Quick Bites: Red Lobster, Tuck Shop Kitchen, Lola’s Gelato

Lobster-topped stuffed tilapia from Red Lobster
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
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
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?

Quick Bites: Porchetta and Co., Ruru Baked, Good Behaviour

Porchetta sandwich from Porchetta and Co.
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

“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.

Super Baked at Ruru Baked
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).

Quick Bites: Wish Restaurant, Nadege, Good Behaviour Ice Cream

Turkey Aussie Burger at Wish Restaurant
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
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
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).

Quick Bites: Bobbie Sue’s Mac + Cheese, Bang Bang, A&W

Blue Buffalo Chicken from Bobbie Sue's Mac + Cheese
Blue Buffalo Chicken from Bobbie Sue’s Mac + Cheese

I’ve tried Bobbie Sue’s Mac + Cheese a couple of times and enjoyed it quite a lot.  Alas, this visit wasn’t quite as stellar.  I had the Blue Buffalo Chicken, which features chicken and Buffalo sauce mixed right in with the pasta, and crumbles of blue cheese on top.  It’s a tasty combo, and it certainly wasn’t bad — but the pasta was overcooked, the whole thing was weirdly soupy, and it wasn’t evenly heated (the edges were piping hot, and the middle was surprisingly cold).  Hopefully it was just an off day, because my last couple of visits were actually pretty special.

Beer and Brown Bread ice cream from Bang Bang
Beer and Brown Bread ice cream from Bang Bang

Beer and Brown Bread is a flavour that’s been popping up on Bang Bang’s menu for years, though for whatever reason I hadn’t tried it until now.  It’s… weird!  The ice cream itself is actually not that sweet, and captures the beer flavour with unnerving accuracy (it’s fairly bitter, like an IPA).  It took me a while to warm up to it, but once you wrap your mind around it, it’s actually quite good.  It’s also got somewhat crispy pieces of brown bread mixed in, which complements the beer flavour of the ice cream quite well.

Chocolate Turnover made with KitKat from A&W
Chocolate Turnover made with KitKat from A&W

Not much to say about this one — it’s a fried pie filled with chocolatey goo, with little crispy bits interspersed throughout.  I feel like any fried pie is going to be tasty, and yeah, it’s good.  The combo of the crispy exterior and crispy bits within adds some nice texture, and the chocolatey goo is satisfying.  The whole thing is a bit too sweet and doesn’t quite have the punch of chocolate flavour that you’re hoping it might, but I still quite enjoyed it.

Tasty Australian Pastries at The Sydney Grind

The Sydney Grind
Location
: 2883 Lake Shore Boulevard West, Etobicoke
Website: https://www.thesydneygrind.com/

The Sydney Grind is a delightful Australian-themed coffee shop that serves a bunch of tasty-looking pastries.  One of those pastries: the lamington, an Australian specialty that features yellow cake coated in chocolate and coconut.

The Sydney Grind

It’s quite tasty.  I mean, how could it not be?  It’s just plain cake with chocolate and coconut — all tasty stuff.

The Sydney Grind

Well, I guess you could mess it up by making a bad quality cake or using shoddy chocolate, but that’s clearly not the case here.  The cake is tasty and moist, and the chocolate/coconut combo is expectedly delicious.