deal.  It’s such a simple dish: it’s just tortilla chips tossed in a zingy sauce.  At El Pocho Antojitos Bar, it’s also topped with crema (I think?  It’s been a while), cheese, and a fried egg.  The sauce thoroughly coats the chips, softening them a bit, though they do still retain a bit of their crunch.  It’s a thoroughly satisfying dish.

McCrispy at McDonald’s

McCrispy from McDonald's
Location
30 Courtneypark Drive East, Mississauga
Websitehttps://www.mcdonalds.com/ca/en-ca.html

The McCrispy is the newest addition to the McDonald’s permanent menu, and… it’s fine, I guess?

It’s a fried chicken sandwich topped with shredded lettuce and “creamy mayo-style sauce,” and served on a potato bun.  It’s basically a McChicken, but with a theoretically nicer chicken patty, and with a different bun.

McCrispy from McDonald's

They also sell a deluxe version of this that comes with tomato and bacon, and that’s almost certainly the way to go — the sandwich is extremely middle-of-the-road.  It’s a fried chicken sandwich.  It exists.  It’s not offensive.  I don’t have anything much nicer than that to say about it.

I had assumed that the chicken was going to be a real chicken breast instead of the reconstituted stuff you’ll find in a McChicken (because if it isn’t, why even bother when the McChicken is still on the menu??), but it didn’t taste that way to me.  It’s quite possible that I’m misinterpreting what this sandwich is even supposed to be, because the McDonald’s website just says that it’s “100% Canadian-raised seasoned chicken” and doesn’t say anything about it being a whole piece of chicken.

McCrispy from McDonald's

But seriously then: why bother?  Because of the bun?  I guess it’s a bit chewier than your average McDonald’s bun, but if you hadn’t told me it was different, I don’t think I would have noticed.

Also: it’s always a crapshoot when you order anything from a fast food chain, but the signage outside the restaurant says the sandwich is “so juicy. So tender” and mine was neither of those things.  So I guess I prefer the McChicken — it’s extremely similar, but at least I’ve never had one of those that was this dry.

Ketchup Ice Cream (and More!) at The Ex

Ketchup ice cream at The Ex
Location
210 Princes’ Boulevard, Toronto
Websitehttps://theex.com/

The Ex!  It’s back!  And clearly I’m not the only person excited about this, because despite going in the middle of the week after work, the place was as crowded as I’ve ever seen it.  Clearly, there’s a lot of pent-up demand for sketchy rides, junky food, and stores selling random knick-knacks.

Of course, I was there for the food, and yes, I tried the ketchup ice cream.

The Ex

Two dollar spaghetti from Primo Spaghetti

This place has been around forever, though this was my first time actually trying it.  It’s pretty much exactly what you’d think a two dollar serving of spaghetti at a carnival would be: the sauce tasted like the cheapest stuff you can buy at the supermarket, and the spaghetti was overcooked mush.

The Ex

Deep fried perogies from The Perogy Chef

This is another place that’s been around forever; I’ve tried this one before and I knew it would be good, and indeed it was.  The perogies are tender, tasty, and slightly crispy on their exterior, and they’re doused in an oily sauce and a bunch of sweet caramelized onions.  The sour cream on the side adds a nice creamy zing that rounds things out quite well.  It’s a tasty snack.

The Ex

Flamin’ Hot Chicken Sandwich from Fried Chicken Sandwiches

This place promises a chicken sandwich that’s tossed in chipotle mayo and coated in Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.  Alas, the Cheetos (or Cheeto crumbs, more accurately) are just mounded on top, which isn’t quite as fun from an appearance or a taste perspective.  The whole thing is fine — it’s not the best fried chicken sandwich I’ve ever had, and it’s not the worst — but it barely has any Flamin’ Hot taste or texture.

The Ex

Viet Burrito from Pho 88

This is less of a burrito and more of an overstuffed fresh roll, but it’s still pretty tasty; it’s crammed with noodles, various veggies, chicken, and a whole spring roll, and it’s wrapped in rice paper.  It would have been nice if the peanut sauce were in the wrap instead of on the side (it’s a bit dry), but otherwise this was pretty good.  It’s basically like a Vietnamese vermicelli noodle bowl, but crammed into a handheld package.

The Ex

Fried cheese curds from the Midway

I wasn’t expecting it, but this might have been the best thing I ate at the Ex this year.  The curds are gooey and tasty, and the super satisfying crispy exterior doesn’t overwhelm.  It’s basically like a mozzarella stick, but better.  There’s not much more to say about this one.  It’s fried cheese.  It’s great.

The Ex

Ketchup ice cream from the Midway

Of course I tried the ketchup ice cream.  How could I not?  They also serve mustard ice cream; I was hoping to get both in a twist, but alas, that wasn’t an option.  I suppose I could have ordered one of each, but one of these things costs twelve bucks and I wasn’t about to spend over twenty dollars on novelty ice cream.  Anyway, it wasn’t bad!  Would I eat it again?  Absolutely not, but considering how disgusting this could have been, the fact that it’s actually pretty okay is kind of a miracle.  It has an unmistakable but (and this is key) not overwhelming ketchup flavour, which combines surprisingly well with the ice cream.  The ketchup flavour is present enough that you know exactly what you’re eating, but subtle enough to let the sweet ice cream be the star of the show.  It’s not gross!