First Look: The Arrow, an organic-friendly café and ice creamery at Dundas and Ossington
By Anna Silman
We all scream for ice cream (Images: Anna Silman)
At the end of June, childhood friends Robin Eley, Owais Rafiq and Eli Bach opened The Arrow, a mostly organic ice creamery and coffee shop at the corner of Dundas and Ossington. It’s an ice cream shop that’s open early or a coffee shop that’s open late, depending on how you look at it: weekday hours are 7.30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and it’s open later on weekends. The team feels that ice cream and coffee are the perfect duo for the the Ossington strip.
“They make a happy contrast,” says Eley.
The aim is to focus as much on local and organic ingredients as possible. Most of the ice cream comes from Mapleton’s Organic, an organic dairy farm outside of Guelph, where the team picks up its ice cream in person every week.
The Arrow is also the only Toronto retailer to carry by-the-scoop ice cream from Coconut Bliss (it can be found in some health food shops), an American company that uses coconut milk to create a vegan and dairy-free alternative to typical ice cream.
Flavours rotate depending on what’s available seasonally, but when we were there, the café had mint chocolate chip, cappuccino, chocolate and lavender from Mapleton’s, as well as coconut, vanilla and dark chocolate from Coconut Bliss ($2.50-$5, depending on the size). Buffalo milk ice cream from Monforte Dairy was sold out, but new stock is expected for this week.
The Arrow bills itself as “mostly a coffee shop,” with the ice cream as a nice added bonus for summer. Caffeinated standards include espressos ($2.50), macchiatos, mochas, Americanos, lattes and more, with coffee pulled on a La Marzocco machine and sourced from the organic beanery Hockley Valley. Also available is homemade lemonade sourced from a friend ($2.50-$3), as well as cookies from the nearby Lindsey Bakes on Roncy. The cookies come in a range of quirky, sweet and salty flavours such as Kitchen Sink ($2.25), which features chips, pretzels, marshmallows, chocolate chips and coffee grounds.
Eley sees the close-knit team as somewhat of a family.
“We’re keeping it as local and sort of family — well, extended family — as we can, using people we know and trying to involve as many people as possible,” Eley says.
Even the artwork on the walls has been kept “in the family,” with the prints sourced from a graphic novel drawn by an old friend, Stefan Berg. The artwork fits well with the overall décor: the building used to be an old newspaper press, and the decoration is centered around old letterheads, printing blocks and printing trays.
The building had a few surprises in store for the team as well. Pulling up the carpet while renovating, they discovered what was to become their signature image, printed on to the linoleum: an A with an arrow through it. This image — which they believe used to belong to an old newspaper called The Arrow Press that was once printed in the building — provided a name and logo.
“It was sort of a gift when we pulled up the carpet and found that,” Eley says.
And what better gift could we ask for in return than ice cream and coffee, together, and open late, on one of the city’s favourite street corners?
The Arrow, 1164 Dundas St. W. 647-772-2030