Location: 859 College Street, Toronto
I’m sorry to have to inform you, but this is one of those “stop whatever you’re doing right now and visit this bakery” moments, so whatever you’re doing right now — even if it’s important — stop it immediately. Get in your car, or get on public transit, and head over to Barbershop Patisserie. It’s the real deal.
I’ve been there a few times now, and everything is fantastic. Apparently their most popular pastry is the lemon bichon, which is kind of like a kouign-amann — it features a flaky, croissant-like laminated pastry and an exterior layer of crispy sugar, which has a deep, dark caramelized flavour. But it’s also filled with a generous amount of creamy, tart lemon curd, which contrasts perfectly with the sweet exterior. It’s not the most photogenic dessert ever, but man it’s amazing. It’s probably one of the best pastries I’ve ever had.
The chocolate chip cookie isn’t quite as mind-blowing as the lemon bichon (what is?), but it’s a top-notch cookie, with a great contrast between its crispy exterior and chewy interior, and a very generous amount of above average chocolate. The light sprinkling of salt on top helps to balance things out.
I also tried the wild blueberry custard tart, and hey, guess what? It’s delicious. It features a great balance between the creamy custard and the sweet blueberries, and of course that buttery pastry is outstanding.
But why are you still reading this? You should be on your way already.
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: 655 College Street, Toronto
Bonne Nouvelle is a delightful French/Korean patisserie with a whole bunch of seriously tasty looking treats. Though they have a tempting assortment of cakes and croissants, I just wanted something small to try, so I went with the strawberry rhubarb madeleine.
I regretted it as soon as I took a bite and realized how delicious it was. Another visit to better sample their wares is definitely in order.
With its tasty glaze and injection of strawberry rhubarb filling, it’s pretty far from a standard madeleine, but it’s so good. The cake itself is seriously tasty, and the tartness of the filling does an amazing job of offsetting the pastry’s sweetness. It might be the best madeleine I’ve ever had?
Location: 14B Brookers Lane, Etobicoke
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.