Location: 224 Queen Street West, Toronto
Marvelous by Fred is a French bakery chain with a bunch of locations in Europe, the States, and, in the last couple of years, Canada. They have a handful of tasty looking desserts and sandwiches, but their specialty is the Merveilleux, a tasty combo of whipped cream and meringue.
They serve a few different varieties of this, but the classic is the dark chocolate, which the store describes as “dark chocolate whipped cream & dark chocolate shavings.”
It’s good. Obviously it’s good — it’s just a big pile of crispy meringue chunks held together by chocolate-infused whipped cream, and then covered in shaved dark chocolate and topped with more cream. You literally cannot go wrong with that. How could you?
It’s not mind-blowing, though. I know that its creation is likely more involved than it tastes, but it kinda feels like I could mix together meringue, whipped cream, and chocolate at home and wind up with largely the same result.
I’m almost certainly not giving the bakery enough credit, but I can’t say I’ve ever thought that about literally any dessert from a French bakery, so there’s that.
Location: 4 St. Patrick Street, Toronto
A mochi doughnut, for the unaware, is basically a regular doughnut, but with the addition of rice flour. This gives it a delightfully chewy texture that works better than you might expect. Even if you don’t like mochi, it’s worth a shot — the chewiness is definitely there, but it’s not particularly aggressive.
They have nine flavours at Isabella’s; they all looked tasty, but I went with the s’mores (“chocolate, toasted meringue, graham crackers”).
It’s really good. The chocolate glaze has a nice chocolatey flavour that isn’t too sweet, and while the fluffy toasted meringue isn’t super marshmallowy, it’s tasty and complements the chocolate well. I don’t think the graham cracker crumbs made much of a difference, but it’s tasty either way.
As for the doughnut itself, yeah, it’s good. The chewiness is just enough to set it apart from a standard doughnut, but not so much that it feels overwhelming. It’s really satisfying.
Lobster-topped stuffed tilapia from Red Lobster
I used to love Red Lobster as a kid. It was my birthday restaurant for pretty much the entirety of my childhood, so I still have very warm, fuzzy memories of the place. Every several years I feel the need to go back to indulge my nostalgia and remind myself that no, it’s not very good. The lobster-topped stuffed tilapia was actually surprisingly terrible; the flavour was one-note salty and it was absolutely doused in an unpleasant cream sauce. The rice tasted like one of those Uncle Ben’s packets from Dollarama that’s been reheated about a dozen times. The whole thing was just a straight-up bummer. I do still enjoy the biscuits, however, so there’s that.
Smoked Butternut Squash and Egg sandwich from Tuck Shop Kitchen
Though they had more traditional breakfast sandwiches on their menu (which they serve only on Sundays), I was intrigued by this one, which comes topped with “Applewood smoked butternut squash ‘Bacon’, Canadian cheddar, egg and roasted garlic aioli on a toasted sesame bun.” It’s a tasty sandwich, though like with most items labeled as vegetarian bacon, the squash did not resemble anything even vaguely related to bacon. It was just a smoky slice of squash. Still, it works quite well in the sandwich — my only complaint would be that it’s a very rich sandwich, and needs something acidic to cut that down a bit. The menu lists pickled jalapenos as an optional one dollar addon, and I think that would be the thing this sandwich is missing.
Candy Cane Bark gelato from Lola’s Gelato
I feel like everyone (myself included!) sleeps on Lola’s because it’s so far out of the downtown core, but every time I go there I’m impressed by how great the gelato is. This visit was no different; I was particularly struck with the quality of the gelato itself, which is incredibly rich and creamy. And the flavour was great, with a nice balance of mintiness and chocolate. Their assortment of flavours tends to be a bit more basic than places like Nani’s or Mizzica, but when the gelato itself is this great, who cares?
Porchetta sandwich from Porchetta and Co.
I’ve written about the porchetta sandwich from this place before, but just as an update: it’s still quite tasty. However, on this particular visit it was a bit on the dry side, which made me kinda wish I had ordered the House Special sandwich (which comes with a bunch of toppings) instead of the porchetta on its own. And indeed, ordering the porchetta sandwich sans-toppings, which used to be the shop’s bread and butter, isn’t even listed on the menu at this point. Still, it’s a top notch sandwich however you order it.
Super Baked at Ruru Baked
“Super Baked” at Ruru Baked is a thoroughly odd (but tasty) scoop of ice cream. It’s absolutely crammed with various chunks of cake and cookies and it’s certainly not unpleasant to eat, but I think it’s like 75% chunks and 25% ice cream? The ice cream is basically just there to bind the chunks together. I like a chunky ice cream as much as the next guy, but if I wanted to eat cake I’d eat cake. Still, it’s quite tasty, so I can’t complain too much.
Chocolate ice cream from Good Behaviour
And on the opposite end of the ice cream spectrum: plain old chocolate ice cream. Yeah, it’s kind of boring, but you know what? When the quality of ice cream is as good as it is here, it actually isn’t. The chocolate ice cream here has a super intense chocolate flavour, and a texture that’s abundantly rich and creamy. This place easily serves some of the best ice cream in the city (or the best? Maybe).
Turkey Aussie Burger at Wish Restaurant
My new policy with this blog is that it’s a negativity-free zone, so I’ll highlight the crispy fried potatoes that come on the side here, which are super tasty — they’re perfectly crispy on the outside, and creamy on the inside — and I’ll leave it at that. I’ll also say that my dining companions both enjoyed their meal, and that the place was packed (and always seems to be packed), so maybe I was just being a grumpy gus.
Ice Cream Bar at Nadege
Again, this is a negativity-free zone, so I’ll just say that Nadege has ice cream bars now, and that I didn’t particularly care for the one I tried; it’s probably slightly below a higher-end mass-produced product like Magnum or Haagen-Dazs in quality, but much, much more expensive at about seven bucks (!!) per bar.
Birthday Cake ice cream at Good Behaviour Ice Cream
And on the exact opposite end of the quality spectrum, there’s Good Behaviour Ice Cream. I like this place more and more each time I go (and I liked it a lot right from the get-go). This particular scoop has that classic birthday cake flavour, and the quality of the ice cream is off the charts; it’s almost absurdly creamy and rich. Assuming we’re splitting traditional ice cream and gelato into two separate categories, I think this place and Bang Bang are neck and neck for the title of the best ice cream in the city (but if gelato is in the mix, then Nani’s pretty much has to be the king).