Nice ice cream.
Not as intensly flavored as Sketch, but a better texture. Served in thin house-made cones with the name Ici stamped into it. A nice touch is the bit of chocolate at the bottom of the cone. The taste and texture of the cone reminded me of Pepperidge Farm Pirouette Rolled Wafers.
My favorite was the delicate coconut sorbet ... like coconut-flavored fresh snow. The peach-apricot ice cream had peach as the background flavor with tangy apricot notes.
Samples are given on little silver spoons. The tiny taste of honey lavendar was a little too subtle. The raspberry verbena's deep, tart raspberry goodness dominated.
There are ice cream sandwiches and ice cream bon bons. Signs with about ten flavors are on the wall. There was also Blue Bottle espresso ice cream, chocolate chip, blackberry, vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.
From the four tastes, these seem a light-textured ice cream with muted flavors. Tbey are clean, fresh and true, but they don't assault your tastebuds with the selected flavor. It is more understated elegance. Have I tap-danced enough here?
Ice cream is $2.50 for small, $3.50 for medium and $4.50 for large ... maybe. Not sure what I paid and got two small scoops. Maybe I paid $5, but could be wrong. The peach ice cream filled the cone and the coconut was the tennis ball-sized scoop on top.
These are delicate cones, so get a cup if buying for a small child, otherwise there may be a crumbled-cone ice cream drama.
Cookies and candy also available and those pretty bombe cakes. There was hazelnut and another that I forgot.
Nice people but even though the shop wasn't terribly crowded ... there were these welcoming smiles but this sort of stunned look on too many faces, like everyone had been up really late putting things together.
For a little shop, it was a bit confusing. Samples and orders are at the counter where the cakes are located, then pay at the register a few steps away.
I asked about samples because some other people were getting samples. I wasn't quite sure if they were friends or just customers.
There just was no clear direction. The owners were dressed in spotless white chef jackets. The ice cream was packed in stylish boxes. If you have a tendency to use words like 'precious' about restaurants, maybe stick to Baskin Robbins.
One note, if a shop is going for class, selling t-shirts seems wrong ... even lovingly folded and tied with a ribbon. I mean, Chez Panisses isn't selling t-shirts, are they?
Some early mentions in the press
Contra Costa Times
Marin Independant Journal (with a nice round up of Bay Area Ice Cream ... scroll down for Ici)
SF Chronicle ... an early announcement with background in the section about Chez Panisse departures.