Location: 385 The West Mall, Etobicoke
Old Mill Pastry & Deli is an unassuming little place that sells a bunch of European groceries, along with pastries like burek and the thing I tried, a delightful Turkish dessert called tulumba.
I wasn’t familiar with this particular dessert until I tried it here, and clearly I’ve been missing out because it’s delicious.
The closest thing I can compare it to is a churro; they’re both fried tube-like pastries with ridges along the outside.
But the tulumba is thicker and soaked in syrup — I guess it’s kind of like if a churro and a Greek doughnut (a.k.a. loukoumades) had a baby. It’s syrupy but not overly sweet, with an interior that’s heartier than a traditional doughnut with an almost custardy flavour, and an exterior that has a satisfying crunch that’s amped up by those ridges. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I really enjoyed this.
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.
Location: 386 Royal York Road, Toronto
Remember Beard Papa? Because I certainly do! That was (and still is, though their only Canadian locations are in Vancouver) a delightful Japanese chain that specialized in delicious cream puffs. They used to have a location in the Pacific Mall, but then they broke hearts across the GTA by shutting down like a bunch of jerks.
Sadly, there’s no indication that they’re coming back anytime soon, but in the meanwhile, we’ve got Choux Lab.
Choux Lab serves up choux pastries (which are light and fluffy, with a crispy exterior) with a variety of fillings. The vanilla is probably the most Beard-Papa-esque, but they were actually handing out samples of that one, and it was delicious (and indeed, did remind me of Beard Papa, with a creamy, custardy filling), so I figured I’d order something else.
I went with the hazelnut, and it was very, very good. The filling was rich and ultra-creamy, with a great hazelnut flavour and a nice balance of sweetness — sweet, but not overwhelmingly so. Beard Papa used to fill their puffs to order, and I was worried that the pre-made ones they serve here might lack that great crispy/fluffy/creamy combo. But the one I tried wasn’t soggy at all, and all the textures were right where they should be.
Choux Lab is just a few stores over from San Remo, and I worry that everyone will just stick with the reliable deliciousness there and not give this place a shot. But everyone needs to check this place out; I need them to stick around forever and not break my heart like Beard Papa did.
Location: 3795 Lakeshore Boulevard West, Etobicoke
I (sort of) tried this place back in 2018, when they had frozen custard on the menu at Woodfire Sandwich Co, an offshoot of Woody’s Burgers. Alas, the sandwich place is no more, but the ice cream has been bumped up to its own thing (though it’s now inside Woody’s Burgers).
As I mentioned in my previous post, frozen custard (which is basically just standard ice cream with an added richness and flavour from egg yolks) is weirdly hard to find in the city. So the fact that The Loop Creamery exists at all makes me happy.
And it’s quite tasty. I think it’s actually improved since 2018; the ice cream is rich and creamy, with a mild but satisfying custard flavour. It’s quite good.
I went with the Old School, which is just peanuts and caramel in a vanilla base. The peanuts had gotten a bit soft in the ice cream, but it was otherwise quite tasty, with the rich custard base working very well with the ribbons of sweet caramel.
Banana cream pie sundae from Happy Sundae
So, hmm… I’m trying to balance my newfound desire to keep this blog negativity-free with my need to warn you that this place isn’t very good. Because it’s not very good. The biggest issue here is the “ice cream” itself, and I’m putting ice cream in quotes because they say right on their menu that the soft serve is dairy-free. Here’s the thing, though: Honey’s has illustrated fairly conclusively that it’s possible to create dairy-free ice cream that’s just as creamy and delicious as the real deal. The stuff here, on the other hand, is exactly what you fear non-dairy ice cream is going to taste like. But in the interest of not dwelling on the negative, I’ll just say that the banana slices were quite tasty (a lot of dessert places make the mistake of using underripe bananas, and that wasn’t an issue here) and leave it at that.
Jerk chicken meal from Allwyn’s Bakery
On the plus side, the small jerk chicken meal from Allwyn’s is a pretty great deal. Ignore the word “small” — for eleven bucks, you get a hearty portion of rice, two pieces of jerk chicken, and a side of coleslaw. I wish it tasted better, however. I couldn’t taste any of the spices and complexity that you’ll find in the better versions of this dish; it was just one-note salty in a way that got really monotonous to eat. It’s a deal, though!
Pineapple sundae from Tom’s Dairy Freeze
Okay, let’s end things on a more positive note. I know I’ve written about Tom’s Dairy Freeze about a billion times on this blog, and guess what? It’s still great! I got the pineapple sundae this time; the sauce has a decent proportion of small pineapple chunks and sweet syrup, but it’s the ice cream itself that’s the real draw. This is still — hands down — the best soft serve in the city. It’s rich, creamy, and delicious.