Toronto, ON – Boreal Gelato Cafe

Restaurant: Boreal Gelato Cafe
Last Visited: 
March 3, 2013
Toronto, ON (Parkdale)
1312 Queen St West
Transit: Queen St West at Gwynne Ave West Side
Phone: (647) 352-7717
Price Range: $10 or less

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6FMF Must Try!

Food: n/a (only tried one thing)
Service: 2.5
Ambiance: 2.5
Value: n/a
Overall: n/a
Additional comments:

  • Specializes in gelato
  • About 20 rotating flavours at a time
  • All natural, home made
  • Full brunch/lunch menu
  • Coffee/tea/smoothies
  • Hip/hipster
  • Budget friendly
  • Family friendly
  • Vegetarian/vegan friendly
  • Dairy free friendly
  • Gluten free friendly
  • Eco-friendly
  • Winter hours: Mon-Fri 12pm-7pm, Sat-Sun 10am-7pm
  • Weekend Brunch served 10am-3pm
  • Twitter: @BorealGelato

**Recommendations: Boreal Balsam Gelato

Boreal Gelato Cafe Toronto (7)I know. I’ve shown this photo over and over again in my Follow Me Foodie to Toronto series. Being from the West Coast of Canada (Vancouver, BC), I am unfamiliar with the East Coast Toronto weather. I didn’t warm up to it at all, but that didn’t stop me from having gelato in the winter. It actually got colder as I brought it outside. So why was I eating gelato in the winter? Well because I love it that much, and because there was a special flavour unique to this neighbourhood cafe.

Boreal Gelato Cafe Toronto (1)I had recommendations to try Boreal Gelato, but specifically for their Boreal Balsam gelato. It wasn’t a top priority, but I just happened to walk by it on my way for brunch at Grand Electric. It was almost right next door so I made a mental note that I would get it for dessert. It was the only reason I didn’t order the Key Lime Pie at Grand Electric.

If I didn’t know about this place I would have walked right by it. It also offers daily lunch and weekend brunch with options for every kind of diet, so it really caters to locals in the area (you can imagine the area).

Boreal Gelato Cafe Toronto (2)It was located in an up and coming hip/hipster area and it had all the signs of it…

Boreal Gelato Cafe Toronto (3)… like this. It felt like a vintage garage sale and the decor was one of a kind.

Boreal Gelato Cafe Toronto (4)Anyway I headed straight to the back because I came for this! The gelato. My eyes read the gelato labels as fast as they could, excited to find and see the flavour I came here specifically to try, but then I started to panic. I couldn’t find it. Where was it? I couldn’t see it. *Deep breath* try again. I read over the labels again and this time slowly. I still didn’t see it. How could it be? It’s supposed to be the most popular and infamous flavour. How could it not be offered?

I asked the staff why I couldn’t find their signature “Boreal Balsam Gelato” and he looked at me and said “we just ran out yesterday and haven’t made any today yet”. WHAT?! You ran out?! Don’t you have back up?! You know it’s the best seller, why wouldn’t you make more?! All those questions ran through my head, but I also realized they make everything in small batches. So I relaxed and let out a puppy dog sigh. He caught onto my disappointment and followed with “well let me check in the back because there might be some leftover.” Oh yay! *Fingers crossed*.

Boreal Gelato Cafe Toronto (5)And tada! I got the edges of the container.

Boreal Gelato Cafe Toronto (7)So you might be thinking why I would eat it outside? Well I was on a time crunch to make it for brunch #2 at Black Hoof. It was about a half hour walk away and I needed to walk off brunch #1… so I did it with gelato in hand. It was almost rock solid by the time I arrived. It made the walk colder, but ironically more pleasant.

Boreal Gelato Cafe Toronto (6)This had nothing to do with Boreal Gelato, but along the way I saw this cafe. Knit Cafe. It was very… well you know (#8 on the list).

On the table:

Boreal Gelato Cafe Toronto (5)**Boreal Balsam Gelato n/a

  • Mini scoop $2.50 One scoop $4 Two scoops $6
  • They charged $4 for the one scoop of gelato they were planning to toss out from yesterday’s batch.
  • Since it wasn’t exactly fresh, I didn’t feel like it was appropriate to “rate” it.
  • I still got the idea and the flavour, but the texture was not quite right or how it would normally be served.
  • Looking at the other gelatos they served it still wasn’t as creamy as I prefer.
  • They came out as scoops and gelato should be creamy enough to not form perfect scoops.
  • The gelato is made with all natural ingredients and in small batches, but I prefer Bella Gelateria or Secret Location back at home.
  • The flavour I would recommend because it was unique and special to Canada and Boreal Gelato.
  • Boreal Balsam gelato is made with needles from balsam trees found in the boreal forest in Canada.
  • The needles are steeped in the milk and later removed, so the flavour is infused throughout.
  • It was refreshing and a bit icy due to it not being fresh and perhaps stored in a colder freezer.
  • The flavour was mild and natural and it tasted like maple ice cream with gentle notes of pine or mint, and it was not woody or herby.
  • The base was just a standard milk flavour and it was not nearly as sweet as maple syrup or most maple flavoured ice creams.
  • I liked that she used milk as the base and that she just let the balsam flavour be without adding anything else to it.
  • The texture was more like American ice cream than Italian gelato and it did not have an egg based custard rich texture.
  • Again, I liked the flavour more than the texture, but I have to try it fresh.
  • The flavour was quite simple so don’t expect anything life changing, but it is very good and original.

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