All the best stories have a time peg, so we're kicking off our Scoops' out For Summer series with the newest addition to Portland's frozen confectionary scene: What's the Scoop?, which opened on North Williams Avenue just yesterday.
What's the Scoop?
4540 N Williams Ave., 971-266-1787, whatsthescooppdx.com
Price per scoop: $3.50
Most popular flavor: It was only the first day but, so far, it's bourbon toffee.
The people in front of me: Seemed to be friends of the owners, with their ice cream-covered children in tow.
Best for: A post Tasty N Sons nightcap.
It is monumentally unfair to critique a new eatery on its opening day, so for now, I'm only going to say nice things. This will be easy, because What's The Scoop? is a delight.
The store is on the ground floor of a huge new concrete apartment building, which is still under construction. On a "For Lease" sign outside, someone has graffitied "We need affordable housing," so I'm sure there's something very profound to say about gentrification and fancy ice cream stores there.
What's the Scoop?'s schtick is ice cream frozen with liquid nitrogen. I can't say it had any discernible effect on the taste or texture, but the store has a huge open kitchen, so I bet it looks bad-ass when they're actually making it.
A tasting case that's separate from the ordering counter is another new thing. There's number service, so instead of waiting in line while one annoying kid tastes every. single. flavor. you can chill out until it's your turn to order. I'll reserve endorsement until I see how it functions when serious service begins, but I like it in theory, at least.
The menu walks the line between adult- and kid-friendly really well. Notably, there are multiple flavors featuring liquor. The bourbon toffee one I sampled was not messing around; it was strong enough to incite flashbacks of being 16 and tragically shitfaced, which is a neural relationship Mr. Beam and I will share forever.
Nevertheless, this really isn't the sophisticated sort of ice cream parlour angling for the Lucky Peach crowd. All the flavors I tried were tooth-achingly sweet—which is how I like 'em—and aerated enough that you can expect to get plenty on your face, hands and table in the process of gobbling them down. (OK, I'm going to make one criticism: accessible napkins, please. My dining partner and I looked like the closing shot of a bukakke film by the time we were done eating).
As you can see from the photo above, the waffle cones are comically large. They're super crispy and the ends are plugged with chocolate, which adds to the messiness, but also the fun. Still, a spoon is recommended. We sampled a scoop of burnt sugar and one of brown butter almond brittle, which were both as decadent as they sound. The former was especially good, like an ice creamified creme brulee shell.
With nearby Pix Patisserie slated to move out of the 'hood, I don't think it's too early to predict that What's the Scoop? will become the go-to dessert spot for the expanding North Williams restaurant strip. Say what you will about gentrification, it's a step up from Suzy Qs at the Wonder Hostess Thrift Store.