My search for the best ice cream in New York continues ….
I have no explanation, it doesn’t make any sense, but ice cream has been the least represented dish on this site of late. I’ve searched for many iconic dishes here in the city and re-visited them all many times. It’s not uncommon to see a falafel or hot dog review on this site. But the last real ice cream review I wrote was almost a year ago now.
And it’s not like I’m not eating ice cream or that there aren’t new places to explore (there are tons!). So why don’t I revisit ice cream as much as pastrami or pizza? My only explanation is that I get so carried away by the ice cream experience that I forget to take notes and photos and concentrate on the quality. First world problems, clearly.
Well, I had to write a review of Morgenstern’s since they have been heralded as the most exciting new ice cream parlor in the city and I finish the Tenement tour literally across the street at Loreley. And the fact that they make unusual and exotic flavors (like banana durian or black licorice) is right up my alley.
So I finally made it inside the shop, which is designed to feel like a retro soda fountain. I immediately could tell this place takes itself way too seriously. As with any ice cream shop, the first thing I ask for is a taste of the ice cream. It’s just part of the ice cream culture.
It was even more important at this shop to get a taste of something before committing because the prices are very high and the flavors are difficult to imagine. Salt and Pepper Pinenut is a far cry from cookies and cream.
I was quickly told I was only allowed one taste. This is very different from the welcoming ice cream shops that encourage tasting and where the scoopers are excited about sharing their ice cream flavors. When asked why, I was told it was to help with inventory (really, a tiny half teaspoon is going to screw up the books?) and to help move the line quickly.
I have seen the long lines here, but on the day I was visiting, I was one of two people in the entire shop. Shouldn’t exceptions be made? Also, without tasting things, it takes me even longer to decide what I want. There goes the fast moving theory.
After questioning, the cashier did give me a second taste. I sampled both the Black Licorice, which is as intense and tasty as it sounds (if that’s your thing) and the Fernet Walnut (nicely balanced, creamy and herbal).
and Cardamom Lemon Jam (a little too cloyingly sweet).
When an order is placed, a ticket is given over to a scooper who acts like a chef in how precious the ice cream is prepared. I love my ice cream, but never have I seen someone take the craft so seriously.
My first visit was the best. I loved the Coffee Crisp (one of a few coffee ice creams on offer) which featured a deep rich coffee flavor with bits of a buttery crunchy candy and balanced with a touch of salt. It was truly an excellent ice cream flavor. One of the best I’ve had in a long time.
On my return visit, I tried the Tonka Bean. These rare beans are not related to the Tonka Toys of my youth, but rather similar to vanilla with a spicy, earthier note. The Central American beans themselves are actually illegal in this country, but that doesn’t stop many chefs from cooking with them and making them into ice cream. This was my first experience (it’s a gateway bean) and it was quite interesting. Almost difficult to explain, but it was smokier and more deeply flavored than vanilla. Plus nobody can call me boring for eating tonka beans.
For the most part, the ice cream at Morgenstern’s is excellent. The experience is a little annoying and snobby, but there’s no denying that the creative flavors and creamy texture is a victory. I’ll now add them to my regular conversation about the best ice cream in the city. And hopefully, my ice cream conversation will continue. Sorry I’ve been slacking, but ice cream, here I come!
Is Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream the best ice cream in NY? It’s excellent ice cream in texture and they get most of the bizarre flavors shockingly right. I can’t give them anything below a 9 out of 10, but I think they take themselves way too seriously and ice cream is supposed to fun!
|MORGENSTERN’S FINEST ICE CREAM|
|2 Rivington Street (between Bowery and Chrystie Street),
Lower East Side