Three unique ice cream experiences on the Danforth
It’s already pretty easy to find ice cream stores around the Danforth. There’s a Baskin Robbins close to Pape Ave. and Danforth Ave. But every Baskin Robbins is the same; no ambience, almost clinical. If you want something more than ice cream—but still want some ice cream—here are some places that offer an experience with ice cream on the side.
Phyllo Cafe (1028 Pape Avenue)
Phyllo Cafe is a family-run affair. The interior muted colours of the interior complement the strip of decorative hexagonal tiles on the floor. The walls, papered with names of cities, suggest a worldliness in this homey space where regulars press cheeks against the café owners’ while gossiping in their native languages. The server behind the counter greets everyone who walks in and assures them that the fresh batch of spinach pie—still emitting wisps of steam—was just pulled out of the oven.
The crepes—both sweet and savoury—are named after celebrities like The Jennifer Aniston, The John Stamos, and The Betty White. Each of these people are, to some degree, Greek—highlighting the Greek foundation of the Phyllo Café and its owners. For an additional $2.50, you can get ice cream with the crepe to create the perfect dessert.
Their ice cream is supplied by Kawartha Lakes and the flavours include—strawberry, chocolate, chocolate and peanut butter, and vanilla. I chose the latter to accompany The Maria Menounos. The crepe isn’t grotesquely filled with Nutella—slicing into it doesn’t splurge excess chocolate onto the plate. The tartness of the delicately-cubed strawberries cut through the decadent chocolate.
Fernando’s Hideaway (785 Danforth Avenue)
A Mexican restaurant is not where you expect to find ice cream treats but Fernando’s Hideaway is an interesting anomaly. The restaurant embodies its Mexican roots from the music to the wall décor of a brown Mexican woman in a sombrero. Fernando’s has even painted its walls the bright colours of Mexico’s flag—it toes the line of garish and might pander to the non-native Mexican gaze. With its history of over 30 years on the Danforth, I’m sure they’re doing something right.
I order the Apple Changa—a riff on the deep-fried chimichanga but in dessert form. Slathered with a sticky peach syrup—the Apple Changa comes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The ice cream is nothing special but is a pleasant contrast with the warm fried dessert burrito.
Demetres (400 Danforth Avenue)
The narrow foyer that leads into Demetres cannot hold a candle to the entirety of a store. It’s like stepping into somewhere between an nineteenth century American colonial home with the terracotta walls and cream white crown moulding, and an eighteenth century mansion.
With dessert names like Moo La La and Sweetcar Named Devour, it’s difficult to decide on what to order. In the end, I went with the Unbrûlévable—dulce & banana ice cream, brûléed banana, butter caramel sauce, and praliné croquant on a bed made of waffles.
The dessert is on a massive white plate with the crunchy pralines scattered all over it–––the scoop of ice cream is the crowning glory. From the beautiful interior space to the pop music that doesn’t let you forget about the present, the experience of Demetres is immersive. My only issue? The ice cream’s texture has exactly that—texture. Biting into it feels a lot like chewing slate, but it still tastes like it can’t be found anywhere else.
Image from flickr—no copyright infringement intended
Ken Geniza is a queer, non-binary Filipino-Canadian writer and editor. Based in Toronto, they currently attend Centennial College’s publishing program. Ken loves fountain pens and their dog, Ibarra.