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.
Stush Patties are available frozen at various supermarkets throughout the GTA (you can see where on their website), but alas, they don’t have a permanent location where you can buy their patties hot.
They were recently set up for the weekend at the Cheese Boutique, and I can say pretty conclusively that they need to open their own place ASAP. They’re top notch patties.
They had five types of patties on offer: beef, jerk chicken, jerk pulled pork, spicy lentil, and swiss chard. They’re five bucks a pop (or slightly cheaper if you buy them frozen), which seems pricey, but you get what you pay for.
I went with the pulled pork, which features a whole bunch of tender pork with a delightful punch of tasty jerk flavour. It’s meaty and very nicely spiced, with a pleasant kick and a mild sweetness that rounds things out.
The pastry is quite good too; it’s rich and flaky without being overwhelming. Some patties overdo the pastry and skimp on the filling, but this one is just right.
Location: 65 Front Street West, Toronto (inside Union Station)
It’s been a while since I’ve had a sandwich from Toronto Life’s list of the 25 best in the city, but clearly, the list is still cranking out the hits. The jerk chicken sandwich at Roywoods is good eatin’.
It’s quite simple: cocoa bread, jerk chicken, coleslaw, sliced tomato, and onion (I skipped the onion, because raw onions are the worst and why anyone thinks differently will forever baffle me).
You can’t really tell from the picture, but the jerk chicken is abundant, and it’s perfectly cooked. I wish it were a bit spicier (it has a mild kick, but not much more than that) but the satisfying jerk flavour makes up for the lack of spice.
The only real issue is the slightly stale cocoa bread, but there was so much moisture from the saucy coleslaw and the juicy chicken that the dryness of the bread was just barely an issue. Eating it is definitely a multiple napkin experience.
I tried a couple of sides as well. The fried plantains had a nice combo of crispy and creamy, and the callaloo — featuring flavourful, tender greens — was just as good.
Location: 61 Kensington Avenue, Toronto
Rasta Pasta serves, as the name implies, a fusion of Caribbean and Italian cuisine. It’s a bizarre amalgamation of flavours, but they’ve been a Kensington Market hotspot for years, so they’re obviously doing something right.
Their pasta wasn’t available when I visited, so I kept it simple and ordered the jerk chicken sandwich, dubbed the Vatican.
The sandwich consists of saucy jerk chicken and coleslaw in a soft roll that’s nicely crispified thanks to a panini press. It’s quite good.
However, despite the presence of a functioning grill at the front of the restaurant, the chicken tastes more braised than grilled. It’s extremely tender, and the jerk sauce is flavour-packed and mildly spicy, but the crispy exterior and smoky flavour that you expect from jerk chicken is completely absent.
And yet it’s so tasty that it isn’t particularly an issue. The sweet coleslaw complements the savoury chicken really well, and the crispy roll is the perfect vehicle. It’s a very satisfying sandwich.