Quick Bites: Dairy Queen, Uncle Betty’s, Soul Chocolate

Dairy Queen
Pumpkin Pie Blizzard at Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen brings out the pumpkin pie Blizzard once a year, and come on.  Just put it on the regular menu.  It is the king of Blizzards.  It tastes just like a pumpkin pie, but in Blizzard form.  It’s so good.

Uncle Betty's
Sweet Potato Hash at Uncle Betty’s

This is the type of thing I’d normally write a full post about (I haven’t even written about Uncle Betty’s on this blog, though I did try the burger for Tasty Burgers), but honestly?  I don’t want to.  I mean, look at it.  It’s basically just a pile of cubed sweet potatoes with some onions and a little bit of spinach interspersed throughout.  No particular seasoning that I could taste, no caramelization or crispiness… just a bunch of bland sweet potato topped with a couple of poached eggs, and served with a slightly congealed cup of hollandaise on the side.  It tasted as sad as it looks.

Soul Chocolate
Chocolate Shot at Soul Chocolate

I was actually hoping to get the delicious soft serve from Soul Chocolate, but alas, when I went they had just stopped serving it for the season.  I don’t know who came up with the notion that you can only have ice cream in the summer, but that person is a criminal and deserves to go to jail.  So I got the chocolate shot instead, and it’s very good.  It’s not quite on the level of the version they serve at Soma; it’s got an odd sour note that I found a bit off-putting, but is otherwise deeply chocolatey and thoroughly satisfying.

Quick Bites: Tom’s Dairy Freeze, Soma Chocolatemaker, Nani’s Gelato

Tom's Dairy Freeze
Cherry Sundae at Tom’s Dairy Freeze

I mean, come on: if you go the whole summer without going to Tom’s Dairy Freeze at least once, was it really the summer?  I submit that it was not.  It’s certainly not the most exciting ice cream joint in the city, but they’ve been pumping out consistently great no-frills soft serve for decades, and it’s a million times better than the stuff you’ll find at chains like Dairy Queen or McDonald’s.  On this particular visit I got a sundae with chocolate ice cream and cherry sauce, and yeah, that’s a great combo.  The sauce is excessively sweet (it tastes like maraschino cherries in a thick syrup), but then that’s kind of the charm of a place like this.

Soma
Roasted Almond and Sicilian Pistachio at Soma Chocolatemaker

I’ve mentioned before that Soma serves some of the best gelato in the city, and yeah, it’s still top notch.  I recently tried roasted almond and Sicilian pistachio, and both flavours were rich, creamy, and deeply flavourful.

Nani's Gelato
Malai Kulfi and Mango Chocolate Chip at Nani’s

I don’t think I need to spend more time on this blog on the greatness of Nani’s Gelato.  I’ve thoroughly covered that.  So I’ll just say that on a recent visit I tried malai kulfi and mango chocolate chip, and both flavours were unsurprisingly fantastic.  Malai kulfi, in particular, had that perfect Nani’s balance of a unique flavour and amazingly creamy gelato.  As for mango chocolate chip, I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical about the combo of mango and chocolate, and… to be honest, I’m still skeptical.  But the mango ice cream was so delicious that I thoroughly enjoyed it, despite the flavours not working particularly well together.

Decent Gelato with a Fun Gimmick at Solato

SolatoLocation: Stackt Market (28 Bathurst Street, Toronto)
Website: https://www.solato.com/

Solato is a new gelato place in the Stackt Market with a pretty distinctive gimmick — the gelato itself is made on the spot in a process that’s basically like coffee pods, but for ice cream.  It’s very slick.

The menu is relatively limited; when I went, it was just vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut, and a couple of fruity flavours.  You can either get the gelato by itself for six bucks, or pay an extra dollar and get a couple of toppings.

Solato

I went with hazelnut sans-toppings, and the whole process was pretty seamless; they put a pod in one of the machines, and within a couple of minutes it was dispensing soft serve gelato.

It’s fine.  It’s a fun gimmick, I guess, but it’s hard to deny that there’s better gelato in the city.

Solato

I was afraid it might taste artificial, but it has a pretty clean hazelnut flavour, albeit a weak one (the nutty taste is far from robust).  It’s very smooth, which I guess is the advantage of making it right on the spot, but otherwise it’s nothing special; it’s a bit of a shrug, especially for the price, but if you’re in the Stackt Market anyway it might be worth a shot just for the novelty value.

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.