Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Ice Cream Bar

The Ice Cream Bar is an old fashioned soda fountain located in Cole Valley.  Sounds right up my alley, right?  I was really excited about it, at least in concept, when it opened, but somehow didn't manage to get there until recently.  I have read plenty of reviews though, and, in the end, I agreed with them entirely.

One word summary? Overrated.  Second word?  Expensive.  Honestly, just not worth it.

It is cute, for sure.  Except, I found it a bit ridiculous, rather than charming.  There was something about it that just seemed like they were trying too hard.

I know they are passionate about being an authentic 1930s soda fountain.  They use high quality organic dairy.  They make everything in house.  But ... it is just too expensive, and not actually much better tasting than the alternatives.
Ice Cream Counter.
When you enter, the first counter is for ice cream.  A number of flavors are available, plus toppings.

I heard great things about the Banana Puddin flavor, so, even though it was freezing out and I didn't want ice cream, I couldn't resist at least trying it.

It was ... ice cream.  Decent banana flavor, bits of something like nilla wafer in it.  But really, just ice cream, and not worth the prices they charge, at least in my mind.  They also have a number of decadent looking sundaes.

From this area you can also order savory food, as the menu includes a few sandwiches and burgers.  I didn't ever see anyone get one, and it clearly isn't the focus of the establishment.
Soda Fountain.
The back of the restaurant features the soda fountain, with a soda jerk wearing a silly hat and bow tie and all.

It is here that all the soda based drinks are crafted.  This includes not just basic sodas, but also boozy creations, malts, milkshakes, and floats.  They also offer beer and wine for the less adventurous.

The malts and milkshakes are classic style, using milk, egg, and ice, not ice cream.  If you want ice cream, you need to go for a float.
Tinctures all lined up.
The sodas make up the largest portion of the menu, ranging from a $5 ginger beer to a $9 "Touch of Grey", featuring candy cap mushroom syrup.

Speaking of syrups, all the housemade tinctures were lined up on the bar in front.  A bit show-offy.
Petaluma Float.  $8.50.
"A float of fruit sorbet in a tart Straus yogurt soda, with a double-dose of lactart."

Ojan selected literally the only drink I had zero interest in.  Sorbet is useless to me, and yogurt drinks I rarely care for.

I still tried it of course.  It was exactly what I expected.  The yogurt was tart and yogurty.  The sorbet was fruity and icy.  The foam was nice.

Ojan didn't like it either, nor did anyone else in our group.  After a few sips each, it went entirely unfinished, a complete waste of money.

At $8.50, it was also one of the priciest options, and it really wasn't worth it at all.
The Creme of Sodas.  $7.
"Sarsaparilla tincture, vanilla extract, turbinado syrup, egg white, lactart, soda."

I adore cream soda, so this was actually the one I was most interested in, of the sodas.

It was decent.  Nice flavor, probably more complex than any cream soda I've ever had before.  The froth was impressive.

But $7 soda?  This just isn't my style.
Russell's Sasafras Root Beer Float.  $8.
"Our cold-brewed sassafras based elixir made with 11 herbs and spices."

The final member of our group opted for the root beer float, something he's had a number of times and loves.

It is their housemade root beer, plus a scoop of their housemade vanilla ice cream, topped with a marshmallow torched to order.

It was a good root beer float, but, at the end of the day, just a root beer float.  I honestly didn't think it was much better than a can of classic A&W with a scoop of generic vanilla ice cream in it.  When you mix things together like this, the subtlety of the high end ingredients is lost.

The price is $6.50 for a root beer, or $8 for the float, which, given their pricing, was actually a bit reasonable, since it had so much going on.
The Ice Cream Bar Soda Fountain on Urbanspoon
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