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Jul 22, 2008 08:31 AM

Ice cream stuff that's unavailable in Montreal

Coming to visit Toronto next month from Montreal. Looking for ice cream suggestions, that I can't get in Montreal(I've checked many of the significant ice cream threads on this Ontario board, from the past year already, to research before posting). Is there any establishment in the Toronto-area serving home made frozen custard(I'm only aware of it being available in the US)? Can I find malted ice cream anywhere in Toronto? Any ice cream establishment serving excellent soft-serve ice cream(it's typical drek in Montreal)? What about Asian ice cream(either home-made or a very good commercial product)? All these things I can't find in Montreal

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  1. Frozen custard? No. "Good" soft serve might exist, but I have no idea where to find it.

    Places you might try for ice cream include Soma, Dessert Lady, Sunshine's, and Ed's Real Scoop. Good gelato at Hollywood, Solferino, and Il Gelatiere.

    I used to recommend Greg's, but the quality tanked last year.

    I don't know about home made Asian, but T&T has a reasonable selection of commercial brands. The Kulfi at Lahore Tikka House is good. The pistachio, mango, and coconut kulfis made by Tropical Treets are pretty good if you can get them hand packed at the factory on Bermondsey, but their supermarket cartons (and all their other flavours) aren't good.

    6 Replies
    1. re: embee

      Good to know that I can go to Tropical Treets at their factory to get their ice creams hand packed, instead of the stuff they have in stores. Which part of town is Bermondsey? I had Solferino & Hollywood on my list already, for gelato places to try.

      1. re: BLM

        Bermondsey runs south of Eglinton, between the DVP and Victoria Park Ave.

        1. re: BLM

          I forget to add a caveat to that. It is possible to get ice cream hand packed at Tropical Treets, but it isn't guaranteed. Some staff at the counter will do it. It costs a bit extra, but you get much more ice cream solids in the pack. However, I have sometimes been refused. It seems to depend on who is working at the time. Sorry for this kind of important omission :-(

          I also need to add that I had coconut and chocolate sorbet at Soma today and found it really disappointing - it was too cold, lumpy, and watery. Whoops.

          1. re: embee

            Thanks, for these additional info. For the soft-serve, I would be satisfied if the soft-serve ice cream is stiff. I find just about every soft-serve I've tried in Montreal(I could only think of maybe one exception), their ice cream is way too soft.

        2. re: embee

          Another goof. Not a good day. There's no "Sunshines". The place is called Summers, and it's in Yorkville. Sorry.

          1. re: embee

            OK I saw it, but haven't tried it (yet). But I did go to Pusateri's. Just awful. One of the worst in town!

        3. Also highly recommend Il Gelatiere - best gelato I've had in TO. I like the flavours at Tropical Treets but when I bought a cone from the factory the ice cream was quite crystalized.

          On a separate note, have you tried the ice cream (soft serve or otherwise) at Chocomax on Decarie? I haven't tried the soft serve but the other flavours are quite good albeit a little sweet.

          3 Replies
          1. re: fortheloveoffood

            Yes, I believe I've tried the soft serve at Chocomax in VSL(they only serve it in the spring & summer if I remember correctly). It didn't stand out, but willing to give it another try. I don't remember them serving any other type of ice cream.

            Upon closer inspection, I also had Il Gelatiere on my list. Of the 3 gelato places, I had Solferina as first priority, followed by Hollywood, then Il Gelatiere. IYO, who makes the best gelato in Toronto?

            1. re: BLM

              Have you researched Kensington Organic Ice Cream as yet? They experiment with flavours like Masala Chai and Ginger. Interesting stuff. They're located in the Queen and Palmerston area.

              1. re: currycue

                Kensington has been hyped from day one. Although the flavours always sounded interesting, I was always disappointed with the actual ice cream. I found it gritty, unevenly frozen, and truly amateurish (not in a good way). It is now manufactured in a major ice cream plant using professional equipment. However, I tried a couple of flavours (bought at the Big carrot) and still wasn't impressed.

          2. The Curry and Roti Restaurant I mentioned on another thread makes their own coconut custard/pineapple custard and mango custard ice cream. They're at

            The Curry & Roti Restaurant
            1732 Lawrence Avenue East
            Scarborough, Ontario M1R 2Y1

            Tropical Treets has some great ice creams and kulfis. I'm a fan of the rosewater ice cream as well as their grape nut version.

            The homemade pistachio and mango kulfis at Lahore Tikka House in Little India are pretty fine as well.

            1. My comprehensive attempt to reply seems to have disappeared, so I probably hit a wrong key (as my Gelato Fresco post seems to have survived) so I’ll try and post the main points again.
              First, as you have Les Havres Aux Glaces at Jean-Talon market, there doesn’t seem much point in recommending places that don’t approach that!
              Certainly we don’t have any Frozen custards (or similar) – although I haven’t been impressed with those I’ve tried in US anyway – they all remind me of Dairy Queen (which I also don’t like), although there are some outlets between Niagara Falls and Buffalo in New York State (not too far if your travels will take you to Niagara Falls anyway). Similarly haven’t seen malted anywhere recently, nor can I recommend any soft-serve, although some of the frozen yoghurt places do something similar.
              Certainly, last year, Solferino and Il Gelatière were the standouts. And I thought both exceeded Les Havres Aux Glaces. Very well-made and pure flavours. However Il Gelatière has slipped a bit this year (and raised prices). But the service has improved. My standard ‘test flavours’ are lemon gelato and pear and the Il Gelatière Pear was awful this year – a very strange texture and muted pear flavour (to be fair, their passion fruit was superb). But both Il Gelatière and Solferino are less sweet than Les Havres Aux Glaces – so be prepared for that.
              Beware of Tropikal Treet! They use inferior ingredients (IMO) – in particular their ‘milk products’ are powdered, giving a disappointing mouth feel. Also, even at their factory outlet, the bulk products are pre-packed (i.e. same as their retail product) – they don’t handpack from the tubs– and in my experience won’t do that either (at least they wouldn’t for me) – they insist you get the packages from their freezer. They do (theoretically) have a wide selection, but not all flavours are available at any time. IIRC about 16 last time I went (which is still more than most places). I’ve tried about a half-dozen and found all to have the powdery texture and the flavours to be ‘sweet’ rather than pure. Also note that if you ignore my dissing this place that it’s a LONG way south of Eglinton – certainly a 10-15 minute walk.
              Hollywood isn’t really ‘gelato’ – more of an ice-cream parlour. I find their products overly sweet, tasting of sugar rather than fruit (or advertised ingredient). They also feature many items which contain ‘chunks’ of e.g. candy – it reminds me of children’s flavours rather than adult – but in their defence they are the best of the ‘kiddie’ flavours and their prices are very competitive (about half of Il Gelatière which is only a couple of blocks away).
              One standout that should be tried is Greg’s Roasted Marshmallow. This is by far their best flavour – the rest are just not worth it. To me it hasn’t declined at all.
              Kensington Ice Cream is just not well-made (at least it wasn’t last year and I haven’t been back). Three separate samples were crystallized at the bottom, suggesting melting and re-freezing.
              I haven’t found anything at a restaurant (that I liked) that wasn’t made by Gelato Fresco (they supply many restaurants) – but, to be fair, haven’t tried the ices at either Lahore Tikka House (possibly my least favourite Pakistani resto in Toronto for many reasons) or Curry & Roti (never been). There have been some Saffron ice-creams around at Persian places but I haven’t found a stellar one.
              Others mentioned:
              Soma – good chocolate but you can get equivalent or better at Gelato Fresco
              Dessert Lady – don’t recommend. Has never even had half the flavours advertised and poorly made (chunks of ice).
              Sushine; new to me; haven’t tried.
              Ed’s real Scoop – best in neighbourhood, but not up to Hollywood standard. Tends to be ‘sticky’ in texture – I think they use a stabilizer that thickens artificially.

              So, to sum up. You probably have already selected the best routing (although I always check the Gelato Fresco outlet – I’ll try to list what they have next time I go). Solferino is consistent but has a smaller selection than Il Gelatière. And I do have one other “guilty pleasure” and that’s Dessert Trends (now renamed DT Bistro Patisserie). I don’t know where they get their ice-creams/gelato but they have superb flavors. The gelato itself is not the ‘smoothest’ – it has an uneven texture but, for me, their flavours are very pure and not always found elsewhere (e.g. pink grapefruit).

              14 Replies
              1. re: estufarian

                Hi estufarian. A few observations.

                I disagree that Hollywood isn't really "gelato". While they do, indeed, have those kiddie flavours, their "adult" flavours are among the best. I've also noted that some flavours are decidedly less sweet now than they were in past years. I think their Valhrona chocolate, roasted almond, Sicilian pistachio, and lemon flavours are great.

                As per my earlier posts, Tropical Treets is a crapshoot. Sometimes they will hand pack from the tubs; sometimes they refuse. Other than the coconut, mango, and pistachio, all of their flavours I've tasted were awful. To be fair, I did not try the grape nut or rosewater mentioned in another post. Their machine filled cartons now have too much air and I agree you can taste "milk ingredients". They have lowered their product quality and made it sweeter over the over the past few years. Their kulfis used to win awards. Still, the coconut and pistachio flavours are quite unique.

                The Greg's prepacks sold at All the Best contain so much air that I thought they weren't full. This wasn't true in past years and was a shocking letdown. Yes, Greg's roasted marshmallow has been a standout, not successfully duplicated by anyone.

                I've had good Gelato Fresco flavours, most apparently custom made, at restaurants. With two surprising exceptions (Devil's Chocolate and 0BF Chocolate) I've never been impressed by their packaged flavours, some of which are boring and some of which (pink marshmallow in particular) are revolting. I've never managed to score anything interesting at their factory :-(

                Lahori kulfi is definitely for takeout only!

                Too bad about Dessert Lady. I had some great ice creams there last June (07), but haven't been there this year.

                There is no Sunshine's. It's called Summer's.

                I withdraw my recommendation of Soma.

                I agree with your other comments.

                1. re: embee

                  I'm a fan of both you so just an observation or two -

                  embee - I love how you separate your paragraphs -- easy to read!

                  estufarian - just a tip from my experience of losing posts (not as long as yours) -- I find that if you're going to invest a lot of time and effort into an extensive post, type it out in a word doc first. That way if it gets lost, you can just copy and paste again.

                  Also -- Not an experienced ice cream/gelato consumer due to concerns about weight and health but appreciate all these comments. I've been meaning to get to the Mount Pleasant spots for quite a while but I work just down the street from Xococava so, even though it has basic flavours, it may be a good introduction to the world of "artisanal ice cream" for me.

                  1. re: embee

                    Fair enough. I expected some flack on some of my opinions. NOTE: I did "sort of" recommend Hollywood. I have tried their lemon recently - much too sweet (for me) and also 'frozen' - much harder than competitors (possibly more water - or just watery lemons). Haven't tried their chocolate (Believe it or not I'm not a chocolate fan) and I don't like anyones pistachio (I have an issue with the texture - don't even like gelato Fresco's). That also means I haven't tried Tropical Treets pistachio.
                    On Gelato Fresco, I agree their pink marshmallow is their worst product (I've also mentioned that on other threads). Packaged flavours are always problematic with any producer. The issue is that commercial freezers don't have the 'right' temperature for ice-cream/gelato and the compromises lead to lower quality. A few years back I did a 'blind' tasting of most of the supermarket brands of vanilla and the best I found was Gelato Fresco's Tahitian Vanilla - which they promptly discontinued - apparently consumers preferred the Madagascar Vanilla version (I based my evaluation on taste - not appearance and the Tahitian has black flecks in it which aren't visually appealing). Hence my reliance on their 'factory' outlet. Recently, my favourites have been Sour Cream with Lemon Peel, Creme Caramel, (note- both ice-creams not gelato) Sicilian Lemon With Peel, and Blood Orange - but I think all are currently out-of-stock.
                    And I have a weakness for any new flavour - a garlic/vanilla recently was pretty good (but what do you serve it with) - and my favourite all-time was probably 'Bloody Mary'.
                    And, of course, the best (consistently) in supermarkets is Haagen-Dazs. They really do an amazing job. If only they had more flavours (in particular the bitter caramel that was everywhere in Japan on my recent trip).

                    1. re: estufarian

                      Haagen Dazs makes dozens and dozens of flavours. Not surprisingly, many aren't all that good, but others are absolutely brilliant. Sadly, the lords of Haagen Dazs (I believe it's Pillsbury these days) seem to have decreed that we Canadians can't have them, though most of the world isn't denied the pleasure. I don't get it.

                      When they finally introduced their line to Canada in the mid eighties, we got only their most popular flavours: vanilla, chocolate, coffee, strawberry, rum raisin, and boysenberry. It stayed that way for years, even though we didn't seem to understand that we were supposed to like boysenberry and rum raisin (which never sold well here).

                      They finally dropped the two non sellers and expanded the line slightly, but we still see very few flavours and most of those they do introduce here are either violently sweet or low fat.

                      Ben & Jerry's (now, I believe, Unilever) does much the same thing. I know there is some issue with milk marketing boards having a say over ice cream imports, but there is plenty of ice cream plant capacity available right here.

                      You obviously have better luck than I with that Gelato Fresco outlet. I try to go there whenever I'm in the area (admittedly not that often), and am almost always disappointed with what (if anything) is available.

                      1. re: embee

                        As you rightly say, the issue is the Dairy Boards. we can't currently import foreign LIQUID milk products and the price here is significantly higher for liquids than a competitive market would probably attain. And it's only relatively recently that Ontario has allowed imports from other Provinces (which they were forced to do by a court case, which ironically occurred because Ontario chickens & eggs weren't allowed into Quebec). So low cost producers import 'milk products' which aren't prohibited..... yet!
                        Haagen Dazs, in Canada is produced under licence. That's a bizarre set-up and seems to keep changing. The owners 'outsource' the brand but 'outsource' the stores to a different licencee. I haven't found a H-D store so am not sure whether the 'branded' stores even serve the same product. But despite all this, I'm really impressed with their product (again in blind tastings) which always shows well.

                        As for Gelato Fresco - I used to work just down the street so was able to pop in regularly (have even ordered some of their 'restaurant' flavours in bulk - shared with friends). Indeed it's a question of striking it lucky. Only 2 'finds' in the past month. I'll post if I find anything interesting.

                        1. re: embee

                          In the States, I'm able to eat Haagen Dazs, as well as Ben & Jerry's, whereas in Canada I can't (may contain traces of peanuts/nuts in Canada, no such thing on the American ones unless they actually contain nuts.) I can also eat them in Japan.

                        2. re: estufarian

                          Got a opinion of Mapleton's Organic Ice Cream, available at some locations in the GTA-area?

                          1. re: BLM

                            Other than being certified organic, it's pretty ordinary ice cream - not wonderful, not bad.

                        3. re: embee

                          Which of the very good ice cream establishments in Toronto, also make milkshakes, using their own ice cream? Any offer a very good chocolate sorbet(most ice cream establishments make chocolate ice cream, but don't make a chocolate sorbet version)? I have found ice cream establishments in Montreal making it, but very hard to find.

                          1. re: BLM

                            Ed's Real Scoop makes milkshakes with their own ice cream. Very good, though not a life changing experience. Ditto a couple of B&J scoop shops. South Street, a crappy burger chain, makes very good milkshakes (the ice cream isn't their own).

                            Soma makes chocolate sorbet, but I was very disappointed earlier this week. They don't do milkshakes.

                        4. re: estufarian

                          Thanks for your detailed report. Either Il Gelatiere or Solferino would seem to be worthwhile for me to try for my upcoming Toronto trip as both are gelato products(Les Havres Aux Glaces & other artisanal Montreal artisanal places offer ice cream(as opposed to Italian gelato) & sorbets). The best known Montreal gelato establishment, makes their gelato from a commercial mix).

                          What flavours do you recommend at Solferino?

                          1. re: BLM

                            At Solferino, I like the fruit flavours. Citric in particular. They recently had a good grapefruit, but their lemon was just "OK" not bad - but not the best either.

                            1. re: estufarian

                              Went back yesterday to Solferino and again the lemon was "just OK". A lttle sweeter than I remember and lacking the 'bite' of acidity. The texture was very smooth - almost over-processed as I prefer a hint of lemon pith in the gelato to add "interest". However, on the plus side, they seem to have expanded their selection - over 20 flavours in stock (of about 35 listed as 'possible'). I also noted that the 'cup' serving seemed larger than the 'cone' serving (for the same price).

                        5. Anyone try the ice cream/gelato at Xococava yet? That's the "candy store" that Cava's Chris McDonald just opened next to his restaurant.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: JamieK

                            Yes, gave it a whirl.
                            A very limited selection - maybe 8 flavurs total. Cones/cups are expensive but the packed half-litres are a good deal.
                            EXCEPT I didn't really fancy any of the flavours - just too 'ordinary'. And the chocolates (at $2) each made it expensive to just try nibbling. So this jury (of 1) is still out.

                            1. re: JamieK

                              The flavours are simple but the ice cream is made with excellent ingredients, so the quality is high. I sampled the pistachio and strawberry. Pistachio is made with I believe imported Italian (?) pistachios and they had made it so the nuts were finely ground to give the ice cream a nice texture, rather than just smooth with bits of pistachios. They are constantly tinkering with the recipes and the last time I sampled it, the texture wasn't as "gritty" but smoother with a bit of texture.

                              The strawberry was made with fresh Ontario strawberries and their own house made sour cream (I think) which made it lighter than regualr ice cream.

                              Prices are $4 (S) $5.25 (M) $6.50 (L) but the 1/2 litre is a better deal at $7.95