Caramel Sundae at Tom’s Dairy Freeze
Hey, gotta take advantage of Tom’s while they’re around (they’re closed all winter). On this particular visit I got a twist with hot caramel sauce, and yeah it’s as tasty as ever.
Cherry Milkjam at Bang Bang
I’ve found Bang Bang to be a bit hit-or-miss lately, but when they’re good, they’re still really good. This particular flavour is actually a “twist” of sorts — it combines cherry ice cream with dulce de leche, and yeah that’s a great combo. The cherry is a bit sour on its own, but mixing it with the sweet richness of the dulce de leche tempers its tartness and is thoroughly delicious.
Fried Chicken Sandwich at Rudy
I’ve already written about the fried chicken sandwich at Rudy (A.K.A. the Valentino), so I’m not going to beat a dead horse, but it’s still nothing particularly special. It wasn’t overcooked this time, so it had that going for it, but it was almost aggressively middling. If I you had told me it was a fried chicken sandwich from a fast food chain like Wendy’s or A&W, I would have believed you. And Rudy’s is expanding quite a bit; I guess they’re becoming a fast food chain themselves, so… it is what it is. [shrug]
Location: 1184 Queen Street West, Toronto
I recently tried the Nashville hot chicken sandwich at Chen Chen’s and found it to be a quality fried chicken sandwich that was spicy, but otherwise a bit on the bland side.
Well, clearly the Szechuan x Nashville sandwich is the way to go, because it’s thoroughly tasty — no seasoning issues here. And the fried chicken itself was just as good as last time, with a nicely crunchy exterior and a juicy interior.
I will say, however, that I’m not really sure what the sandwich does to deserve the “Szechuan” moniker; aside from a mild sweetness, it doesn’t taste all that different from standard Nashville hot chicken. I didn’t notice any numbing heat or any spicing that screams “Szechuan,” but hey — tasty is tasty. I enjoyed the sandwich. I’m not going to complain.
I also tried the sweet chili cauliflower, which the menu describes as “Fried Cauliflower tossed in sweet chili garlic sauce, topped with toasted sesame seeds, and green onions.” It’s really good — the sauce is sweet and a little bit spicy, and the cauliflower is crunchy on the outside and perfectly cooked on the inside (it’s tender but still has some bite — it’s not mushy at all).
Location: 2853 Dundas Street West, Toronto
I’ve written about Chica’s Chicken many, many times on this blog. I’ve mentioned that I think they serve the best fried chicken in the city, and that’s still probably true — even if I wasn’t crazy about this particular sandwich.
The Jalapeno Popper Sando, as per their menu: “boneless fried chicken topped with chipotle aioli and pickled jalapeños, served on a toasted brioche bun.”
The fried chicken is as delicious as ever; it’s the perfect combo of crispy (but not overbearing) exterior and juicy interior. It’s so damn good.
I’m not quite as sold on the rest of the sandwich, however. It’s that chipotle aioli. It’s sweet. I like the sweet/salty combo as much as the next guy, but holy moly the level of intense sugariness here is a bit intense. It overpowers the other flavours of the sandwich. I find the Sweet Heat sandwich at Chica’s to be a bit on the sweet side, and this one is even sweeter, somehow. Between the sweet sauce and the sweet brioche bun, the flavour is extremely one note.
It also tastes absolutely nothing like a jalapeno popper, which is odd. The whole point of a jalepeno popper is the contrast between the tangy cream cheese and the spicy bite of the jalapeno, and I don’t think there was any cream cheese here?? Or if there was, I couldn’t taste it over the aggressive sweetness.
Also, I don’t think I’ve ever had a jalapeno popper that was even remotely sweet. Am I the weird one, or is Chica’s?
Oh well. Everything else on the menu is so good that I don’t particularly care, but this is still an odd misstep from an otherwise great restaurant.
Location: 2066 Yonge Street, Toronto
Dave’s Hot Chicken is an American fried chicken chain with a couple of locations in the city, and one more on the way. It’s easy to be cynical about the explosion of fried chicken restaurants in the city (Nashville hot chicken in particular), but aside from the fact that now is not exactly an easy time to be a restauranteur, fried chicken is delicious. Nashville hot chicken is delicious. So sure, why not?
The menu here consists pretty much entirely of fried chicken tenders that you can either get on their own, or in a sandwich. You can pick from seven levels of spiciness ranging from “no spice” to “reaper.”
I went with the sandwich and got it hot, which was milder than you’d expect — it has a noticeable kick, but it’s not exactly going to get anyone too hot and bothered. If you have any kind of tolerance for heat, extra hot or even reaper is probably a better choice.
Otherwise, it was pretty tasty — the white meat is a bit on the dry side, but it’s really well seasoned and quite tasty, with an exterior that’s noticeably crispy, but not overwhelming. It’s topped with a zingy special sauce, pickles, and coleslaw, which all do a great job of cutting through the richness of the sandwich.
It comes with crinkle-cut fries that are battered and seasoned; I’m normally not crazy about battered fries, but these were pretty good (I think it’s mostly that tasty seasoning, which would probably make anything taste good).
As far as fried chicken in the GTA goes, this isn’t on the level of local joints like Chica’s or PG Clucks, but for a chain it’s not bad at all.
Location: 171 East Liberty Street (Unit 127A), Toronto
Aloette was forced to become a take-out joint last year (for obvious reasons) and I guess that’s worked out for them, because they’re leaning into it; their second location, in Liberty Village, is take-out only, with a selection that mostly consists of fried chicken, burgers, and a handful of salads.
I ordered the fried chicken sandwich, which is simply topped with aioli and pickles. It’s a top-notch sandwich; the chicken is satisfyingly crunchy and very nicely seasoned, with what seemed like an Asian-inspired flavour that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but that I thoroughly enjoyed. The zingy pickles and creamy aioli complement it well, and the bun is nice and fluffy, with just enough heft to hold up to the substantial piece of fried chicken.
The chicken itself is ever-so-slightly on the dry side, and the crunchy exterior is maybe slightly too aggressive (it actually cut the roof of my mouth), but those are both minor complaints.
They have a couple of tempting sundaes for dessert, but I couldn’t resist the lemon meringue pie; it’s a mainstay on Instagram, but is definitely more than just a pretty face. It’s luxuriously rich and creamy, and has a perfect tart/sweet balance. My biggest problem here is the crust: it’s mostly decent enough, but then you get to the big hunk at the end and it’s thick and gummy and, eaten on its own, kinda unpleasant.