Tasty Chocolate Ice Cream at Avoca

AvocaLocation: 176 Hampton Avenue, Toronto
Website: https://avoca.business.site/

Avoca is a delightful little chocolate shop that makes their own ice cream.  It’s also in a seriously unfortunate location — it’s in Greektown right off the Danforth, but it’s far enough off the main stretch that you wouldn’t know it’s there unless you’re looking for it.  It’s a bit hidden.

It’s a shame; I think more people would be talking about this place if it were in a better location.  I’m not sure about the chocolates, but the ice cream is top notch.

Avoca

I tried a scoop of the classic chocolate ice cream, and it’s definitely above average.  It was served way too cold (the woman behind the counter was having quite the struggle just getting a scoop), but everything else about it was great — it had a deep chocolately flavour, it wasn’t too sweet, and the ice cream itself was rich and creamy.

Style over Substance at Maha’s

Maha'sLocation: 226 Greenwood Avenue, Toronto
Website: https://www.mahasbrunch.com/

The Mind Blowing Chicken Sandwich at Maha’s is one of those dishes you see and immediately want to eat.  No, scratch that — need to eat.  I mean, look at that thing.

But then, that’s kind of the problem, isn’t it?  It’s a tasty dish, but it also feels very much like something that was created to be a stunner on Instagram, with the actual flavour being secondary.

Maha’s Mind Blowing Chicken, per the menu: “Maha’s sacred marinate, tossed with parsley, onions and tomatoes, served on a toasted egg bun with tomeya, homemade mayo and tehina.”

Maha's

The very generous pile of chicken is nice and moist, with a very unique and distinctive spicing that makes it stand out.  The sauces, too, compliment it quite nicely, and the onions and tomatoes add some welcome freshness and crunch.

But it’s a very assertively-flavoured dish, and I’ll admit that by the end, it was getting to be a bit much.  It really needed something on the side to help round things out and add a little variety.  There’s so much of that chicken; it starts out delightful, but eventually turns one-note and tiresome.

Maha's

It doesn’t help that the bun is all wrong.  Its fluffy lightness is completely lost among the chicken’s very assertive flavours, and the bottom bun (yes, there is a bottom bun underneath that pile) turns into complete mush.

We had ordered some of the balady pita bread on the side, and it worked so much better  — it has a nice chewy texture that holds up to the saucy chicken, and a nutty flavour that complements and helps to mellow out the assertive spicing.  I wish it had come as a wrap in that bread, but then that wouldn’t be quite the showstopper on Instagram, would it?

Maha's

I also tried the falafel, which was unambiguously delicious, and maybe the best falafel in the city.  It’s crispy, fluffy, and delightfully herby.  I couldn’t help but compare it to the stuff I recently had at Paramount, and it was night and day.  It’s almost a completely different dish.

Amazing Shawarma at Shawarma Frenzy

Shawarma FrenzyLocation: 1011 Pape Avenue, Toronto
Website: None

I think the shawarma wrap at Shawarma Frenzy might just be the best deal in the city (it’s in the top five, that’s for sure).  It costs a mere $6.75, it’s the approximate size and heft of a small baby, and it’s crazy delicious.  There’s no downside.

Shawarma Frenzy

The chicken shawarma itself is absolutely outstanding; it nails every element.  Most importantly, it’s got a surfeit of the dark crispy bits that makes great shawarma so satisfying, but it’s not dried out at all, with tender, juicy meat.  And it’s really nicely seasoned.  It’s amazing.

Shawarma Frenzy

And the wrap features a very, very generous amount of meat, not to mention a good balance of fresh veggies, zingy pickles, and tasty sauces.  It has a nice garlicky hit, but it’s not so aggressive that you’ll be tasting garlic for the rest of the day.  I wish it were a little bit spicier (it’s just barely spicy), but that’s a very minor complaint.

The pita bread is great too — it’s fresh, a little bit chewy, and nicely crisped up in a sandwich press.  It’s a top notch shawarma wrap.  And it’s $6.75!  That’s ridiculous.

Delicious Bread Pudding and Pie at Bobbette and Belle

Bobbette and BelleLocation: 1121 Queen Street East, Toronto
Website: http://bobbetteandbelle.com/

It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that Bobbette and Belle is one of the best bakeries in the GTA.  Maybe the best?  It’s right up there, that’s for sure.

I tried the apple bread pudding on a recent visit, which they heat up and serve with a very tasty custard sauce.  I mean, look at it.  Do I even need to mention that it’s delicious?  Of course it’s delicious.

Bobbette and Belle

It’s crispy on its exterior and creamy inside, with a great custardy flavour.  The apples give it a nice zing, and the melty chocolate (yes, there’s melty chocolate in there, in case it didn’t already seem amazing enough) compliments it so well.  My only real complaint is that the apples are a bit crisp.  I know some people like their apples firm in pies and baked goods, but those people are wrong.  Tender apples 4 eva.

Still, the whole thing is so tasty that it just barely matters.

On another visit (yeah, I’ve been there a bunch, so what, wanna fight about it?) I tried the coconut banana cream pie, which was even better.

Bobbette and Belle

I love both banana cream pies and coconut cream pies, so I have no idea why it never occurred to me that you could combine the two, but you can and it’s amazing.  There’s also a layer of dulce de leche at the bottom of the pie, which gives the whole thing a rich, caramely flavour — and yet it’s not too sweet.  It’s perfect.

The crust is great too — crispy but not overly crunchy, with a nice buttery flavour and a mild sweetness that works amazingly well with the rest of the pie.  The whole thing is ridiculously good.

Descendant: Still Some of the Best Pizza in the City

Descendant PizzaLocation: 1168 Queen Street East, Toronto
Website: http://descendantdsp.com/

Though I generally like to visit places I haven’t tried when I eat out, exceptions have to be made.  Especially in the case of a restaurant serving food as great as Descendant, which makes superb Detroit-style pizza.  It’s a strong contender for the best pizza in the city.

And yeah, it’s still great.

I tried a couple of pizzas — the Gatt-Daddy (“house made fennel sausage, Mama Lil’s Peppers, red onion, sauce, basil aioli, fresh parsley & basil”) and the Jaffna (“kothu roti, mango chutney, cilantro cream, green onion, Calabrian chilis, fresh cilantro, coconut sambol”).

Descendant Pizza

Orrdering a pizza as bizarrely topped as the Jaffna might be a dicey proposition at a lesser pizza joint — but Descendant is not a lesser pizza joint.  Aside from making technically superb pizzas, Descendant does an amazing job of taking seemingly bizarre flavour combos and doing something special with them.  The Jaffna is sweet, spicy, savoury, and tangy in all the best ways.

The Gatt-Daddy is more traditional, and of course, they knock it out of the park.

Descendant Pizza

It helps that the pizza itself is so good — the crust is delightfully crispy on the bottom, and dense enough to hold up to the voluminous toppings while still being delightfully fluffy and amazing.  It’s a balancing act, and one that Descendant pulls of beautifully.

And of course, there’s that Detroit-style pizza trademark — the ring of dark, crispy goodness around the pizza where the cheese has come into contact with the square pan.  It’s so good.