Sweet Esc Dessert Cafe
Sweet Esc Dessert Cafe is a hidden gem for your sweet tooth nestled in a strip mall in Markham. The imposing cookie-cutter buildings of suburbia that surround this cafe obscure the true art and love of cuisine inside.
Carrie Lu and her friends started up Sweet Esc because of just that: a love of food and cooking. They've put together a competent staff based on that dream that churns out both their own ice cream and cakes. They'll even make you cakes and cakelets to order that serve up to 10 people, and they accept custom orders if you dream as big as they do.
They're arguably best known for their thrilling hot plates ($8.50), which have the honour of taking up much of Sweet Esc Dessert Cafe's Instagram hashtag. There's a little form you can fill out opting for a waffle or brownie base; chocolate, vanilla, or green tea cream; a choice of ice cream: and of course, one free topping, with a charge for additional ones.
We go for the waffle base, vanilla cream, and the most popular ice cream, the coffee milk tea flavour. Mixed nuts, seasonal strawberry and pineapple chunks, and mini marshmallows make this hot plate truly glorious. The nut mix today is cashews, pumpkin seeds, pecans, and almonds, but watch for allergies as this mix changes regularly. So does the fruit.
Rarely do dessert places address a common no-brainer: eating sweet desserts makes you thirsty. Though a glass of milk is the go-to, Sweet Esc is just a little too creative for that. We try the Grape Squared, a combo of grape and grapefruit sodas. It tastes like an exact hybrid, which is more surprising and refreshing than one might expect.
After realizing Sweet Esc makes all those cakes to order in-house, we had to try a slice. They're $7 a pop, but depend on in-house availability. We went for the Bailey's cheesecake on special that day, drizzled generously with chocolate and topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
Sweet Esc has aims to get into the savoury game, too. They're hoping to draw in the brunch crowd, eventually maybe even opening earlier and doing brunch every day. There's only one other place in the area, Alchemy Coffee, that does brunch seven days a week.
That's where the kimchi pork belly toast comes in ($10). It's also a special that day, along with two savoury versions of their hot plate: a corn and cheese version and a chicken and waffles version. It's a thick piece of what one would be tempted to call Texas toast if we weren't in Markham, a slice of pork belly, a heap of kimchi, and scallions.
Photos by Hector Vasquez