OK, we've put this off long enough. We're hitting an ice cream store a day every day in July, and eventually we had to go back...
Salt & Straw
2035 NE Alberta St., 208-3867; and 838 NW 23rd Ave., 271-8168, saltandstraw.com.
Price per scoop: $3.75
Most popular flavour: Sea salt with caramel ribbon
The people in front of me: A teenage couple getting waaaay inappropriate with the PDA.
Best for: People with a lot of time on their hands; scenesters.
Believe it or not, the most shit-stirring thing this newspaper has done recently was not photoshop our publisher's wife into a field of pot, taking money from a man smoking a j. It was writing a snarky review of Salt & Straw—an ice cream shop which has cultivated a fanatical following since opening its first store less than a year ago. We even received inter-office hate mail.
Here's what I want to say about all that: Arts and Culture Editor Martin Cizmar may have written that article, but he did so with the blessing of the full WW arts and culture staff. Some of us like the ice cream better than others, but the general sentiment was shared by all.
I've written about my distaste for the company's rather relentless and, in my opinion, calculated, brand creation and PR campaign before, so I'm not going into that again.
But, as I have also said before, I actually think Salt & Straw makes good ice cream. I think it has made some poor flavors, but the ice cream itself is undeniably high quality: the ingredients are top notch, it's well made and the flavors that do work are delightful.
Nevertheless, I hadn't been back since some very early visits to the original Alberta store and some free pints WW received in the mail. In the mean time, S&S's popularity has just gone batshit crazy, and there's a permanent line out the door at both its locations. The ice cream's good, but Jesus Christ sheeple, it's not that good. No ice cream is that good.
I hit the newer northwest location, conveniently strolling distance from the WW office (on the way, I passed a conspicuously empty Alotto Gelato), around 7:30 pm on a weeknight, and joined the stupid line, repeating the mantra: "You're being paid to eat ice cream. This is your job. Other people have to dig holes and clean toilets for a living. You get to eat ice cream. This is fine." This helped alleviate some of the frustration of waiting for 20 minutes in the hot, sticky waffle batter air just for one scoop of bloody ice cream.
I was pleasantly surprised to find the store has toned down the "wacky" flavors since my previous visits, which is a huge plus. There was nothing with baked beans, or bacon, or any of that nonsense. That said, in September, the store will be featuring an ice cream with "toasted foie gras marshmallows and smoked vanilla ice cream ribboned with veal chocolate sauce" and that is just fucking obnoxious and I hope it is plagued by a swarm of angry vegans.
I purchased a scoop of red velvet ice cream. It had a mild cream cheese flavour with red velvet cake crumbs scattered through it. Honestly, after all this build up, there isn't a lot to report about the product itself. It was thick and had a lovely, smooth texture, but a bit lacking in the taste department. The waffle cone was the best part—toasty and fresh—though it overwhelmed the ice cream a smudge.
Anyway, I won't be back—at least until the line shrinks—but I don't begrudge others lining up if that's what they wanna do with their evenings. There are worse ways to spend half an hour than patronizing a local business.
Day 16: Pix Patisserie
Day 15: Caffe Pallino
Day 14: Alotto Gelato
Day 13: YoCream
Day 12: Ruby Jewel
Day 11: The Waffle Window
Day 10: Alma Chocolate
Day 9: j. Gelati
Day 6: Cool Harry's Yogurt
Day 5: Ohana Hawaiian Cafe
Day 4: Roses Ice Cream
Day 2: Oregon Ice Works
Day 1: What's the Scoop?