With the rainy weather and temperatures starting to dip into the 60’s fall is undeniably just around the corner. So how does one savor the remaining days of sweet warm sunshine? Rooftop bars, outdoor dining, and sunbathing are all acceptable but for foodies summer treats like gelato and frozen yogurt are mandatory. That and soft serve ice cream. Here are the top contenders for the ultimate summer treat that brings out the 8 year old in all of us. And no, these are not your average Mister Softee.
Pastry chef Chika Tillman has been delighting New Yorkers with her delicate sweet creations since 2003. ChikaLicious Dessert Bar was one of the first establishments to serve only desserts offering a 3 course prix fixe dessert menu Thursday to Sunday evenings. And it is undoubtedly one of the best places in NY to go for dessert. Across the street is the café Dessert Club ChikaLicious. Here patrons come for Chika’s cupcakes, hailed as the best in Manhattan, and other confections like marshmallows, macarons, and éclairs, and yes, soft serve ice cream. The vanilla bean soft serve ice cream can be ordered plain or topped with hot fudge, fruits, chocolate pearls, or a shot of espresso. Or it can be enjoyed on an éclair cone. Yes, the éclair cookie serves as a unique base for the ice cream and this is one instance where the cone is definitely as much a joy to eat as the ice cream itself. The Éclair ice cream cone is $4 and sundaes are $6.
Of course, a piece on soft serve ice cream is incomplete without the mention of Momofuku Milk Bar. David Chang’s approach to dessert is the absolute opposite to that of Chika’s. Whereas Chika’s creations are decidedly Japanese in their elegance and subtle nuances, Chang’s are Westernized, comforting and definitively a guilty pleasure. A visit to ChikaLicious is romantic; a visit to Milk Bar is shamelessly indulgent. Patrons of Milk Bar enjoy items like crack pie, candy bar pie, and of course the variety of soft serve ice cream flavors that change by the season. The trademark cereal milk soft serve is always available and flavors like creamsicle and pumpkin rotate according to season. Here a single serving is $4.50. The pumpkin soft serve usually makes its appearance in the fall and it is simply wonderful.
Since Momofuku Milk Bar there have been plenty of newcomers in the soft serve arena. A particularly noteworthy one is Victory Garden in the West Village. This charming little shop sells soft serve ice cream and yogurt made from goat milk and prepared following the Middle Eastern tradition of incorporating floral essences into the dessert. The goat milk comes from a farm in Connecticut and they offer 4 different flavors each day. And these aren’t just plain strawberry or chocolate. Instead it’s lemon poppy or orange blossom vanilla, lavender, or even rose and mastic. The flavors range from mild to bold and exotic, always fragrant and memorable. And with toppings like stewed rhubarb, wheat germ, and powdered helva this shop is equivalent to an ice cream apothecary. Whether or not you will take to the unique and exotic flavor combinations it’s recommended that you try Victory Garden at least once. After all, it’s not everywhere you can get goat milk ice cream in mastic flavor.
Dessert Club ChikaLicious
204 E. 10th Streetbetween 1st & 2nd Avenues
Momofuku Milk Bar
EastVillage: 251 E. 13th Street corner of 2nd Avenue
Midtown: 15 W. 56th Street between 5th & 6th Avenues
31 Carmine Street between Bleecker St. & Avenue of the Americas