Hi, everyone—it’s Katherine Curry. I’m back with the first of my ice cream posts, an eating adventure that, thanks in large part to Small Bites readers’ suggestions, is going to keep me very busy this summer. First up, Irvington’s The Cupcake Kitchen & Luncheonette, which serves Jane’s Ice Cream (Temptations Cafe in Nyack also serves Jane’s, with more flavors on hand, so I’ll be paying them a visit down the road, too).
Step inside this cheery, light-filled year-old luncheonette and be transported back to the 50s: mid-century modern chrome-trimmed tables and chairs, a luncheon counter and swivel stools, and a friendly, low-key atmosphere.
Owner Jennifer O’Connell’s intent is “American comfort food” and she serves breakfast every day until 11:30 a.m., lunch, ice cream and soda fountain treats (including egg creams), and — of course — cupcakes.
But enough about food (see my previous post, if you want to know more) – let’s talk ice cream. Jane’s Ice Cream, made upstate in the Hudson Valley, was founded in 1985, and uses fresh, local and organic ingredients whenever possible. I guess it’s kind of fancy-pants ice cream—Jane’s is served at old-school swanky Manhattan spots like Saks, The Algonquin, and The Carlyle, among others, and you can find it at select places in the Hudson Valley.
Ms. O’Connell opted to serve Jane’s Ice Cream because, as she puts it, “Ice cream is one of my major food groups, and I wanted to serve something natural, preservative free, and of the best quality. With all the ice cream available in the supermarket, why would you go the trouble of going out for ice cream unless it’s really special?”
It’s special stuff alright. One spoonful of this artisan ice cream, and I was hooked.
I’m fairly certain that the Killer Chocolate, with its intense chocolate flavor and dense pudding-like creaminess, is the ice cream they serve in heaven. (Please, please, if there is an afterlife, let there be ice cream in it.)
My eating companion on a recent visit to Cupcake was Roadfood author and Saveur contributing editor Michael Stern, whom I consider an authority on ice cream— and not just because he eats more of it than anyone else I know. After he had a scoop of Killer Chocolate, he said, “I cannot imagine a happier death than at the hands of Jane’s Killer Chocolate ice cream.”
For an equally intense experience, sample cappuccino Kahlua, which packs a true coffee wallop and is studded with nibs of an addictively crispy old-fashioned coffee brittle. Here’s a close-up where you can see the pieces of brittle.
Try, if you dare, eating the cappuccino in tandem with Killer Chocolate, an experience best reserved for thrill-seekers and caffeine junkies.
Those looking for something less stimulating might choose the sweet cookies & cream or strawberry.
The Cupcake Kitchen has eight flavors on hand – some are mainstays, like the luscious vanilla and Killer Chocolate, while others rotate in and out, depending on the season and Ms. O’Connell’s whim. During my recent visits, the case held vanilla, Killer Chocolate, peanut butter fudge, strawberry, cookies & cream, coconut almond joy—laced with shreds of real coconut, rocky road, and the cappuccino Kahlua.
I took a glance at Jane’s complete flavor list on their website: here’s hoping banana cookie and black raspberry chip are on The Cupcake Kitchen’s dance card sometime this summer.
Also worth nothing is the ideal temperature at which the ice cream is kept: once scooped into a bowl, our servings of ice cream were supple and spoon-ready. There’s nothing more frustrating for this ice cream lover than being served ice cream that’s too hard, requiring a torturous wait before diving in.
In addition to dishes and cones (choose from wafer, sugar and waffle cones, plus an edible sugar cone bowl for sundaes), there are sundaes, root beer and Coke floats, and a banana split, topped with real whipped cream. Toppings include sprinkles, nuts and coconut, regular or toasted. You can even get a milkshake. A milkshake made with Jane’s ice cream is almost too rich to contemplate. Almost.
The Scoop: Not a bad flavor in the case. Every flavor sampled was deeply flavorful, tasting of fresh cream and natural ingredients, the texture supple and lush: everything great ice cream should be.
Purists should start with the vanilla for its elegant simplicity. Chocolate lovers must try the Killer Chocolate. Peanut butter fudge is so dense that the ice cream itself is fudge-like, with a resonant peanut buttery kick and pieces of chewy, chocolate-y fudge.
Prices start at $3 for a single scoop ($3.75 for a double), sundaes are $4.75. Toppings are 25 cents each.
No matter the flavor, the ice cream experience here is top-notch: the owner knows and loves ice cream, and it shows.
Vanilla: Dense and creamy in texture, with a straightforward real vanilla flavor. Its simplicity could get a little monotonous if eaten plain, so this vanilla is a rich but appropriate vehicle for sundae toppings. Four (out of five) spoons.
Killer Chocolate: Everything chocolate ice cream should be, if you like an intense chocolate ice cream. Fans of a lighter chocolate ice cream should stick with Jane’s milk chocolate ice cream (not currently available at The Cupcake Kitchen). Five spoons.
Specialty Flavor: A tie between peanut butter fudge and cappuccino Kahlua. Five spoons for both.
If You Go:
The Cupcake Kitchen & Luncheonette, 100 Main St., Irvington, NY. 914-231-6261.
Hours: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday. 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday.