Location: 3507 Bathurst Street, North York
I assumed I was in good hands when the woman behind the counter at Gouter spoke with a heavy French accent. Not that every French person can automatically make delicious pastries, but it made me think that the place was probably legit.
Yeah, about that.
I had the raspberry croissant, and it was fine. I certainly didn’t dislike eating it. But there wasn’t a single element that was better than okay.
The first sign that something was amiss was the paper bag it came in. The croissant was in there for about twenty minutes before I ate it. A good croissant should be buttery enough to immediately leave grease stains on a paper bag, but that bag was pristine.
The second sign that something was amiss came when I tore it in half and saw that it was filled with about a jar’s worth of raspberry jam. That’s too much jam. And I mean, it wasn’t unpleasant to eat, but there’s no balance there.
And as suspected, the croissant — though mildly buttery — wasn’t nearly buttery enough. It also had zero exterior crispiness other than at the very ends, and was generally lacking in flavour.
The overall experience was basically like eating a slice of Wonder Bread slathered with raspberry jam. There just wasn’t much to it — the lack of textural contrast and the one-note flavour was a bit of a bummer.
Location: 3235 Highway 7, Markham
The Cups is a little dessert shop in the First Markham plaza that specializes in bingsu, a tasty Korean shaved ice dessert.
I generally liked shaved ice, though sometimes, it’s a bit watery. The Cups has a fairly ingenious solution for this issue: they use milk instead of water for their ice, which gives the dessert a much richer, creamier consistency.
I ordered the mango bingsu, which features mango chunks, cheesecake chunks, condensed milk, mango sauce, and whipped cream.
It’s quite good. The mango pieces are ripe and sweet, and the ice-to-stuff ratio is pretty much right on point. Plus, the aforementioned milk ice ensures that the whole thing has a satisfyingly creamy consistency.
On another visit, I tried the red bean, which features soybean powder, mochi cubes, almond flakes, red bean, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I think I might have liked it even better than the mango, though the ice-to-stuff ratio was a bit off. It needed a bit more red bean (I don’t think there was any in the middle).
Location: 3797 Lake Shore Boulevard West, Etobicoke
I’ve mentioned before that frozen custard is almost impossible to find in the city. Which is completely baffling, because we have about a million ice cream shops. There’s no reason we shouldn’t have a bunch of places serving delicious frozen custard.
As far as I know, we have two: Rita’s, an outpost of an American chain near Kensington Market, and now Woodfire Sandwich Co.
If you’re not familiar with frozen custard (and if you’re living in Toronto, you’d be forgiven for not knowing what it is), it’s basically like regular ice cream, but made more luxurious and creamy with the addition of egg yolks.
Woodfire serves chocolate, vanilla, and a rotating feature flavour. You can also add a variety of optional toppings. I just got plain vanilla so I could bask in the sweet, sweet, custardy glory without anything getting in the way.
It’s good. It’s not quite as tasty as basically any frozen custard I’ve had in the States, but it’s legit. It’s got a pronounced custardy flavour and a satisfyingly silky texture. It could be creamier, and eating it gets a bit one-note sweet after a while, but all things considered, I enjoyed it.
Hey, beggars can’t be choosers. It’s frozen custard and it doesn’t require that I drive hundreds of kilometres to the States. I’ll take it.
Location: 633 Bloor Street West, Toronto
Ice cream is the best. And while what they’re serving at Put A Cone On It probably isn’t going to knock anyone’s socks off, it’s above average ice cream. Which means that, yes: it’s the best.
Plus, they make their own ice cream, which is always nice. There’s nothing more disheartening than going to an ice cream shop only to realize that they’re serving commercial stuff like Kawartha or Nestle. I can buy that at the supermarket. Get out of here with that.
They have a handful of dairy and non-dairy flavours available; I tried the roasted banana, which is one of the dairy options.
It’s quite tasty. True to its name, it has a very pronounced banana flavour that almost reminded me of banana bread, only with a more amplified fruity flavour.
The texture was ever-so-slightly icy, and it could have been richer, but it was quite good. Like I said: it probably won’t be your favourite ice cream in the city, but you’re definitely going to enjoy eating it.
Location: 319 Danforth Avenue, Toronto
The cinnamon roll from Cinnaholic is shockingly good. Not that it’s the best cinnamon roll I’ve ever had, but it’s vegan. You’re bracing for the worst when you hear that a traditionally dairy-heavy dessert has been made vegan. How could that possibly end well?
Cinnaholic, somehow, pulls it off.
It’s an interesting set-up; they have a few dozen different frosting and topping choices (if there’s a dessert topping you can think of, they probably offer it here). I wanted to see what the deal was with the roll itself, so I went as simple as possible with the “Classic Old Skool Roll,” which is topped only with vanilla frosting.
I won’t lie: I was expecting it to be dense and dry and weird, but it was pleasantly light and fluffy, with a nice cinnamon flavour and a great level of sweetness. It’s very, very sweet, but it’s not quite the throat-burning assault of sugar that you’ll get with something like Cinnabon.
The frosting is quite tasty, too — it’s rich and creamy, but also incredibly soft and light. I have no idea how they achieve that texture without dairy (I’m assuming margarine is involved), but whatever it is, it tastes pretty darn good.
That’s the surprising thing about it. Yes, it’s vegan, but it’s not good for a vegan dessert; it’s good, period.