I read with interest the messages on malts, floats, and treats that popped up here in the middle of February (see link below). Yes that midwinter craving for chocolate and ice cream had arrived. To keep myself from getting a pint or two of HagenDaz or Ben&Jerry each time I went shopping I told myself I would just have to wait until I had an opportunity to try what might be the best new place in town for a chocolate malt.
Finally an anti-war entertainment brought me to the area. I went early so I would have time to go by Be-Speckled Trout, 422 Hudson St/corner St. Luke's Place, 212.255.1421
The place looks like a novelty and candy store and indeed dime and candy store antiques are a significant part of the store's merchandise displayed from knee cap to ceiling: a variety of knick knacks, jellys, jams and specialty sweets. All that as a setting to showcase handmade chocolates in a display case and many chocolate confections in jars. Part of the dime stores of yore was the soda fountain and it seems that the owner had the whole setup for a fountain in storage for some time and this winter finally got it all cleaned up and operational.
I went around 6pm last Sunday. There is a sign, an old wood letter press board, with a list of fountain offerings but I'm not sure if it is a menu or part of the atmosphere. For sure egg creams, floats, malts, and milk shakes are available. Vanila and chocolate. And seltzer. A small counter and row of 5 or 6 stools were laden mechandise and novelties so I hesitated sitting as I placed my order for a chocolate malt. Presiding were Anna, an older white haired lady who apparently is responsible for making many of the chocolates, and the owner, a tall thin friendly enthusiast who seems to be in the business of recruiting other enthusiasts.
A spot on the counter was cleared slightly and a napkin placed, so I took my cue to sit and await my malt. The metal preparation container was served along with my fountain glass, so I got nearly 2 malts for my $3.50. I was eyeing a little pedestal bowl sitting in front of me which held a sampling of 4-6 cookies and chocolates which I didn't recall being on the counter when I first came in. There were so many novelties and jars and little boxes displayed, maybe I just didn't notice it. But the sampling was there out in the open, rather unusual, since everything else was either in a jar or case or wrapped. I enjoyed my malt pondering this while a few other customers purchased candies and milkshakes. As the straw noise announced the end of my malt, the gentleman placed a napkin in front of me with 2 different balls, obviously malted balls. One, light chocolate brown with dark speckles had several layers coating the malt ball center. Two different layers of chocolate and another layer of some coffee chocolate fusion. The other was a standard but very good malt ball. As I stood up to look around a bit, a small glass of seltzer was placed on the counter for me. It was a perfect refreshment to lighten the palate. And then I was offered a sample of milk chocolate covered caramel and pecans. I bought 1/2 lb of milk chocolate covered almonds ($9.99 a lb.) and left with my head spinning. Truly a candy store fantasy come alive.
I asked and was told they are reliably open 7 days from 11am to 7pm, and usually open until 9pm; but if there are still people there ordering fountain drinks and willing to sample and purchase sweets, the Be-Speckled Trout candy store man will keep serving it up (he said he was serving until midnight last Friday) with a smile and gleam in his eye. He must know how addictive his wares can be.
PS: If you are interested, I suggest visiting soon. It is such a small place that if the fountain takes off in popularity when the weather warms up, it will be a mad house in there.
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