Mediocre Ice Cream at Cows

Cow's Ice CreamLocation: 44 Queen Street, Niagara on the Lake
Websitehttps://cows.ca/

Cows has been a Niagara on the Lake institution since 1983, so they’re obviously doing something right.  Though in this case, I think the thing they did right was picking a location that’s right in the middle of the main road in a very touristy town.  Because the actual ice cream isn’t that great.

It’s relatively rich and creamy, so it’s certainly very, very far from the worst ice cream I’ve ever had.  But the flavour was a pretty big shrug.

Cow's Ice Cream

I got the Wowie Cowie, which is “vanilla ice cream, English toffee marble, chocolate flakes & moo crunch.”

The vanilla ice cream doesn’t taste like anything but generic sweetness.  There’s nothing there.  Plain ice cream can be amazing — the sweet cream at Ed’s, which doesn’t even have vanilla bean to fall back on, manages to pack in an impressive amount of flavour and depth.  Meanwhile, this tasted like sweet nothing.

Cow's Ice Cream

The “English toffee marble” was even worse, and there’s a lot of it rippled in there.  It didn’t have any of the rich caramel flavour you’d expect from English toffee; it was just thick and sweet, like plain corn syrup.

As for the other elements, the chocolate was fine, and the moo crunch didn’t even seem to be there (I’m not sure what it was supposed to be, but I didn’t notice anything but the caramel and the chocolate).

Quality Ice Cream and Waffles at Wooffles & Cream

Wooffles & CreamLocation: 8360 Kennedy Road, Markham (inside New Kennedy Square Food Court)
Websitehttps://www.facebook.com/woofflesandcream/

Every other ice cream joint in the city now serves Hong Kong-style waffles.  It’s a combo that came out of nowhere and absolutely exploded.  And while I don’t think that Wooffles & Cream were the first to do it in the GTA (pretty sure Bang Bang got there first), they certainly helped popularize it.

It’s still great.  They have a few different flavours of waffle that you can try; I went with the sticky toffee pudding, which is a standard waffle filled with sweet cakey chunks of the aforementioned dessert.

Wooffles & Cream

The waffle itself was as delicious as ever, with a nice crispy exterior and a creamy interior.  The bits of sticky toffee pudding were quite tasty, though they were dryer than you’d like, and not quite as sticky and sweet as you might hope from that particular dessert.

Wooffles & Cream

There were also a few chewy mochi bits interspersed throughout, which were an interesting addition.

The ice cream itself (I got vanilla — earl gray was also an option) was nothing special, but the quality is decent and it’s certainly an addictive combo with the waffle.

Decent Dipped Cones at Chocolats Favoris

Chocolats FavorisLocation: 1440 Major MacKenzie Drive West, Vaughan
Websitehttps://www.chocolatsfavoris.com/

If you want a dipped cone in the Toronto area, you’re covered.  Aside from Chocolats Favoris (which hasn’t expanded to the city quite yet), you’ve got relatively new places like Sweet Jesus, La Diperie, and Hollywood Cone, not to mention old standbys like Tom’s Dairy Freeze and the always-reliable Dairy Queen.

Note to all future restaurateurs: we’re all good for dipped cones.  May I suggest you open a frozen custard joint?  Or maybe a traditional sundae shop?

Chocolats Favoris

Chocolats Favoris (which is a Quebecois import, as you might infer from the name) sells dipped cones with a particular emphasis on the chocolatey dips; they’ve got about a dozen you can choose from, which you can either have as a plain dip, or in one of their customized combinations.

I went with the latter, and got the Hazelnut Praline, featuring vanilla ice cream with a chocolate hazelnut dip, hazelnut pieces, and dark chocolate sauce.  It’s garnished with a Ferrero Rocher-esque confection.

Chocolats Favoris

The chocolate hazelnut dip was quite tasty, which is good because there was a lot of it.  I don’t know if there’s always that much or if the woman behind the counter was just feeling generous, but the sauce layer was about a centimetre thick.

It basically tasted like a slightly sweeter, less hazelnutty version of Nutella.  The texture was interesting; it didn’t get quite as crackily as your typical chocolate dip (it might have been laid on too thick to properly harden).  It was fudgy and chewy, which actually worked quite well.  It’s basically vanilla ice cream with a bunch of Nutella mounded on top.  It’s hard to go wrong there.

As for the ice cream itself, it was fine.  It was about on par with what they’re serving at Sweet Jesus, which is to say that it was tasty, but nothing special.

Delightful Soft Serve at Tom’s Dairy Freeze

Tom's Dairy FreezeLocation: 630 The Queensway, Etobicoke
Websitehttp://www.tomsdairyfreeze.ca/

If you’re looking for soft serve ice cream in Toronto, you can’t go wrong with Tom’s.  It’s been a summertime institution since 1969 and, shockingly enough, still sells some of the best soft serve in the city.

In a city where so many old-school restaurants skate by on nostalgia alone (I’m thinking of vintage burger joints like Johnny’s and Apache), I tend to approach years-old restaurants with a healthy dose of skepticism.  Toronto’s food scene has improved astronomically over the decades, and a place like Johnny’s (which routinely used to top “best burger in the city” lists despite serving awful pre-fab junk) is a palpable reminder of how far we’ve come.

Tom's Dairy Freeze

Tom’s Dairy Freeze, however, is a delightful exception to this rule; the soft serve here is top-shelf stuff.

On this particular visit I went simple with vanilla ice cream and a chocolate dip.  The dip is nothing special, but the ice cream is phenomenal.  It’s rich, creamy, and has a really satisfying vanilla flavour.  Anyone who wants to sell soft serve in the city should be forced to come here and take notes.

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.