The Great Toronto Ice Cream Sundae Challenge: Summer's ice cream

The Great Toronto Ice Cream Sundae Challenge: A pricey proposition

The early 1980's seems to have been somewhat of a golden age in Toronto's ice cream history. Dutch Dreams and Greg's both sprung from this era as did Summer's Ice Cream in Yorkville.

For whatever reason, the desire for premium quality, small batch ice cream was floating around in the ether at the time, and these places seem to have picked up on it. Of the three, Summer's is the baby at 26 years old, a small parlour on the lower floor or a building on Yorkville Ave. It's got a handful of tables inside, but most people opt for the benches just outside in the sun. In fact, on sunny days Summer's is a pretty easy place to spot with the overflow of couples and families loitering just out front, licking the ice cream off their drippy cones.

The ice cream is well loved by the neighbourhood, but what about the sundaes?

ICE CREAM: 5/5

Summer's makes all of their ice cream in house. In this case, that's a good thing because they take their ice cream very seriously. Over the past 26 years the Summer's family has pretty much perfected their recipe for ice cream. They claim their secret is premium ingredients--who am I to argue? All I know is that it has that wonderfully creamy texture that makes ice cream so irresistible.

When sampling particularly splendid ice cream, I find it's best to keep it simple when it comes to flavour selection, and being particularly fond of vanilla, I thought a scoop of the standard was in order. It was bright, milky, subtly sweet and spoonably soft.

TOPPINGS: 4/5

When ordering a sundae, you get a choice of three toppings, which includes any sauces or whipped cream. I opted for caramel sauce, Skor bites and peanuts, which of course I'm happy with (I picked them), but at this juncture I'm really looking for something unique and Summer's is definitely more of a classics type parlour. That's understandable of course, not everyone eats an ice cream sundae every day and as such, not everyone is on the hunt for the ice cream avant-garde.

As a regular ol' ice cream parlour though, they do pretty well. They've got a decent selection of nuts, fruits, chocolates and real-deal whipped cream--and the caramel was dark and rich.

PRESENTATION: 3.5/5

I suppose it's my own fault for ordering a single scoop sundae, but this was a bit puny even by those standards. To their credit, they use clear plastic cups which are vaguely more visually appealing than paper; on the other hand though, they're much worse for mother nature. This is definitely more of a scoop and serve type of environment rather than one focused on prettying up the ice cream.

VALUE: 2/5

More on the puny aspect of this sundae--it was $6.25! How much would a double scoop cost? A full $9.25! That makes this place officially the most expensive sundae of the challenge, which would be okay if it were also the most impressive, but it's passable at best. Sure the ice cream is excellent, but it's been rare that the ice cream hasn't been excellent. It should kind of be a given that the ice cream be excellent at an ice cream parlour, no?

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: 3.5/5

If the contest were ice cream alone, Summer's would do just fine. I have no complaints about the quality of their product; the issue has to do mostly with pricing, which plays on presentation as well. If this were a $4.00 sundae it would be getting top marks. It's a simple, traditional sundae--no more, no less. But at $9.25 for a large sundae, there should be more to it than simple and traditional. For $9.25 it should be a monument to aspire to, something other parlours talk about, but wouldn't dare try themselves. But instead of doing that with their sundaes, it's just in the prices. This is Yorkville, afterall — and no one goes bargain shopping in Yorkville.

TOTAL SCORE: 18/25 (72%)

Previously in the series:


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