Gurts is Roncesvalles' answer to self-serve frozen yogurt. But unlike most fro-yo shops, Gurts has an extra element to help it through the slow winter months. That is, freshly baked goods in the form of cookies, cupcakes, whoopie pies and more.
"Our friend is a fantastic baker," Stu, one half of the Gurts ownership team, tells me. He has a wicked Zach Galifianakis vibe and I secretly hope our interview can somehow take place between two ferns. He and childhood friend Matt decided to leave their IT jobs to open up a shop on Roncesvalles (where Stu grew up) and came across the space for lease a few months ago, formerly the home of Queen of Tarts. Matt and Stu overhauled the space adding drive-in-movie-esque caricatures to the front window and a fantastic wooden hawk art piece by Matt McNaught on the north wall.
"Lindsay, my roommate, is a pastry chef," Stu continues, "and we thought if we were going to do a frozen yogurt shop, we definitely need some of her baking too."
While the roster of baked goods is still in development, there is plenty on display when I stop by on Gurts' third day open. There are banana/cream cheese whoopie cookies ($3.85), mini ($2.50) and large ($3.85) cupcakes in flavours such as chocolate raspberry and pumpkin, and ginger chews and other little cookies ($1.50) that have, so far, been customer favourites.
While there's no denying the prices for the baked goods are a little steeper than you might find at other bakeries, the ginger and chocolate chip cookies I try are totally delicious and appropriately chewy. The indulgent fro-yo-enthusiast might opt for one or more to top their cup of frozen yogurt, which Stu tells me comes from a local Markham supplier.
"We did a lot of shopping around," he says as we pause by the self-serve machines. "We really didn't want the power kind--what we have is liquid based--and I think it tastes a whole lot better."
Gurts is currently offering four flavours--original, chocolate, maple nut, and banana--but will be changing the offerings regularly, along with the items in the table of toppings (priced together at $0.55/oz). At present there are a lot of kid-favourites including chocolate chips, gummy worms, sprinkles, and M&M's, as well as peaches, blueberries, and more fresh fruit to come. Matt and Stu plan to offer a gluten-free flavour in the coming weeks, and are looking into dairy-free and other diet-conscious options.
I sample three of the four flavours, and while the maple nut is just the slightest bit icy, both the original and chocolate are smooth and creamy, and all of the above tastes clean, crisp, and natural. The original tart is my favourite, packing lots of yogurt taste and a consistent texture.
For now,Gurts is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and if all goes well, as throughout the winter as well.
Photos by Jesse Milns