Location: 2883 Lake Shore Boulevard West, Etobicoke
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.
It’s quite tasty. I mean, how could it not be? It’s just plain cake with chocolate and coconut — all tasty stuff.
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.
Margherita pizza from Pizzeria Via Napoli
I suppose you could order something from a Neapolitan pizza joint that isn’t a margherita pizza, but why would you? As I’ve mentioned before, it’s the perfect food. It’s also a great test of a restaurant’s chops, because it’s so simple that if your technique isn’t on point, and if the ingredients you’re working with aren’t great, it’s going to show. Pizzeria Via Napoli’s version absolutely hits it out of the park; the crust is flavourful, perfectly chewy, and has a good amount of char on its exterior (including the bottom of the slice). And the other ingredients are just right. Margherita test: passed!
Ramen from Ikkoi Japanese Family Cuisine
Speaking of food that’s perfect: ramen. It’s the best. I ordered the tonkotsu ramen from Ikkoi (they serve several other styles of ramen, along with sushi and other Japanese standbys), and it’s pretty decent. Is it the best bowl of ramen that I’ve ever had? No; their menu is so broad that they’re probably spreading themselves a bit thin. But there’s also absolutely nothing wrong with it. I wouldn’t go out of my way for it, but if you’re in the area and you’re craving a bowl of ramen, it’s worth a shot.
Dark Chocolate Oreo at Nani’s Gelato
Nani’s continues to be great. I don’t particularly feel the need to write about Nani’s every time I eat there, because I think it’s fairly clear by this point that I think Nani’s serves some truly stellar gelato. But I would like to note that, even though it’s not technically on the menu, Nani’s does have a kids size cup that’s pretty much the perfect amount if you’re not super hungry. It’s the same size cup as the small, but the gelato pretty much only goes to the brim instead of being mounded way up. I’m not sure why they don’t advertise this size, but I’m definitely glad I know it exists. And now you do too!
Location: 82 Lakeshore Road East, Mississauga
Scoops is a fun little ice cream shop in Port Credit that serves scoops, sundaes, and milkshakes, and that makes all their own ice cream in-house.
It actually reminds me a lot of Ed’s Real Scoop, particularly the layout, with gelato up front and the various ice cream flavours behind it.
They have a whole bunch of interesting flavours (I didn’t count, but it’s gotta be over twenty); I went with Nutella banana.
It’s pretty decent. It’s probably not worth going out of your way for if you’re not already in Port Credit, but it’s a solid scoop of ice cream. My flavour was a bit icy, but was otherwise quite rich and creamy.
The yellow colour made me worried that banana extract might be involved, but if it was, I couldn’t tell (the ice cream actually had a slightly underripe banana flavour). And of course, I don’t have to tell you that banana and Nutella are great together.
Also: I’m just happy whenever an ice cream shop is still using plastic spoons. Sorry, the environment — wooden spoons are horrible. I’m pretty sure that if they eat ice cream in hell (fart flavoured, I guess?), they use wooden spoons.
Location: 359 Rue Bernard Ouest, Montreal, Quebec
Every time I’ve had a babka or a babka-like dessert, it’s been okay at best (or much, much worse — the chocolate buffalo from Bagel Nash comes to mind). So I didn’t have particularly high hopes for the chocolate babka at Boulangerie Cheskie, but after seeing it on a few lists of the best bakeries in Montreal, I figured I’d give it a shot.
I guess I’m going to have to start figuring out where the best babka in Toronto can be procured, because who knew a babka could be this good??
It’s outstanding. I wish I had taken a picture of its glorious, glorious innards, because you really don’t get a sense of how incredible this thing is just by looking at the outside. It’s chewy, fresh, and amazingly fudgy– Eater referred to it as “the love child of a brownie and brioche roll,” and yeah, that’s about right. It’s gooey and chocolatey and addictive.
I guess I’m glad that this bakery is several hundred kilometres away, because I could eat about a million of these. As soon as I finished it I was extremely tempted to head back inside and buy another one, but there was other food to eat, so I restrained myself.
Location: 93a Ossington Avenue, Toronto
Bang Bang is a bit less exciting these days; they have a pretty set selection of permanent and rotating flavours, and once you’ve tried them all, you’ve tried them all. The early, more experimental days where there were always at least a couple of odd new flavours to try are, sadly, long gone. I can’t remember the last time I saw something new on their menu.
The quality is still fantastic, however. I had the WTF2 on my most recent visit (“a smooth dark chocolate, 70% callebaut chip”), and holy moly it’s good. Super creamy, intense chocolately flavour, good level of sweetness, and the chocolate pieces are thin enough that they still melt in your mouth (a lot of chocolate in ice cream tends to have that issue where it’s so cold that it’s mostly just crunchy with no real flavour).
New places like Good Behaviour are giving Bang Bang a run for their money, but it’s clear that Bang Bang still knows how to make a primo scoop. They’re also, as you can tell from the photo above, still doing quite well, which is nice to see.