In honor of the beginning of summer, I wanted to visit as many ice cream shops as I could find. And I discovered that it’s surprisingly hard to find a spot that serves up plain old-fashioned ice cream—not gelato, not snoballs, not frozen yogurt—just ice cream. Using that as my criteria (which is why you don’t see my beloved gelateria Angelo Brocato’s below), I surveyed our local ice cream landscape. In order to best judge each shop’s merits, I ordered one “normal” flavor and one that sounded weird. The rating is based on an average of the two flavors. Here are the results.
Ice Cream 504 (2511 Jena St.)
Flavors tried: Peach Almond Petit Four and “Cherry Jame.” Okay, neither of these flavors is normal per se, but Cherry ice cream is pretty standard, right? I don’t know what “Cherry Jame” means, but it ended up being a totally regular cherry-flavored ice cream. Maybe it was supposed to be cherry jam? It didn’t taste anything like cherry jam, so maybe not? In any event, the cherries in question were of the jarred maraschino variety, which is fine with me, but I could see lots of people not being into that, as it gave the ice cream a fake cherry chapstick sort of flavor. The Peach Almond Petit Four was the clear frontrunner. It really did taste like peach petit fours (which is a food that I’ve never eaten, but which I can totally imagine the flavor of ). I love petit fours, as they’re like little wedding cakes! And I love peaches, so it was great and totally made up for the lackluster Cherry Jame. The owner of Ice Cream 504 works in the shop and is very proud of his ice cream, which he makes on site. He’s also a talker and told me all about his ice cream crafting, which was a nice homey touch, even though the decor at this spot is totally bare bones. Nonetheless, I’ll be back!
8.5/10 Cherry James
Baskin-Robbins (various locations)
Flavors tried: Made With Snickers Ice Cream and Chocolate. I picked Made With Snickers because the name, although certainly illustrative of the flavor, is also weirdly wordy. There must be some legal issue with Baskin- Robbins not just naming this thing Snickers Ice Cream, although I can’t imagine why “Made With Snickers Ice Cream” is a better option. In any event, this is a pretty solid ice cream. It tastes exactly like those frozen Snickers you can buy at the drugstore, except that it’s in ice cream format instead of being shaped like a bar. The Chocolate tasted like chocolate. It was nothing special and paled in comparison to the Made With Snickers. Nonetheless, it was fine. I was skeptical that a national big boy like Baskin-Robbins could play with the fancier local guys, but they’re totally competent. The shop isn’t cute and you probably shouldn’t drag a date there, but at the end of every month that has 31 days––hello, May—you can get a cone for $1.31. So, you know, why not?
7/10 Big Boys
Fairchild’s (2321 W Esplanade Ave., Kenner)
Flavors tried: Birthday Cake and Rum Raisin. Rum Raisin was not what I was planning on ordering, but my tasting companion had it and literally freaked out, insisting I try some. And y’all: this one is so inexplicable. It tasted oddly like bacon, with a distinct soy sauce aftertaste. What is going on here? It is hands down the most disgusting flavor I tried anywhere, and I’m a rum raisin and bacon fan! I like soy sauce too, but why are these flavors together? Birthday Cake tasted like sugar and nothing else. It didn’t even taste like vanilla or icing. The texture on both was intensely grainy and weird, not quite freezer burnt, but almost there. Don’t bother with Fairchild’s, even if you’re desperate.
0/10 Inexplicable Bacons
Creole Creamery (4924 Prytania St.)
Flavors tried: Champagne Violette and Salted Caramel. Creole Creamery is the gold standard of New Orleans ice cream shops and I get it: their ice cream is delicious. But are they the best out there? In order to best gauge this, I tried Champagne Violette and Salted Caramel. Champagne Violette is bright, sparkly, and tastes vaguely like alcoholic soap; it’s a Violet’s candy that’s been dipped in glitter at a speakeasy. It’s an old-fashioned taste but it manages not to be like anything I’ve had before. This may be the most me flavor of anything that’s ever existed (yes, even more me than Pandora’s Orchid Cream Vanilla snoball.) Champagne Violette makes me want to wax poetic about fading glamour, tarnished rhinestones, and moth-eaten silk. In other words, it’s the flavor of a fancy junk shop and I mean that in the best way possible. It’s amazing. Salted Caramel is good, don’t get me wrong. It manages the delicate balancing act of sweet and salty; it’s delightful. But my heart belongs to Champagne Violette. C’est magnifique! The texture of both flavors was perfect; the good people at Creole Creamery clearly know what they’re doing. My only complaint is that it’s always noisy and kind of unpleasant in there. Maybe they should think about investing in some sound attenuation panels? But really, it’s rude of me to complain about something so minor when they managed to create my soulmate in the form of an ice cream flavor.
10/10 Tarnished Rhinestones
Laurel’s Licks (pop up, different locations)
Flavors tried: Bacon Maple Chocolate Chip and Vietnamese Iced Coffee. Whilst hunting for ice cream options online, I stumbled across Laurel’s Licks, a vendor who has popped up at Propellor, The St. Claude Food Truck Park, etc. So I sent a message to the owner asking if she was going to be slinging ice cream anywhere in the near future. While she said no, she offered to make me a half pint or pint of whatever flavor I wanted and would have it ready for pick-up or delivery in 48 hours (and don’t worry, my journalistic integrity is still intact. I didn’t mention that I’m a big fancy writer here at ANTIGRAVITY—apparently she’ll do this for anyone!) As a nod to that distressingly bacon-tinged Rum Raisin from Fairchild’s, I ordered the Bacon Maple Chocolate Chip and for my normal option I chose Vietnamese Iced Coffee. I guess it’s not super normal, but coffee ice cream is pretty popular. Well, the Bacon Maple Chocolate Chip turned out to be the loser. There’s a mouthfeel issue with putting actual strips of bacon in ice cream. I don’t think anyone really wants to eat frozen bacon; it’s off-putting. I found myself eating around it, which isn’t a good thing. The maple ice cream was fine but frozen congealed pork fat isn’t my thing. Despite what recent food trends may have taught us, bacon doesn’t need to be in everything. Vietnamese Iced Coffee tastes exactly like every other coffee flavored ice cream you’ve ever tried. Where Laurel’s excels, though, is with texture. These were the creamiest ice creams I tried (with the exception of the Xue Hua Bing which you’re about to learn about!) and that counts for a lot. Laurel also threw in several sample ice creams, all of which were better than Bacon Maple Chocolate Chip, so I blame myself for ordering that one. Go for the White Chocolate Chip Lavender if you decide to give Laurel’s Licks a try!
7.5/10 Pop Ups
Yum Yang Ice (925 Behrman Hwy., Terrytown [inside Hong Kong Market])
I’m breaking my own “ice cream only” rule because I have to tell y’all about Yum Yang Ice. They’re located inside of Hong Kong Market, behind the produce section. They are my new favorite icy dessert spot. They serve Bingsu, a creamy shaved ice dessert, and Snowflake Mountain (or Xue Hua Bing) which is layered sheets of frozen condensed milk. I am a Snowflake Mountain super fan! I highly recommend the Taro Snowflake Mountain with mochi and gummies or the Peanut Butter with coffee jelly and caramel cups. But I don’t think you could go wrong no matter what you order. The texture is heavenly and these desserts are beautiful. Edible crinoline? I’m all in. One of my dining companions ordered the Watermelon Bingsu and it tasted like the most delicious watermelon sorbet I’ve ever eaten. And it’s an excuse to go to Hong Kong Market! Win Win.
10/10 Edible Crinolines