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Restaurants

Sweet Olenka's

Posted by Robyn Urback / Reviewed on August 22, 2012 / review policy

sweet olenkas torontoSweet Olenka's started with its chocolate, but it has since become famous for its summertime ice cream. Right on Lakeshore Boulevard West in Etobicoke, Ray and Olenka are the 'mom and pop' pair running this community hub, churning out favourites such as their "wasabi Buddha" truffles and dark chocolate ginger ice cream.

sweet olenkas torontoThe shop started in a tiny "hole in the wall space," says Ray, "just over a few doors on Lakeshore."

"It was about 100 square feet," he continues, "with a little submarine lower-level kitchen." Sweet Olenka's, unsurprisingly, grew out of that space, and opened in this larger location about two years ago.

sweet olenkas torontoThe couple brought with them Olenka's European chocolate know-how, handed down from her grandfather who worked as a chocolatier in Ukraine. The shop now boasts chocolate in all of its many, glorious forms; from bars, to truffles, to cake and ice cream. The bars include everything from blueberry to cherry, arranged alongside bags of chocolate-covered fruits and nuts.

sweet olenkas torontoThen, there are the truffles. "Olenka has gotten into using all sorts of molds," Ray says, pointing out the pear-shaped pear caramels ($1.50) and coffee-mug espresso truffles ($1.50). Some of the more unusual options include the aforementioned wasabi Buddha (shaped like a Buddha) ($1.00), pineapple truffles ($1.00), and the "Chocolate Fig Bomb" ($2.50) consisting of a ganache-filled fig covered with chocolate.

sweet olenkas torontoWhile in the early Sweet Olenka's days it was all about the chocolate, Ray and Olenka started noticing a bit of a downturn during the summer months. So without any professional training (though Ray did end up taking a course later on), the couple decided to create their own ice creams using good old-fashioned trial and error.

"It was a lot of error," Ray quips. "But finally, we got it down."

sweet olenkas torontoFour main ingredients go into their ice cream, Ray says; milk, cream, sugar, and a milk protein base. "We make all of our mixes from scratch, we pasteurize it ourselves, and we make batches 10 litres at a time. The shop uses mostly seasonal fruits and only natural ingredients to flavour its ice creams, a collection that includes flavours such as Red Velvet, Guava, and Maple Walnut.

sweet olenkas torontoTempted to go for a scoop ($2.95) of one of Sweet Olenka's homemade waffle cones, I'm instead swayed by the lineup of ice cream bars ($3.50), which combine Olenka's ice creams with a chocolate coating (house-made, of course). Debating between the crème brûlée and the almond bars, I opt for the latter and am glad I did. The chocolate coating stays together better than your average commercial bar, bending more than cracking with every new bite.

Tempered and creamy, the chocolate is the perfect complement to the almond ice cream, which has a subtle almond flavour and a smooth consistency. But alas, the heat takes over my battle between my ice cream bar and time, leaving the last remnants of my ice cream dripping on the concrete.

sweet olenkas torontoSweet Olenka's has also recently started to expand its spread of baked goods, offering (chocolate-rich) cakes, cupcakes, and more, along with coffee from Birds and Beans. And for all of those Arrested Development fans (or not) west of Royal York, Sweet Olenka's makes a frozen chocolate-dipped banana too.

Photos by Morris Lum

Discussion

14 Comments

Marlene / July 25, 2011 at 02:48 pm
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The best ice cream in Ontario period. The flavour profile includes Goat Cheese, Figs, Ginger, Guava, and the riches chocolate anywhere. To make goat cheese ice cream rich and savoury, is a great accomplishment.
Oluqui / August 14, 2011 at 04:32 pm
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I love this place! The best ice cream and truffles to be found anywhere. Love the wasabi buddhas.
loper / August 22, 2012 at 10:51 am
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Thank you BlogTO. More of this... the non-obvious places.
Moose / August 22, 2012 at 12:52 pm
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Dammit. I was hoping Sweet Olenka's wouldn't be featured so that I can have the ice cream for myself :P Great place. She must be married to Willy Wonka. Chocolate everywhere, decadent cakes, tasty belgium waffles, and some of the best ice cream in T.O. Kinda sad that their flavours are limited in supply before a new flavour is made. Variety is the spice of life, I suppose :)
d bowie / August 22, 2012 at 01:25 pm
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Great ice cream in one of the last remaining hipster free neighbourhoods.
Nicole B / August 22, 2012 at 07:33 pm
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Very nice place and good staff. I stumbled onto this place a while ago. A staff member was kind enough to direct me to gluten free chocolates.
Welshgrrl / August 23, 2012 at 04:33 pm
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If I ran the internet I'd administer everyone who typed the word h*p*t*r a short, sharp shock ... such a tired and overused term.

On topic, definitely looks like a store worth going out of my way for.
Tina / August 23, 2012 at 07:40 pm
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Absolutely wonderful place. I just had ascoop of rasberry marscapone. Lucky to live in this area!
Lloyd Moseby / August 24, 2012 at 12:20 am
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Visited my relatives who live in the area. Went to grab some ice cream there with the kids. Loved it. Good flavors (had the Red Velvet). Nice customer service.
Antonio Lopes / September 9, 2012 at 07:55 pm
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Sweet Olenka's is by far the best homemade ice cream place that I have been to in Ontario. The ice cream is flavorful, rich and creamy, and well priced. The location is very well hidden and a bit of a treck but worth every scoop and delicious nugget! Plus, they have unbelievable chocolate truffles, cakes and pies! Take a drive down there from the more popular area and pick up a bucket of ice cream and I can guarantee you it will be gone within hours not days!

CK / May 3, 2013 at 04:17 pm
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Amazing. We used to live in the neighbourhood, but have since moved. Anytime we're near downtown, we always stop in. Such good quality. Everything, from the cakes and cookies, to the chocolate, is absolutely delicious. Only Olenka can convince me to try flavours and combos I've disliked all my life. Total artist and artisan.
USBJ / July 8, 2013 at 04:27 pm
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Truffles are very, very good!! Love the molds. Very whimsy and just adds that extra touch to an already great product. Any time I visit my relatives in the area we make sure we stop here. Also, great customer service which is very important and often lacking from some places these days.
Mike / June 13, 2014 at 04:02 pm
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simply the most amazing ice cream and chocolate in Toronto. Cookies are my favorite! so glad to see they've opened a second location.
boo / July 4, 2014 at 08:58 pm
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They buy their chocolate from the Lindt Store in Etobicoke.

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