Location: 206C Queen Street South, Streetsville
It’s always a good sign when a bakery puts one of their pastries in a paper bag and it becomes translucent with buttery goodness. If the paper bag looks pristine? Sorry, that pastry probably sucks. I don’t make the rules.
Though they have an assortment of sweet and savoury pastries, the specialty at Kate’s Town Talk Bakery is clearly the butter tart, which you can get with pecans, raisins, raspberry Nutella, or on its own.
I got the pecan variety, and oh man, it’s good. The sign outside says that the butter tarts here “rival the best you’ve ever tasted,” and you know what? They’re not wrong. I wish the filling were a bit gooier, but other than that it’s basically butter tart perfection: the crust is perfectly flaky, the filling has a great toffee-like flavour, and it’s got those great crispy caramelized edges that are pretty much irresistible.
I’m not sure that it’s the best best butter tart that I’ve ever had, but it’s right up there, that’s for sure.
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.
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.
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.
Location: 755 Queensway East, Mississauga
My first time hearing about La Casa Dolce, an Italian bakery in Mississauga that specializes in desserts, was when I recently saw a photo of the Pumpkin Butter Tart on Instagram.
Obviously, I felt an immediate and overwhelming urge to eat it ASAP. Why? Look at it, that’s why.
Butter tarts are delicious. Pumpkin pies are delicious. Surely when you cram the two desserts together, you must end up with something magical. Right…?
Well, maybe not.
It’s certainly not bad; it’s one of those things that would be very difficult to completely mess up. But the one-note sweet butter tart is nothing special, and it completely overwhelms the comparatively subtle pumpkin pie filling.
The crust is the weakest part — it’s soft, doughy, and bland. The tart is mostly inoffensively tasty, but that crust does its best to bring the whole thing down. It definitely makes me wary to go back and try some of La Casa Dolce’s other baked goods.
Oh, and that stuff on top that looks like cream? It’s actually Cool Whip or something similar. It’s not great.
Location: 1800 Sheppard Avenue East, North York (inside Fairview Mall)
It’s hard to go wrong with a Japanese cheese tart. It’s basically just a little cheesecake, and it’s delicious. If you’re a cheesecake fan, there’s absolutely no reason cheese tarts shouldn’t be in your life.
The version they sell at Pablo might not be the best one I’ve ever had, but it’s pretty darn tasty.
The filling is sweet but not too sweet, with a rich cheesecake flavour. I wish it had been a bit creamier, but it’s quite good.
The crust could have been a bit more crisp, but again, it’s very good: it’s nice and buttery, with an almost shortbread-like flavour. The crispy crust and the creamy cheesecake is a fairly irresistible combo.
Location: 1285 Elgin Mills Road East, Richmond Hill
Is key lime pie the king of pies? It might be! The contrast between the tart filling, the sweet graham cracker crust, and the creamy topping is absolutely magical when done well. I have a hard time saying no when I see it on a menu.
And La Rocca Creative Kitchen — which serves the type of little pastries that look so nice it’s almost a shame to eat them — makes a really good one.
It’s a little bit untraditional. The typical whipped cream topping is subbed out for creamy Italian meringue, and the crust is made from speculoos cookies instead of graham cracker.
It’s great. Sometimes a key lime pie’s crust can be too substantial or dry, but this had the perfect level of crunch without getting in the way, and the flavour of the speculoos set it apart from the norm.
The dense, creamy Italian meringue might even be better than whipped cream. Certainly, it does a perfect job of balancing out the tart key lime custard.
And the custard was just right — it’s sweet and creamy, with just the right amount of tartness. It’s good stuff.