Tasty Soft Serve Gelato at Bar Ape

Bar ApeLocation: 283 Rushton Road, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.bar-ape.com/

You wouldn’t be blamed for getting kinda bored of gelato in Toronto.  You seemingly can’t walk more than a few blocks without coming across a gelato shop in the city.  A lot of it is quite good, but after a while, it all starts to feel samey.

Enter: Bar Ape, which mixes things up by selling their gelato in soft serve form.  Of course, this means that they can only serve two flavours at a time (though chocolate-covered gelato bars are available in a variety of combinations), but it’s a worthwhile trade-off for something that’s so delightfully unique.

On this particular visit the two flavours were chocolate sorbet and fresh mint.  I got the twist, which comes with both.

Bar Ape

Sorbet is generally made without dairy, so I was concerned that it would be icy or thin, but it was rich and creamy, with a really nice dark chocolate flavour.

The fresh mint was even better; unlike 99 percent of mint ice creams, which are made with mint flavouring, this was clearly made with actual fresh mint leaves.  This gave it an interesting herby flavour that really made it stand out.  The combination between it and the chocolate was a home run.

The only real downside?  The wooden spoons.  They’re becoming more and more common in the city, and I feel bad for criticizing them — they’re obviously more environmentally-friendly than plastic — but the rough texture and mild woody flavour makes them an off-putting implement for eating ice cream.  Plastic (or metal) or GTFO.

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(Mostly) Great Gelato at Hollywood Gelato

Hollywood GelatoLocation: 1640 Bayview Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.hollywoodgelato.com/

I’m not sure why, but there are way more gelato shops in the GTA than regular ice cream.  I’m pulling this number right out of my you-know-where, but I’d guess there’s something like four gelato places for every one ice cream shop.

So when you’re talking about the best gelato in the city, there’s quite a bit of competition.  But Hollywood Gelato is certainly a strong contender for that list.

Hollywood Gelato

On a recent visit, I got Rocky Rocher (chocolate hazelnut) and Sicilian Pistachio.  The texture was phenomenal.  It’s slightly stretchy and richly creamy; you’re not going to do much better in the texture department without a plane ticket to Italy.

The flavour, however, wasn’t quite up to snuff on this particular visit.  It was still very good, but the flavour on the Rocky Rocher was a bit muted, and the pistachio was slightly too strong (I think someone was a bit heavy-handed with the pistachio flavouring in this particular batch).  There was also a vaguely unpleasant aftertaste that lingered on my palate for a while after I was done.

Hollywood Gelato

(I think I’m coming off more negative here than I should — don’t get me wrong, it was still delicious.  It just wasn’t quite as delicious as it usually is.)

On another visit, I got a couple of the wackier, Easter-inspired varieties: Creme Egg and Kinder Surprise.  Surprisingly enough, they were a lot better than the more traditional flavours I had on my previous visit.  The Kinder Surprise, in particular, really nailed the milky, chocolatey flavour of that particularly treat.