A Pleasant Surprise at Sweet Jesus

Sweet JesusLocation: 25 The West Mall, Etobicoke (inside Sherway Gardens)
Websitehttp://www.sweetjesus4life.com/

I mentioned recently that I like Sweet Jesus, but that it looks better than it tastes.  Well, I think that the abysmal soft serve at Kiss the Tiramisu and Loukomania Cafe have completely readjusted the way that I evaluate soft serve.  They were a very visceral reminder that bad soft serve can be really bad.

Suddenly, Sweet Jesus is looking pretty good.  Because I just went to their location in Sherway Gardens, and I quite enjoyed it.

Sweet Jesus

I got the Oh Hungry, which is similar to the flavour I got last time — vanilla ice cream, caramel and peanut butter sauces, peanuts, chocolate chips, and a chocolate drizzle.

It was shockingly delicious.  All of the sauces, nuts, and chocolate went really well together  (true to its name, it tasted similar to an Oh Henry bar), and there seemed to be a better ratio of toppings to ice cream.  Plus, the vanilla ice cream was rich and creamy.  It still didn’t have much of a flavour beyond a general sweetness, but it wasn’t overly cloying and the texture was on point.

I don’t know if the quality has gone up or if my expectations have gone down, but either way, it was good stuff.

Mediocre Ice Cream at Emmy’s Ice Cream

Emmy's Ice CreamLocation: 426 St. Clarens Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttp://emmys-ice-cream.business.site/

I love ice cream (and I mean, who doesn’t?).  I’m always on the lookout for the next great scoop.

I’m not going to bury the lede — Emmy’s does not serve the next great scoop.

It’s fine.  There wasn’t anything glaringly wrong with it.  But the quality is more in line with something you might get from the supermarket with the words “Nestle” or “President’s Choice” on the label.

Emmy's Ice Cream

It’s in a bit of an odd location; it’s basically part of a coffee shop (they have their own sign and door, but once you’re inside, it’s all one store).

They don’t make their own ice cream.  They source it from Dutch Dreams.  I have a vague recollection of going to Dutch Dreams well over a decade ago and not being impressed, but I was hoping that they had improved in the interim.

Alas.  I had the “Life on St. Clarens,” which is vanilla ice cream with a peanut butter swirl, along with brownie chunks and cookie dough.

Emmy's Ice Cream

Nothing about it particularly stood out.  Though the ice cream was somewhat rich, the flavour was just generic sweetness.  The same lack of flavour extended to the chunks — the brownie was just chewy and sweet, and the cookie dough was crumbly and sweet.  Nothing makes an impact.

Given the fairly unambitious array of flavours they have on offer, I suspect that they’re trying to be more of a stop for local kids than somewhere you might go out of your way for.  Which is fine.  But… don’t go out of your way for it.

Instagram-Friendly Ice Cream at Sweet Jesus

Sweet JesusLocation: 106 John Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.sweetjesus4life.com/

I don’t think there’s a more blatant case of an Instagram-famous restaurant than Sweet Jesus.  They serve up concoctions that are so finely-honed to be drooled over on social media that actually eating them almost feels like an afterthought.

They mainly serve very elaborately topped cones that are impossible to eat without making a huge mess; but then, what do they care?  Again: actually eating them is secondary to the likes that they’ll accrue online.

Thankfully, they eventually acquiesced to common sense and offered the option of a cup instead of a cone, which is slightly less photogenic, but much more reasonable to eat.

I got the Sweet Baby Jesus, which is supposed to come with caramel soft serve (I’m pretty positive it was actually vanilla) topped with peanut butter caramel sauce, chocolate peanut crumble, and chocolate sauce.

Sweet Jesus

I should note that I actually like Sweet Jesus.  I’ve been there a bunch of times, and I have no doubt that I’ll be back a bunch of times.  But it could be so much better.

The biggest issue is the soft serve itself.  It’s fine; it’s basically on par with what they serve at ice cream trucks.  I like the stuff, but it’s not exactly high quality ice cream.

And because they insist on making these things as cones instead of the sundaes they should obviously be (for no reason other than that the elaborate cones look better on Instagram), the ratio of sauce/toppings to ice cream is way off.  This would be fine if they were using better quality ice cream, but they’re not.  Which means that the big pile of ice cream you’re left with after the toppings have been eaten feels kinda useless.

As for the Sweet Baby Jesus, it was tasty enough.  Peanut butter and chocolate is a surefire combo, and yeah, it works here.  But both of the problems I mentioned above are definitely present.

Amazing Cupcakes at Prairie Girl Bakery

Prairie Girl BakeryLocation: 150 Bloor Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.prairiegirlbakery.com/

Prairie Girl Bakery might just serve my favourite cupcakes in the city.  There are some other contenders (the Cupcake Shoppe comes to mind), but Prairie Girl is right up there.

Prairie Girl Bakery

I like that they actually have three different sizes — standard, mini, and cutie.  The mini size is absolutely perfect if you’ve just had a big meal and you want something sweet that isn’t going to make you feel completely sick.  It’s still a couple of decent bites’ worth of cupcake, so it’s enough to satisfy, but not so much to make you question the way you’re living your life.

Prairie Girl Bakery

On this particular visit I got the banana peanut butter, which features peanut butter frosting with banana cake.  Not surprisingly, it was great — the cake basically tasted like a lighter, fluffier banana bread.  It had a really distinct banana flavour that worked perfectly with the very creamy peanut butter frosting.

The whole thing was sweet, but with enough of a balance to not be a complete sugar overload.  It’s good stuff.

Another Amazing Flavour at Bang Bang

Bang BangLocation93a Ossington Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttp://bangbangicecream.com/

I’ve already established that Bang Bang continues to be the best.  Further proof?  A flavour called P’nut Butter Cup, which they describe as “Reese candy / mucho peanut butter.”

Mucho peanut butter??  Uh, yes please.

I’m not sure why they call this P’nut Butter Cup — there are actually Reese’s Pieces in there, not peanut butter cups, and that’s what it tastes like (I love Reese’s Pieces, so I’m not complaining).  Though they do also add chunks of chocolate, so I guess that adds a certain amount of peanut-butter-cupiness.

Bang Bang

The ice cream itself is ridiculous.  It’s so rich and peanut buttery — “mucho” definitely isn’t an exaggeration.  It almost tastes like some kind of delicious amalgam between ice cream and peanut butter, like a jar of peanut butter and a pint of ice cream found its way into Jeff Goldblum’s teleportation machine.  It’s incredible.  And the crunchiness of the Reese’s Pieces makes for a great contrast with the dense, smooth ice cream.  It’s pretty much the best.