Quality Soft Serve at Hollywood Cone

Hollywood ConeLocation: 1167 Queen Street West, Toronto
Websitehttp://hollywoodcone.com/

Hollywood Cone is basically a superior version of Sweet Jesus — they have a similar selection of social-media-friendly cones, along with other Instagram-bait creations like elaborate milkshakes topped with entire doughnuts or slices of pie.

The quality of the ice cream itself is a solid upgrade over Sweet Jesus.  And yet the place seems to be struggling to attract customers — go figure.  On this particular day, I was actually intending to get a scoop from Bang Bang, but the line-up was intense, even by their standards.   Meanwhile, Hollywood Cone (which is just a few blocks away) was a ghost town.

Hollywood Cone

I ordered the Salted Caramel Skor (well, technically I ordered something else and they gave me the wrong thing — but I couldn’t be bothered to correct them), which comes topped with Skor bits, salted caramel sauce, and a chocolate drizzle.

It’s not bad at all.  The sauces were middle-of-the-road, but the real attraction here is the ice cream.  It’s super creamy and rich, and it lacks the artificial sweetness that you find in lesser soft serve.  It’s really, really good.

Hollywood Cone

Like at Sweet Jesus, their creations are designed to be Instagram-friendly cones instead of the sundaes they’re clearly meant to be, so the toppings run out pretty quickly.  But unlike at Sweet Jesus, the quality of the ice cream is so good that you don’t particularly mind.

It’s odd that the place isn’t doing better than it is, though the aforementioned service issues don’t help, nor does the fact that the place is weirdly dirty and dark, with an atmosphere that feels more like a dive bar than an ice cream shop.

Tasty Ice Cream at Nadege

Ice Cream by NadegeLocation: 780 Queen Street West, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.nadege-patisserie.com/

Though I feel like the pastries at Nadege have gone a bit downhill since their expansion to multiple locations, I still like the place.  And I can’t say no to their latest addition: ice cream (I can never say no to ice cream.  Never).

They have a small ice cream shop right next to their original Queen Street location, serving classic scooped ice cream (not to be confused with the soft serve they’ve had for a while now).

Ice Cream by Nadege

There’s a bunch of really interesting looking flavours; I went with La Mancha, which is described as “honey, blackberry, saffron, biscuit.”

It’s good, though the ice cream itself is nothing too special.  It’s a bit thin; it’s not nearly as rich or as creamy as it should be.  But the flavour makes up for it.  It’s got a delightfully subtle sweetness, with refreshing swirls of tart blackberry sauce and big cakey chunks.

Ice Cream by Nadege

I wish the blackberry sauce weren’t so icy and that the chunks weren’t so generous (my scoop was something like fifty percent biscuit and fifty percent ice cream), but I still enjoyed it.  I’m keen to go back, if only to try out some of the other flavours; they were almost all really unique.

Tasty Greek Take-out at Agora

AgoraLocation: 921 Queen Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://theagora.ca/

Agora is a delightful little take-out gem from the people behind Mamakas Taverna.  As you might imagine, they serve tasty Greek eats.  The menu’s a bit more interesting than the typical gyro joint, with sandwiches, salads, and more substantial meals like moussaka or roasted chicken.  They have a few stools by the window, but for the most part it’s take-out only.

Agora

I tried the spanakopita, which is a mixture of spinach and feta wrapped in crispy phyllo pastry.  It was one of the better versions of that dish that I’ve had.  The filling was rich and satisfying, with lots of spinach flavour and nice pops of saltiness from the feta.  And the super crackly pastry shell was ridiculously buttery, with about a million paper-thin layers of crispy, crunchy goodness.

Agora

I also sampled the briam, which the woman behind the counter described as a Greek version of ratatouille.  And it was indeed extremely ratatouille-esque, with perfectly-cooked, flavour-packed chunks of zucchini and eggplant, among other vegetables.

Pizza Perfection at Descendant

Descendant Detroit Style PizzaLocation: 1168 Queen Street East, Toronto
Websitehttp://descendantdsp.com/

Is the pizza at Descendant the best in the city?  I don’t know.  It’s not not the best pizza in the city.  It’s a contender, that’s for sure.

It’s so different from the Neopolitan-style pies that you’ll find throughout the GTA that it almost tastes like a completely separate dish.

Descendant serves Detroit-style pizza, which is cooked in a square pan and features a thick, substantial crust that’s delightfully crispy and greasy on the bottom.  It’s kinda like the pan pizza from Pizza Hut, but a million times better.

Descendant Detroit Style Pizza

This was my second time at Descendant; I liked it a lot on my first visit, but I liked it even better this time.  It’s just so satisfying.

The thing that’s so impressive about this place is that the pizza itself is so good that they could easily phone it in with the toppings and just offer the usual suspects.  But a lot of the flavours here are surprisingly bold and interesting, and it all works so well.

Descendant Detroit Style Pizza

Take, for example, the Electric Avenue: “jerk chicken, fresh pineapple, curried lime aioli, green onion, Mama Lil’s Peppers, Diablo’s Fuego hot sauce.”  It’s sweet and spicy, with flavours that are about as far from a traditional pizza as you can get.  But it’s so good.

Descendant Detroit Style Pizza

We also tried the special, which on this visit was the Mexican: “chorizo, pickled peppers, lime-pickled red onion, sour cream, tomato sauce, fresh cilantro.”  This was probably my favourite pizza of the day — but they were all delicious.  The flavours were so well balanced, with the brightness of the pickles balancing out the rich sausage and cheese.

Descendant Detroit Style Pizza

The last pizza was the pepperoni, which was more traditional, but no less delicious.

One of the great things about this style of pizza is that you get such a great contrast between the crispy exterior and the soft interior of the crust.  Plus, there’s a ring of cheese on the edges of the pizza that’s dark and crispy and amazing, and it’s just the best.

Wacky Flavours at Death in Venice Gelato Co.

Death in Venice Gelato Co.Location: 536 Queen Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.deathinvenice.ca/

If you’re looking for an off-kilter scoop of gelato, Death in Venice is the place to go.  With their various flavours featuring ingredients like parsnip, kaffir lime, and lavender, you’d be advised to look elsewhere if you’re hoping for a scoop of plain chocolate or vanilla.

Of course, it’s easy enough to serve oddball flavours as a novelty; it’s not-so-easy to make them actually taste good.

Death in Venice Gelato Co.

I can happily say that Death in Venice absolutely nails the whole “tasting really good” thing.

On this particular visit I tried the pistachio yogurt and baklava, which was outstanding.  It features crispy bits of phyllo pastry, pistachio chunks, and honey, which really nails the baklava flavour.  The yogurt adds a very subtle tartness.  There clearly isn’t enough yogurt here to qualify this as frozen yogurt; there’s just enough to add that flavour without being overly sour.

Death in Venice Gelato Co.

That’s not to mention the lemon zest, which works perfectly with the other elements here.  I think there might have also been ricotta?  I’m not sure.

But you know what I am sure about?  That this was great.  Because it was great.  Aside from the really interesting combination of flavours, the gelato itself was creamy and luxurious.  It’s good stuff.