Shockingly Tasty Plant-Based Ice Cream at Honey’s

Honey'sLocation: 1448 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Website: https://honeysicecream.ca/

I’ll admit that I tried Honey’s — a dessert shop that specializes in “premium plant-based ice creams” — more for the novelty value than anything else.  I mean, isn’t plant-based ice cream an oxymoron?  That can’t possibly be good, right?  Right…?

Wrong, it turns out.  And I’ve never been so delighted to be wrong.

Honey's

They have about a dozen flavours to choose from; I went with peanut butter & saltine, and I was shocked at how good it was.  The consistency was probably a bit thinner than traditional ice cream, but if you just handed it to me without context, I don’t think I would have guessed that it’s dairy-free.

It’s rich, creamy, and intensely peanut buttery, with nice pops of flavour from the saltines; their texture has been transformed into something almost cakey, and they work perfectly with the peanut butter ice cream (“ice cream”?  Should that be in quotes?).

Honey's

I’m very curious to come back and try some other flavours, because how is ice cream without cream this good?  Has my whole life been a lie??

A Sandwich with Issues at Parka Food Co.

Parka Food Co.Location: 424 Queen Street West, Toronto
Website: https://www.parkafoodco.com/

I don’t know what it is about “plant-based” restaurants serving sandwiches with overly dense buns, but I had that issue at Planta, I had it at Fresh, and now it’s happened again at Parka Food Co.

Is it the plant-based thing?  The lack of dairy?  Or is it a coincidence I’m reading too much into?  I don’t know.

(Also, whichever marketer came up with the term “plant-based” to make veganism sound more hip and healthy: kudos to you.  You have succeeded beyond your wildest dreams.)

Parka Food Co.

I tried the broccoli sandwich at Parka Food Co., which comes with “lightly battered broccoli, cashew cheese sauce, dill pickles, sauteed onions, roasted garlic, lettuce, parka aioli,” and it was mostly decent enough — but then there was that bun.

It’s all about Newton’s third law of motion: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  The bun is so firm and dense that the force of you holding it and biting into it has nowhere to go but down into the components of the sandwich.  A normal bun would absorb some of that force, but not this one.

Instead, everything gets squished out within a couple of bites.  I had to eat the sandwich with a fork and knife.  It’s not a big deal, but I kinda wanted to eat my sandwich like a sandwich.

Parka Food Co.

Aside from that, it wasn’t bad.  The broccoli has a nice crispy, battered exterior, and the inside is perfectly cooked — it’s tender but not mushy, with a satisfying bite.

The cashew “cheese” sauce is basically just a thick, gooey paste, without a whole lot of cheese-like properties.  But it’s fine on the sandwich.

And the sweet aioli and the pickles do a nice job of cutting through the richness of the fried broccoli and the “cheese.”  It’s a pretty good sandwich… or at least it would be if you could eat it like a sandwich.

Fake Butter Chicken at TVX: The Vegan Extremist

The Vegan ExtremistLocation: 291 Augusta Avenue, Toronto
Website: https://www.facebook.com/TheVeganExtremist/

Is it still butter chicken if it doesn’t have butter or chicken?  That’s the question at TVX, a vegan joint in Kensington Market that serves what it calls “plant-based South Asian cuisine.”

Mostly, they serve a variety of vegan curries that come with rice and paratha roti.  One of those curries is the aforementioned butter-and-chickenless butter chicken, which subs in fried cauliflower for chicken.

The Vegan Extremist

So is it still butter chicken?  Not really.  But is it tasty?  Definitely.

It doesn’t taste quite like any butter chicken I’ve had before — the sauce is tangier and less creamy — but for what it is, it’s quite good.  It’s garlicky, very spicy (you can choose your heat level — I went with the spiciest, and it wasn’t kidding around) and surprisingly satisfying.

The Vegan Extremist

The fried cauliflower works really well — it’s battered and fried, with a nice crunchy exterior and a meaty interior.  It doesn’t even vaguely resemble the chicken in a traditional butter chicken, but the hearty crunch stands up nicely to the sauce, and it’s delicious regardless.

The paratha roti was also untraditional but tasty.  It’s thicker and more substantial than any paratha roti I’ve had before, but it still had that satisfying combo of crispy, greasy exterior and chewy interior that you’re looking for.

Nine Layer Burrito at Fresh

FreshLocation: 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Toronto
Website: https://freshplantpowered.com/

Fresh, a chain that specializes in vegan eats, is fine.  I recently had their “burger” and thought it was fine (though it obviously bore no resemblance to an actual hamburger).  I just tried the Nine Layer Burrito, and yeah — it’s fine.

It’s definitely crammed with a lot of stuff: “mushroom & artichoke chorizo, marinated black beans, pico de gallo, cashew queso, jalapeno crema, avocado, shredded lettuce, brown rice, pickled jalapenos.”

Fresh

It’s…  fine.  It’s not as good as a burrito from any decent burrito place, but if you find yourself at Fresh, I’m sure you could do worse.

There’s a whole bunch of stuff in there, and it tastes like there’s a whole bunch of stuff in there.  It doesn’t have a ton of cohesion, but it’s tasty enough for what it is.

I was kinda curious about the  faux “chorizo”, but of course, it’s hard to pick out any one element with all of the flavours that are going on here.  So I tried some on its own; it basically just tastes like funky pureed mushrooms, with absolutely no resemblance to chorizo.

Fresh

The only element of the burrito I found overtly unappealing was the whole wheat tortilla.  I like whole wheat bread as much as the next guy, but it’s just wrong on a burrito.  It calls attention to itself and tastes off.

I also tried the salad with house vinaigrette.  The vinaigrette seemed like it might have been okay, but it was applied so sparingly you could barely taste it.  The “salad” basically tasted like undressed greens.

Surprisingly Tasty Vegan Cinnamon Rolls at Cinnaholic

CinnaholicLocation: 319 Danforth Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.cinnaholic.ca/

The cinnamon roll from Cinnaholic is shockingly good.  Not that it’s the best cinnamon roll I’ve ever had, but it’s vegan.  You’re bracing for the worst when you hear that a traditionally dairy-heavy dessert has been made vegan.  How could that possibly end well?

Cinnaholic, somehow, pulls it off.

Cinnaholic

It’s an interesting set-up; they have a few dozen different frosting and topping choices (if there’s a dessert topping you can think of, they probably offer it here).  I wanted to see what the deal was with the roll itself, so I went as simple as possible with the “Classic Old Skool Roll,” which is topped only with vanilla frosting.

Cinnaholic

I won’t lie: I was expecting it to be dense and dry and weird, but it was pleasantly light and fluffy, with a nice cinnamon flavour and a great level of sweetness.  It’s very, very sweet, but it’s not quite the throat-burning assault of sugar that you’ll get with something like Cinnabon.

The frosting is quite tasty, too — it’s rich and creamy, but also incredibly soft and light.  I have no idea how they achieve that texture without dairy (I’m assuming margarine is involved), but whatever it is, it tastes pretty darn good.

Cinnaholic

That’s the surprising thing about it.  Yes, it’s vegan, but it’s not good for a vegan dessert; it’s good, period.