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Is Ici worth the wait?

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We were walking to the Elmwood Filippo's last night and passed by a VERY long line out the door for Ici's. We thought there must have been a special event going on to draw such a crowd, but did not see any special signage (there was a chair massager outside though).

Was this normal for a Saturday night? The line was still 20 deep after dinner too around 8:30. I've been to Sketch a couple of times, but never Ici's. Is it worth the wait?

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  1. That's pretty normal for a Saturday night, I'd say -- lots of people coming from nearby restaurants or the movie theater and getting ice cream. I like Ici ice cream a lot, but I try to go at times when the line isn't as long.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JasmineG

      Went tonight for the first time. The line was formidable, at least a 20 minute wait. I would say it was worth it. We sampled the concord grape sherbet ( exactly like Welch's grape juice, not a compliment), the peanut butter chocolate chip (more like shaved chocolate, delicious), and candied ginger ( very good ginger spice and generous candied bits) but ultimately settled on the coconut toffee and the malted vanilla. I'm a Mitchell's kinda girl but the coconut toffee was insanely good in the tightly rolled sugar cone. I was extremely happy with the saltiness--any good toffee needs some measure of salt, and the coconut flavor was subtle. My fiance's malted vanilla was smooth, with gentle malt flavor and lots of vanilla. Yum, yum, yum.

    2. Ici is worth trying. The style of ice cream is not to my taste. Too sweet, thick and heavy.

      1. i think ici is totally worth trying. they've finally really hit thier stride and thier flavors are spot on. go around dinner time if you want to avoid the line. and if they have concord grape sorbet-get it

        1. For me, it's pretty expensive considering the portions but the ice cream sandwiches are awesome.

          7 Replies
          1. re: tempest40

            I used to think Ici was too expensive, but I recently took the kids to an amusement park and spent more than $5 per cone for small cones of merely serviceable Ben and Jerry's ice cream. I don't know if it was the amusement park mark-up or if that's a typical B & J price, but I was happy to spend $2.75 ("kid's" cone price -one scoop) for thoughtfully made ice cream on those super-tasty 'n' lovely-textured cones. That being said, some of their flavors are too weird for me. The peach and habanero sorbet was...unsettling. I'm not in the sweet and hot camp, though, unless ginger or cinnamon are involved. I did like the concord grape sherbet, though.

            1. re: MollyGee

              Was it Discovery Kingdom? Those prices were outrageous! I'll take Ici anytime!

              1. re: prettypithy

                Yep.

              2. re: MollyGee

                A few places to consider with lower prices and nice handmade ice cream without the hoopala.

                Nieves Cinco de Mayo
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/434073

                Gelato Firenze (free size upgrade with theatre stub)
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/437051

                So toofacetious, did you go? Did you wait? What did you think?

                I think Ici has improved a lot since it opened but am still slightly resentful of their working out the kinks on customers, especially at those prices. I would stop by if it was relatively empty to check out the current flavors. I would never wait in line. Obviously their hype machine worked ... they had glowing reports in the press weeks before they opened. Ici to me still doesn't respect their customers. It is like they are doing you the favor of allowing you to purchase the product. While the service is better, they still need to get a friendlier staff in the front of the house ... if not warm ... and least not icy. That, even more than the prices, keeps me from rushing back.

                Great macarons though.

                -----
                Ici Ice Cream
                2948 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705

                1. re: rworange

                  The servers at Ici have been very nice when I've been there.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I think that you've been pretty lucky. Lately the service there hasn't been bad, but I've had downright rude service at Ici, though mostly it's been just incompetent and very very slow (which is one reason why the line is unnecessarily long). They have been better about this recently, though, I think that they've been learning.

                  2. re: rworange

                    I had an early dinner with a friend (Shanghai -- love that 3-for-$15 menu!), and then went to Urban Ore in West Berkeley. Since I was craving ice cream (as I often do after Chinese food), and Sketch was nearby, we headed over there. At the end of a long, hot Saturday, they were sold out, and I was disappointed, because I've never managed to try their ice cream. To console myself, my friend and I headed back to Alameda via Fruitvale and stopped in at Nieves Cinco de Mayo. As she handed me my change, I realized that *two* double scoops of fresh, handmade ice cream there set me back less than one scoop at Sketch or Ici.

              3. I love Ici, but what truly makes it great are the homemade waffle cones that have a warm chocolate surprise at the base of the cone. Normally I wouldn't wait behind 20 people for an ice cream, but I would if it comes in of those cones.

                1. Rumor has it that Ici will be giving away free ice cream between 4 and 9:30 PM on Tuesday September 4.
                  I've only been there a couple of times. Once, there was a mob in front of the store -- but half the mob already had their ice cream, and were standing around eating it. So it wasn't so bad, and the line moved along nicely.
                  I'm not a connoisseur of ice cream, but I enjoyed what I had -- definitely in the thick, creamy category. And the servers were very pleasant and efficient.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Joel

                    We went this weekend because we happened to be in the area and had the rose pistachio and the pink peppercorn. Son had the chocolate covered peanut and other son the malted vanilla. They were all good, but I think the pink peppercorn stood out as the one with the best balance of flavors. Mixed with the rose it was great. My husband said the cone truly was very good, complete with the dark chocolate. Also tried the lavendar strawberry, which was good, and the basil - fine, but I am nto a huge basil fan.

                    I didn't think the price was that bad. Ben and Jerry's charges way more for less - at least the one at Santana Row and I don't even like their ice cream.

                    The service was nice enough but it was very busy and the place is just very small. We waited a long time. Would I wait again? Maybe...if I am in the mood. My problem is that there are a lot of stores near me that have fantastic ice cream sections. If I watch and get ice cream fresh there, then I don't think Ici is that much better.

                    1. re: jsaimd

                      Who is going for the free ice cream today to celebrate their 1 year anniversary? Talk about lengthy lines! My fiance and I are headed over from Walnut Creek--free is free and Ici is Ici.

                  2. If the line isn't too long it is. Otherwise, it's not worth it. It's good ice cream but not so good that I'd wait 45 minutes. Maybe 10.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: rightstar

                      45 minutes would be highly unusual. We got our free ice cream in about 20 minutes. We selected honey saffron ice cream and chicory ice cream for our free scoops and then dug into our own pockets to grab one of the exorbitantly priced yet totally worth it earl grey and chocolates cookie ice cream sandwiches.

                    2. YES. some of the best sorbets i've ever had. the fruit flavors in them are really intense. the ice creams however have been inconsistent so just try before you buy!

                      1. I love the ice cream here; I'm a sucker for all these places that Chez Panisse alums start, with all their organic sustainable super-fresh quirky ingredients. But I want to shout out two things that haven't been mentioned:

                        1. All of their packaging (ice cream bowls, plastic water cups, even the silver wrappers on those crispy-good ice cream sandwiches) is compostable, and they collect it right in the store to compost it for you.

                        2. Oh my god, I love the service. They have two pitchers of water on hand at all times - one still, one sparkling. Who serves free sparkling water, all you can drink, outside of a very small number of very good restaurants? And the people behind the counter have excellent boundaries. Even the longest line out the door and down the street moves pretty quickly because they serve groups of friends whenever possible instead of always one customer at a time - but they focus ALL their attention on the group or person they are helping. Nobody gets to skip ahead or "just order one thing" while you are tasting all the flavors and making your decision. So the service never degrades into chaos.

                        If they weren't so clear (and polite!) about the rules, people would be pushing ahead, distracting the servers with more questions and more requests, and everyone would end up just trying desperately to get their attention to place an order, and it would be near impossible for the servers to remember who wanted to taste the pink peppercorn and who wanted to taste the strawberry sorbet and the caramelized cacao nib ice cream. And I have to admit that on a recent weekend - when a drunk couple was turned away because they came 15 minutes after the (10 pm) closing, and then made a series of guilt-tripping piteous faces at customers until someone let them in, and then line-jumped and stood there making rude comments about the chef who had the tough job of turning people away - I really enjoyed listening to my server politely and firmly refuse to help them until she was done with me. (It's almost too bad there were two other servers....)