My first experience with Salt and Straw was in LA, and I’ve also enjoyed their soft serve in Portland. Other than their soft serve, which I found pretty fantastic, I’ve found that their flavors are very hit or miss. I’d fallen hard for their Freckles woodblock chocolate, enjoyed their almond brittle with salted ganache, and their honey lavendar was sweet and strong. And of course there was the black olive brittle and goat cheese, which left me declaring that if I could eat that flavor every single day, I could give up other ice cream forever!
Yup. I said that. Me.
But then they’ve got other flavors that I wasn’t so fond of, and the pricing is on the higher side, and in general, they prefer their ice cream significantly less sweet than I enjoy.
So with a lot of caveats, I told my cousin Michelle we should give it a shot – but I would completely understand if she and her husband didn’t enjoy it at all or want to get anything. Better to undersell these things, right? Especially with someone with a stated preference for New England ice cream.
When we arrived at 8 p.m. on a Monday, there was an amazingly long line outside. They’re great about letting you try flavors, but it was very crowded and you’ll need to advocate for whatever you want over the din. But the service is great when you finally get there.
Here’s what I tried:
Carrot Cake Batter w/ Candied Pralines – The major spice on the pralines was an aftertaste, almost too much, but really nice. This was really fun, probably my favorite of the night, and I really appreciated that they made it gluten-free. (Yay for gluten-free cake batter!)
Green Fennel and Maple – This was surprisingly sweet and creamy, a very forward flavor. I really like the levels of both the fennel and maple here. Unfortunately it had a lot of ice crystals.
Beecher’s Cheese – The cheese was fine, but the peppercorn toffee inside was super peppery and sticks around for a while…it kind of made me cough. It was too much for me.
Cloudforest Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies and Cream – This isn’t creamy – the Nutella was actually kind of chunky. I had high hopes, but this one was just so-so.
Rachel’s Raspberry Ginger Beer – This is a sorbet, and I found it pretty refreshing and fun as someone who loves ginger beer. I did find a few ice crystals in this flavor.
So, in sum, Salt & Straw again provides some gourmet flavors, but there shouldn’t be ice crystals in them, so that was a real bummer. Overall I had two very good flavors (sans ice crystals), two duds and one very pleasant summer experience (sans ice crystals). Definitely worth a try, but the experience confirmed for me that there’s still a lot of room for improvement here. I’m not sure if they just serve too many people or what, and I wish the flavors were consistently great.
Have you visited Salt & Straw? Or ordered their ice cream online? I’d love to hear your feedback!
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