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ICI, at last ... ICI, at last ... Sunday, ICI, at last

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  1. Yes indeed, Ici has finally opened and I found myself ponying up to the lovely cold case just two hours after they had opened. The decor is simple yet bright and the flavors are listed on either side of the shop. There were some small cakes that looked picture perfect and I'll soon be giving one a try. They also had a number of cookies and chocolates available that all looked amazing.

    Still, I was "la" for one reason only, to try the ice cream. I ordered a small scoop of the Blue Bottle Espresso ice cream on a sugar cone. I was handed a slender elegant cone that was very lightly dusted with a bit of sugar and nestled atop was a scoop of their coffee ice cream, richly speckled with fine bits of ground espresso. It was delicious and not too sweet. Combined with the delicate crunch of the cone, Ici's offering is not as dense as Sketch's version, but certainly not airy. The flavor of the coffee was not as intense as I would've thought from the use of Blue Bottle's excellent espresso, but it was still well perfumed and slightly stronger than the Three Twin's coffee ice cream I recently tried.

    Despite a bit of the opening day jitters on some of the faces of the staff, the chef/owner and everyone at Ici seemed to be very well prepared and based on the crowd that was there while I waited to order, I think they're certainly off to a great start. As I strolled down College Avenue and enjoyed my ice cream cone, I enjoyed the flavor and texture of the cone and ice cream more and more. As I got to the end of the experience, I was very pleasantly surprised to find a little something extra at the bottom of the cone...but I'll let you all discover that for yourselves.

    a sante,


    Well Morton, now that Ici is open, the way is paved for the Chowhound ice cream crawl, n'est-ce pas?

    1. Terrific, well now we have reports on almost all of the opening day flavors except chocolate and vanilla ... anyone tried those?


      Seems like the flavor in this ice cream is subdued, some might say ... and have ... weak.

      The roundup to date:

      wildflower honey (+
      )blackberry (+)
      Blue Bottle espresso (+)
      coconut sorbet (+)
      raspberry verbena (+)
      strawberry (+ but needs work)
      peach-apricot (one +, one -)
      chocolate chip (-)
      honey lavendar (-)
      chocolate/vanilla sandwich (+)

      Oh, maybe a thumbs up for the chocolate/vanilla after all since someone liked the sandwich.

      I'm curious, Curtis. Was it just the little scoop perched on top of the cone or was there ice cream in the cone also?

      3 Replies
      1. re: rworange

        The cone was filled with ice cream all the way to the bottom (except for the surprise ending), just don't ask me how they managed that feat given the dimensions.

          1. re: Aaron

            Hmmm, between yours, mine and math_ewe's experiences, I seem to have had the best luck. Still, it's early in the game so we'll hope Ici's consistency rises in the weeks to come. BTW, my cone might've been sticky were it not for the tissue in which it was wrapped. Suffice to say, I finished it in the driver's seat of my car with nary a drip or crumb on my jacket :)

      2. Tried to go today but alas... they were closed (!) so we drove over to Carvel's for our labor day ice cream fix.
        We went to Sketch yesterday - bought 2 lbs of coffee ice cream and 2 lbs of peach with 2 almond lace cookies and 2 honey lavender shortbread - total cost $40 - loved the owners and will probably go again despite the cost. The coffee ice cream was just okay but the peach was out of this world.

        1. As a (Fairfax) Scoop fan relocated to Oakland, I've been waiting for months for Ici to open. I find Sketch overrated and overpriced, so I had high hopes for Ici.

          First off, I found the cone, the rim of which jutted above the level of the ice cream--so it was the first thing I tasted--to be too sweet. I sampled the blackberry, which tasted berry-like but was too sweet for me and indistinguishable as blackberry. It registered more like bluebery. The peach-apricot held an initial apricot flavor that was overpowered by citrus notes.

          My fiancee tried the vanilla-honey (too sweet for her, and for me) and the chocolate (which she found subdued in flavor, like a frozen yogurt). The cones crumbled and were sticky with excess sugar. The surprise at the bottom was, unfortunately, about the best part of our Ici experience.

          1. Thanks for your post. Mary was kind enough to phone and let us know she opened on Sunday. I'm planning to head over today after 11am. Thanks for the recs.

            1. I stopped by there just an hour ago after lunch. Unfortunately, they don't have any cones today, so after trying a sample of the chocolate chip (which I liked better than the other person who mentioned it) I had the chocolate/vanilla sandwich, which was terrific. Even though it's a bit small (and at $4.25, pricier than my lunch at Gordo Taqueria down the street!) the size is misleading - it's so rich and flavorful that a small portion is enough.

              The place reminds me of Teacakes in Emeryville. The decor is really cute, precious, delicate, dollhouse-like, feminine, whatever you want to call it.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Agent 510

                All this talk is making me miss the dearly departed Botts, which was just down the street from the new Ici. Botts had, along with great ice cream, fabulous wallpaper featuring fields dotted with grazing Jersey cows. The story goes that when the original owners sold Botts, it was on condition that the new owner promise to keep the wallpaper.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  Sniff. I grew up on Botts ice cream. I still miss that place.

                  1. re: JasmineG

                    As did I. Quite literally, as I spent the first five years of my life living walking/stroller distance from Botts. I had my first ice cream cone there, which in a true toddler rite of passage, ended up more on the outside than the inside. I don't have the sense memory of some people, but I remember the dark chocolate as being very good, as was the fresh coconut.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      But so long as we're waxing nostalgic, who's with me in missing McCallum's on Solano? Their hot fudge was awesome, as was the nectarine ice cream they made in the late summer.

                      1. re: lexdevil

                        I miss the plaid tam o'shanters and mango ice cream. I want chocolate dip like they used to have. Has any one here ever had the McCallum's SINK?

              2. I'm with you Lexdevil!! McCallum's fresh peach was to die for!

                2 Replies
                1. re: chewonthis

                  So right. A peach float was my standard there!

                  1. re: lexdevil

                    And while they didn't have the best ice cream in town, they did have the best hot fudge.

                2. Went back to give Ici another shot after the How Berkeley Can You Be? parade, and the place was doing brisk business on that sunny Sunday afternoon. They were out of cones this time around, but the black mission fig flavor was a winner. Not too sweet, and the ice cream was--as I neglected to mention last time--creamy and pleasantly dense. They managed to capture not only the flavor but also the texture of the flesh of perfectly ripe figs. Delicious!

                  1. It really is good flavor and what i really like is how almost everything they use is biodegradable. like their cups are actually made out of corn so they break down instead of plastic and they make the ice cream completely from scratch, like from the eggs and pumpkins there scratch, its incredible, really good ice cream, bombes and ice cream sandwiches. they change flavors fairly often to keep everything fresh so stop in sometime! i love it

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: redsox122988

                      Sketch also makes everything from scratch.

                      Recyclable dishes and spoons are nice, but they need smaller spoons.