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Jul 19, 1999 03:48 PM

Custard Beach at Grand Central

  • d

After never managing to try out the downtown outlet of
this famed destination, I was happy to hear they had
opened up a stand in Grand Central's fledgling food
court. I'm in an ice cream mood anyway since I just
tried Egg Cream Dairy Ice Cream (small review in "The
Best...") so I dragged a couple of cohorts a few blocks
east to check it out.

Surprisingly, they advertise their product, at least at
this location, as "French Ice Cream," and not as
"frozen custard." This has already come up on this
list and I won't belabor it...the stuff sure seems like
ice cream to me though--the only difference seeming to
be that they keep their freezers at a higher
temperature and serve a near-melted product. Sad to
say I wasn't entirely impressed. There were only
several flavors of ice cream (custard) --vanilla,
chocolate, peanut butter, and raspberry (also a bunch
of ice flavors and frozen yogurts). Based on a
chowhound recommendation I tried the vanilla. Also had
some peanut butter. It was certainly good enough, but
the out-of-body experience I was hoping for didn't
come. The vanilla tasted white, and not overwhelmingly
of vanilla. The peanut-butter was pretty nice, but
both were a bit too sweet for my taste. One colleague
got the raspberry, and said "it was good, but those are
the sweetest raspberries I've ever had."

Maybe this outlet doesn't live up to its famed downtown
counterpart of yesteryear? Anyway, in this
ice-cream-challenged town I'm still looking for
something to get excited about.


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  1. Okay, so I finally got around to checking out the new
    Grand Central Branch of Custard Beach. Most of the
    signage did indeed say "French Ice Cream," but I did
    notice the notation, in tiny letters: "aka frozen
    custard." The only explanation I can think of for the
    use of this misnomer is that most people know that
    "French vanilla" ice cream has eggs in it, yet does
    not resemble flan or the frozen contents of a Boston
    Cream donut. However, I'm not sure if eggs are
    traditional ingredients in all ice creams in France.

    I tried the vanilla again to confirm my memory of it
    as being really, really good. The custard did not
    taste "white" to me. I will agree that the vanilla
    flavoring is not overwhelming, but I don't consider
    this to be a fault. What the flavor reminded me of was
    the homemade ice cream we used to make in summer camp:
    a clear creamy flavor with no "off-ness." The
    absolutely velvety texture, on the other hand, is
    really what distinguishes custard from ice cream. The
    reason they keep the coolers warmer than they do at
    Baskin-Robbins is to preserve this texture without the
    tiny, gritty ice crystals that appear in most ice
    creams, and to allow you to taste the flavors more
    clearly without freezing your taste buds.

    But I agree that some of the flavors did look overly
    melted. And I seem to remember the chocolate being
    awfully sweet, and preferring the vanilla. Haven't
    tried the ices. I prefer Veniero's.