An Amazing Sandwich at Elsa’s Food & Bakery

Elsa's Food & Bakery
Location
: 30 Baywood Road, Unit 15, Etobicoke
Website: https://www.facebook.com/Elsas-bakery-1905919683049150/

Elsa’s is a delightful hole-in-the-wall Iraqi bakery that specializes in a pita-esque flatbread called samoon; you can get it on its own (you should do this) or stuffed with shawarma or falafel (you should do this too).

This is the latest hidden gem I’ve discovered thanks to the inimitable Suresh Doss, and like basically everything he writes about, it’s great.

Elsa's Food & Bakery

It’s that bread.  It’s chewy, fluffy, flavourful, and amazing.  It’s tasty as part of a sandwich, but it’s also pretty damn good on its own.

I got the falafel sandwich, which comes with the usual toppings, along with the delightful addition of eggplant and fries.  The last time I had eggplant in a falafel sandwich was at L’As du Fallafel in Paris, and I’m starting to seriously wonder why every falafel sandwich doesn’t have eggplant in it.  It’s a fantastic addition.

Elsa's Food & Bakery

The other thing that stands out is the sauce they top it with, called amba — it’s a mango-based sauce, and it’s sweet, sour, tangy, and delicious, with a mildly curry-tinged flavour.  It’s not a subtle sauce; its intense zippiness completely dominated the other flavours in the sandwich, but it’s so tasty that this barely felt like an issue.

Tasty Scoops at Lola’s Gelato

Lola's GelatoLocation: 14B Brookers Lane, Etobicoke
Website: https://www.lolasgelato.com/

I’ve been back to Lola’s a couple of times since my first visit in 2018, and I think they’re just getting better and better.

On my first visit I found the gelato to be above average, but nothing that’s worth getting too excited about.  Now, on the other hand, I think maybe you should be getting a little bit excited.  It’s very, very good.

Lola's Gelato

I had Peach Blueberry Sundae, which features a really delightful combo of fresh peach and blueberry flavours.  It hadn’t even occurred to me that those two fruits would work so well together, but clearly they do because the flavour is delicious.

And the texture is just right, with a really satisfying level of creaminess and absolutely none of the iciness that you sometimes get in fruity ice creams.  It’s top notch.

Decent Ribs at Brickyard BBQ

Brickyard BBQLocation: 120 North Queen Street, Etobicoke
Website: https://www.brickyardbbq.ca/

Brickyard BBQ is a ribfest vendor with a permanent location (or semi-permanent at least — I can’t imagine they’ll still be around once winter hits), so if you’re in the mood for a mini ribfest experience, it should hit the spot.  There’s even a Tiny Tom’s truck parked across from it, but alas, it was closed when I visited.

They have the usual assortment of ribs, pulled pork, and chicken, though ribs are obviously their specialty (they have a huge sign boasting about their “legendary ‘double-smoked’ ribs”).  I ordered a third rack with coleslaw and baked beans on the side (rice and peas is also a choice).

Brickyard BBQ

It was fine.  I’ve never had ribs from a ribfest that particularly blew me away, and these were far from the best ribfest ribs I’ve had (how many times can I say ribs in a sentence??  Ribs ribs ribs).  They weren’t smoky at all, and they had a mildly leftovery flavour, but mostly they were decent enough.  The texture was okay, with a nice bite that wasn’t overly tough.

The most noteworthy thing about them was the sauce they had slathered them in — the spicing was quite unique, with a really distinctive flavour that was unlike any BBQ sauce I’ve had before.  It’s different enough to be off-putting at first, though it mostly grew on me.

Brickyard BBQ

As for the sides, the baked beans had the same distinctive flavour as the sauce, but were otherwise quite good — hearty and not too sweet.  And the coleslaw, oddly enough, was the highlight.  It’s a pretty by-the-numbers creamy coleslaw, but it’s well executed and tasty (hey, not every dish needs to reinvent the wheel).

Quick Bites: Tom’s Dairy Freeze, Soma Chocolatemaker, Nani’s Gelato

Tom's Dairy Freeze
Cherry Sundae at Tom’s Dairy Freeze

I mean, come on: if you go the whole summer without going to Tom’s Dairy Freeze at least once, was it really the summer?  I submit that it was not.  It’s certainly not the most exciting ice cream joint in the city, but they’ve been pumping out consistently great no-frills soft serve for decades, and it’s a million times better than the stuff you’ll find at chains like Dairy Queen or McDonald’s.  On this particular visit I got a sundae with chocolate ice cream and cherry sauce, and yeah, that’s a great combo.  The sauce is excessively sweet (it tastes like maraschino cherries in a thick syrup), but then that’s kind of the charm of a place like this.

Soma
Roasted Almond and Sicilian Pistachio at Soma Chocolatemaker

I’ve mentioned before that Soma serves some of the best gelato in the city, and yeah, it’s still top notch.  I recently tried roasted almond and Sicilian pistachio, and both flavours were rich, creamy, and deeply flavourful.

Nani's Gelato
Malai Kulfi and Mango Chocolate Chip at Nani’s

I don’t think I need to spend more time on this blog on the greatness of Nani’s Gelato.  I’ve thoroughly covered that.  So I’ll just say that on a recent visit I tried malai kulfi and mango chocolate chip, and both flavours were unsurprisingly fantastic.  Malai kulfi, in particular, had that perfect Nani’s balance of a unique flavour and amazingly creamy gelato.  As for mango chocolate chip, I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical about the combo of mango and chocolate, and… to be honest, I’m still skeptical.  But the mango ice cream was so delicious that I thoroughly enjoyed it, despite the flavours not working particularly well together.

Quick Bites: Chodang Soon Tofu, Khau Gully, La Paloma

Chodang Soon Tofu
Kimchee soon tofu bowl at Chodang Soon Tofu

I’ve written about this place a couple of times before, both for this blog and another one, which is why I’m not bothering with a full post for this particular meal.  But I feel obligated to point out that Chodang Soon Tofu is still great; their namesake dish, a seriously delicious and hearty bowl of stew crammed with creamy tofu, is as vibrant and amazing as ever.  If you’re even remotely in the area, don’t miss this place; it’s a gem.

Khau Gully
Various dishes at Khau Gully

I tried a handful of dishes at Khau Gully, a delightful Indian restaurant just south of Yonge and Eglinton.  Nothing particularly knocked my socks off, but everything was solid.  In particular, the nimbu dhaniya murg featured tender chunks of chicken in a deliciously zippy sauce, and the awadhi subzi featured nicely cooked veggies in a very creamy, tasty sauce.  The kulfi is also worth checking out.  If you’ve never had kulfi before, it has a unique richness that makes it feel pretty distinct from traditional ice cream.

La Paloma
Zuppa Inglese at La Paloma

If I’m trying a gelato place for the first time, I’m probably going to pick a simple flavour like pistachio or stracciatella to gauge the quality of the ice cream.  But if it’s a place I’m familiar with, all bets are off; I’m instantly drawn to odder flavours I might not have tried before.  And I can’t say I’ve ever had a gelato flavour quite like the Zuppa Inglese at La Paloma: “English trifle with layers of cranberries, orange zest and our homemade sponge cake.”  It absolutely nails the trifle flavour, with the fruity/cakey/custardy taste shining through.  It’s also got that in-your-face booziness that you’ll often find in Italian desserts; this is a bit of an acquired taste (and it’s not my favourite thing in the world), but I don’t mind it.  The gelato itself was a bit icy, but this was otherwise a top-notch flavour.