Quick Bites: Nani’s Gelato, Fishman Lobster Clubhouse, and Bakerbots Baking

Nani's GelatoPumpkin Pie and Chocolate gelato from Nani’s Gelato

I’ve written about Nani’s Gelato a couple of times for this blog, and it continues to be fantastic.  Both flavours were top-notch, and the gelato itself is as rich and creamy as ever.  Alas, they’re currently closed for the season; apparently a permanent location might be in the cards, so fingers crossed that they’re able to make this happen.  Clearly, gelato of this calibre needs to available all year round.

Fishman Lobster ClubhouseLobster mountain at Fishman Lobster Clubhouse

I don’t have much to add about this place since I wrote about it last — but come on.  Look at that thing.  That’s a photo you have to share.  And that’s the impressive thing about this place: it seems like it’s expressly designed to impress on social media (and yeah, it clearly is), but it’s also surprisingly delicious.  It’s meaty and perfectly cooked, and the way they fry it makes it a bit more interesting than standard boiled/steamed lobster, but still allows the meat be the star of the show (it’s fried in the shell, so the majority of the meat isn’t battered).  It’s so good.

Bakerbots Baking (Bang Bang)Orange Cardamom ice cream from Bakerbots Baking

Hot tip: Bakerbots Baking serves a decent assortment of Bang Bang ice cream flavours, so if you ever feel like a scoop of Bang Bang without the line, head to Bakerbots.  And the orange cardamom was exactly what I was hoping it would be: creamy and orangey like the best creamsicle you’ve ever had, but with a nice hit of cardamom flavour.  It’s a quality scoop of ice cream.

A Disappointing Meal at Dreyfus

Dreyfus
Location
: 96 Harbord Street, Toronto
Website: https://www.facebook.com/Dreyfus-Toronto-382976892314156/

Dreyfus’ main claim to fame is that it was opened by an alumnus of Joe Beef, a seriously acclaimed Montreal bistro (among many, many accolades, it was recently called Canada’s second best restaurant).  I’ve never tried that place, so this seemed like the next best thing.

The menu consists of various small, shareable plates with big price tags; cheap eats this isn’t, but then every now and then you need to break the bank and try some top-notch food.  Or at least, that was the idea.

Dreyfus

The menu is entirely French, which means that effectively, there is no menu — the waiter tells you about every dish, and then you have to remember it all; not ideal for a place that requires you to order multiple dishes.  That whole conceit is a bit overly precious, but if the food is great, who cares?

Yeah, about that.

Nothing is outright bad, I’ll give it that, but for what they’re charging, the food is very much a mixed bag.

Dreyfus

There were some highlights, however.  There was a dish that featured endives topped with tender roast pork shoulder that was particularly delicious.  The endive was doused in a tasty, Russian-style dressing and was basically a variation on a wedge salad, and the thickly-sliced pork was meaty and tender.

Dreyfus

The croque cubano — essentially an open-faced Cubano that you can eat in a couple of bites — was crispy, meaty, zesty, and satisfying.

Dreyfus

And the ice cream sandwich featured top-notch ice cream sandwiched between two chewy, delicious cookies.

Dreyfus

Everything else was a bit iffy.  The steak tartare was fine, but it was way overseasoned and had zero beefy flavour.

Dreyfus

I can’t remember what the croquette was even supposed to be; the vaguely yogurty interior was basically just a thick, tasteless sludge.

Dreyfus

This squash dish topped with Jersey Royal cheese should have been tasty, but the cheese was haphazardly applied, and most of the squash was undercooked and crunchy.

The mackerel seemed okay, but it was absolutely doused in an overly vinegary sauce that completely overwhelmed the fish.

Dreyfus

The madelines were basically tasty, but they were overcooked and dry, and the sauce that comes on the side was overly sweet (the sugar that was haphazardly dumped into the container probably didn’t help).

Quick Bites: Sweet Jesus, Parka Food Co., and Bakerbots Baking

Sweet Jesus
Apple Fritter Crisp from Sweet Jesus

This was actually pretty tasty.  Here’s how Sweet Jesus describes the Apple Fritter Crisp: “Vanilla soft serve, Apple pie sauce, Apple fritter pieces, Apple fritter crumb, Caramel sauce.”  I enjoyed it, mostly — it pretty much nails the apple pie/crumble element, with a cinnamon-infused flavour, and a nice hit of caramel and apples.  But the “apple fritter crumb” it’s rolled in was more chewy than crispy (there was a disconcerting lack of crispiness for something with “crisp” in its name), and the apple fritter pieces were entirely absent.  Still, the creamy vanilla ice cream and the apple-crumble-infused flavour are a tasty combo.

Parka Food Co.
Caesar Salad at Parka Food Co.

I recently found myself back at Parka Food Co., a place that specializes in vegan eats; on my first visit I had a sandwich and found the bun to be fairly horrifying, so I skipped the sandwiches and went with a Caesar salad instead.  It was fine, I guess?  Caesar dressing traditionally features very non-vegan ingredients like anchovies, egg yolks, and cheese; whatever vegan alternatives they used here were decent enough.  But the dressing was overly vinegary, and the pickled onions on top are a bizarre choice — they only amplify the puckery vinegar flavour.

Blackbird Baking Co.
Lemon Tart and Raspberry Rosewater Tart from Bakerbots Baking

Both of these tarts were absolutely fantastic, particularly the Raspberry Rosewater tart, which featured an ultra-rich custard with a pronounced rosewater flavour that complimented the tart raspberries on top perfectly.  And unlike the last pie I had at this place, the crust was superlative; it was crispy, buttery, and perfect.

Quick Bites: Moxie’s, Tom’s Dairy Freeze, and Blackbird Baking Co.

Moxie'sDouble Cheese Nachos at Moxie’s

Before having these nachos, I hadn’t been to Moxie’s in several years.  My recollection is that the place was deeply mediocre, and hey, wouldn’t you know it, it’s still deeply mediocre.  The nachos were fine-ish; they’re somewhere in the vicinity of fine, I guess?  For something called “Double Cheese” nachos, there were a lot of dry chips, and there otherwise isn’t much going on here other than some chopped tomatoes and sliced jalapenos.  It’s one-note in its flavour, and desperately needs something with a bit of acidity/zinginess to perk it up a bit (salsa could have filled this role, but the salsa here tasted like it came out of a jar — and a particularly shoddy one, at that).

It’s also crazy overpriced for what it is; with the pulled chicken (which was basically stewed chicken mush) and guacamole (which was exceptionally bland), the platter comes up to a whopping 29 bucks, which is a galling amount to pay for such a mediocre plate of nachos.

Tom's Dairy Freeze
Hot Fudge Sundae at Tom’s Dairy Freeze

I’ve written about Tom’s Dairy Freeze a couple of times before, which is why I didn’t bother writing a whole post about this, but it’s worth noting that the hot fudge sauce here is above average.  It’s not great, mind you (the ice cream itself is definitely the reason to come to Tom’s), but it has a decent chocolate flavour, and it’s not overly sweet.  It’s definitely a cut above a place like Dairy Queen.

Blackbird Baking
Cinnamon Bun at Blackbird Baking Co.

Like the almond croissant at Blackbird Baking Co., the cinnamon bun is a lot more subtle than you’re expecting it to be — but it’s also delicious.  It’s basically like a croissant and a cinnamon bun had a baby.   The croissants at Blackbird are quite good, so yeah, this is as good as you’d hope.

Tasty Chocolate Ice Cream at Avoca

AvocaLocation: 176 Hampton Avenue, Toronto
Website: https://avoca.business.site/

Avoca is a delightful little chocolate shop that makes their own ice cream.  It’s also in a seriously unfortunate location — it’s in Greektown right off the Danforth, but it’s far enough off the main stretch that you wouldn’t know it’s there unless you’re looking for it.  It’s a bit hidden.

It’s a shame; I think more people would be talking about this place if it were in a better location.  I’m not sure about the chocolates, but the ice cream is top notch.

Avoca

I tried a scoop of the classic chocolate ice cream, and it’s definitely above average.  It was served way too cold (the woman behind the counter was having quite the struggle just getting a scoop), but everything else about it was great — it had a deep chocolately flavour, it wasn’t too sweet, and the ice cream itself was rich and creamy.