Hotel Gelato is a bright and shiny spot on Eglinton West. Part cafe, part gelateria, part bistro, they've only been open for less than a year, but already co-owners Dan Hoffaman and Christopher Borowski are greeting regulars who have come in for their after-supper sweet fix. Children rush around legs to peer into the glass counter of colourful gelato and sorbetto flavours.
True to its name, the room resembles a classic boutique hotel - chandeliers hang from the ceiling and plush leather chairs and black countertops dot the room. My comrade and I settle into a spot by the south-facing window and head up to a counter to order.
Hotel Gelato makes all of their gelato and sorbetto in-house, and with 70 flavours in rotation at any given time, there are about 24 we have to chose from when we visit. Their gelato is made daily in small batches using the freshest ingredients to ensure that the product is always fresh and delicious.
Beyond the dozens of iced treats, they have a small menu featuring savoury items like salads and panini, and we choose a salad and two panini. The quinoa salad with basil, arugula, watercress, roasted cherry tomatoes and lemon is light and flavourful, with the spicy argula packing a nice punch. It's a simple dish and at $9, a good accompaniment to our panini.
The chili chicken panino ($10) is packed with large portions of chicken and the guacamole and cilantro mayonnaise makes for a moist bite. The bread is nicely toasted but a little bit on the thick side for our liking. The hummus and grilled vegetable panino ($9) is enjoyable as well. Grilled eggplant, red onion, mushroom, pepper, zucchini, goat cheese and hummus make for a messy bite. Panini is served with a small side salad with a light vinaigrette.
Moving on past the panini and salads however, are the star contenders - the sweets. The pear and brown sugar muffin ($2.75) is absolutely delectable, with chunks of moist pear beneath a cake-like base and streusel-like, sugary crust.
The alfajore cookie is one of the best I've had in the city, and worth the $2.75. It is so good that I now have competition for the former reigning contender of my heart and maker of alfajore cookies: Arepa Cafe .
The chocolate tart is also delicious, with a single layer of caramel below soft chocolate filling .
Hotel Gelato's pastry chef, Chelsea Bernhardt produces all of the baked goods in house, and fare usually includes a daily scone, daily muffin, cookies, croissants, a daily 4" tart and a daily mini tart ($2.75). They also do red velvet cupcakes and selection of mini cupcakes as well.
Onto the gelato, we try two of their most popular flavours: Spiced Mayan Chocolate and Vanilla Sponge Toffee ($3.75 for a small cup). The former is awesome, and packs a spicy kick against the delectable chocolate. The Vanilla Sponge Toffee gelato has layers of house-made sponge toffee layered over top. The mango and strawberry are equally delicious, bursting with fresh fruit flavor. Coffee and tea options are also plentiful, with fair trade coffee and loose leaf teas.
What's also notable about Hotel Gelato are the options they have for those with dietary restrictions. They offer non dairy, vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free delights, including baked goods by Sweets from the Earth and LPK Culinary Groove .
All in all, Hotel Gelato is a great new edition to the Eglinton West neighbourhood. They have truly filled a niche here by providing a gathering place for people of all ages to convene over good food.
Hoffman and Borowski have big plans for the fall, including a weekend brunch and evening tapas menu, as well as a catering side of the business for special events. Until then, there are 66 more gelato flavours and a delectable-looking croissant that I have to work my way through, and a house salad with candied walnuts that's caught my eye.
Hotel Gelato is open Monday to Thursday 10 am to 11 pm, Friday 10 am to midnight, Saturday 9 am to midnight and Sunday 9 am to 11 pm. Check them out in the near future for an expanded menu.
Photos by Dennis Marciniak