Today was the opening of Scoop, a Palo Alto ice cream place.
Thankfully, it does not have the lines of Cream, the ice cream sandwich place, which is still about 45 minutes day or night.
Cream is in the old HagenDaz spot, between Andale/MedWraps/Steam and Sushi Tomi, right up from the Stanford theater, across from the two later-night places (Pizza My Heart and Cafe 220). This is a brilliant spot, as there are plenty of late evening college kids roaming about. They have three or four tables outside but no seating inside.
A small is 4.50 (2 flavors), medium 5.50 (3 flavors), have waffle cones but don't make them to-order. Current plan is open to 11pm on weekends (although today, opening day, they closed at 10)
It's a mom n pop / family operation, where the owners look as they could be ethnically anywhere from Turkey or Armenian all the way through Egyptian or Persian. They're older, not hipster at all, and were wearing cute nametags. They were slightly pained by the technology, such as their new touchpad POS system that needed internet connectivity.
On to the ice cream.
The sign said they use Strauss milk (not ice cream base). They have two massive nitrogen tanks right by the cash register, and they have inherited the ice cream cases of the hagen daz place. They don't make the ice cream to order, instead, they make in fairly small batches and place in the display cases. I was a little surprised by this, but the owner said they were concerned about long wait times, and found the taste is just as fresh if they make batches every hour or so. We didn't see them making anything, although as we sat outside it did kind of look like they were making a new batch.
We had a "vanilla and salted caramel" and a "something and bacon toffee". The base is heavenly smooth and creamy, like the best of bi-rite on a good day. That was my first experience with Nitrogen ice cream, and I suspect that this smooth character is a characteristic of the Nitrogen process. Very pleasant and wonderful.
The flavors were not quite the same hit. We had "something and bacon toffee" and "vanilla and salted caramel", and the flavors were not particularly vibrant. Belatedly, I saw the Chili Mango, which might have been great. The flavor selection was generally a little lame, nothing great like Bananas Foster, not even a Ginger. I don't know if the N technique means some flavors are harder.
GF loved it. Loved the texture. Loved the vanilla. Didn't seem bothered that you couldn't really taste any caramel, let alone salt.
I'm sure we'll be back now and then. If they can nail the flavor side of the equation, the place will be a huge hit - right now, it's aiming to be a solid citizen for a good long while.
[ At 9:30, we were on our way to dinner @ Rangoon Ruby, the place was packed with a line, so we went over to gravity, which was full with a line, but we found two spots at the bar. Gravity is doing very well, and we had a pleasant plate of mussels with an unfortunately bland sauce, a merguez on a bun hotdog style, and a nice pasta dish (and no wine or spirits). The Merguez could have been much more succulent - I think of Merguez almost like Thai Sour Sausage, should be savory and very funky - and it wasn't like that. Still, we enjoy Gravity. ]
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