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Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream, SF report w/ pics

We went to Humphry Slocombe ice cream Sun 1/4/09. The tall guy said try every flavor so you can fall in love with them.

I tried:
Balsamic caramel -good
Secret Breakfast - good
Thai chili lime sorbet -ok
Blue Bottle Vietnamese coffee - good

I picked:
Single of Secret Breakfast & Guinness gingerbread $3.25 - fine tasting.

Hubby picked:
Single of Secret Breakfast & Blue Bottle Vietnamese coffee $3.25 - most popular combination tall guy said.

Total $6.50. We paid in Cash, not sure if they take credit cards.

Kids (1 flavor) $2.25
Single (1-2 flavors) $3.25
Double (2-3 flavors) $4.50
Pints $7.5

Right now No Sundaes $6, Toppings .75, Cones.

Valrohna fudge brownies $2.5
Housemade chocolate chip cookies .75c

Winter Hrs:
Closed Mon
Tu-Sun 12-8

One unisex bathroom. Somethings wrong with the light in there - the tall guy knows about the problem.

Location: Next to Sundance Coffee. Harrison between 23 & 24th St.

My pics:

Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream
2790 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA 94110

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  1. I went today (second visit there) and had the maple walnut. Was really wonderful.

    1. That brownie is just swell. It is brownie classic. It is not too anything. It is moist with a nice cake and good chocolate flavor with background hints of vanilla.

      The chocolate chip cookie is good too. It is thin and taste like the dough in many frozen cooikie dough ice creams. However, because it is so thin the chocolate chips are not accentuated.

      I had the secret breakfast ice cream which was great. I like rum raisin and appreciated this boozy ice cream. The fudgsicle ice cream was nice which tasted like a good fudgesicle in scoop form.

      They also had red hot banana which was a nice banana ice cream with red hots in it. I don't like that particular candy so passed on it.

      The people who run this place are just so nice and pleasant. I'll definately be back. RIght now they are at the top of my list as best ice cream in the Bay Area.

      Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream
      2790 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA 94110

      1. I liked the Valrhona fudgesicle flavor the best, and the malted dulce de leche was good as well, although it could've been more strongly flavored. The balsamic salted caramel was good, though, if a bit odd, a bit too sweet (designed to be that way, I'm sure). Maple walnut was standard. I'd like to try the secret breakfast and Blue Bottle coffee flavors.

        1. They are selling 1 of the 3 of sundaes now. Who's tried it?

          Tin Roof:
          Vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, frosted peanuts, maldon salt. $6

          1 Reply
          1. re: hhc

            I've had it--It's yummy!
            My favorite is Secret Breakfast, which is too tempting for me to keep in the refrigerator overnight--I simply can't resist it!
            I like the Malted Dulce de Leche & Salted Caramel as well as their Chocolate! My husband likes the Oolong.

          2. I keep reading about that secret breakfast flavor all over the place, but what *is* it?!

            2 Replies
            1. re: indigirl

              Secret Breakfast is, I believe, bourbon ice cream with caramelized corn flakes in it, sort of like grape-nut ice cream I remember from Billings Hospital Cafeteria in the '50's, but with a boozy creamy base, like rum raisin. It's subtle and very satisfying if you like creamy/boozy, which I do.
              Especially from the refrigerator with a spoon standing up in the kitchen!
              That stuff is dangerous!

              1. re: plainfood

                Thanks for demystifying... I'll have to taste it, though truthfully I can't say I'm a great fan of the boozy-creamy. But I do love corn flakes!

            2. I stopped by on Saturday. Service was very friendly despite it being somewhat busy. I tried Strauss yogurt, Valrohna fudgesicle, maple walnut and honey thyme. I liked them all, but honey thyme stood out from those as being different and a nice balance of flavors.

              Ended up with Balsamic caramel and Olive oil. Both nice. The texture of the balsamic caramel was very soft and a bit icy, but I did like the bitter/sweet/acidic flavor a lot. Theolive oil was very good - a bit citrusy, creamy and gentle. Yumm...

              1. I was there on Sunday - tried the Secret Breakfast (I didn't realize there was alcohol before I bit in - I hate alcohol, especially rum, so that was a downer for me, but my companion enjoyed her scoop); Salt and Pepper (tastes JUST as it sounds); settled on a scoop of the Strauss Yogurt. While everything tasted fine (a little too icy in texture), nothing really stood out to me. I suppose part of the reason is because I came in with high hopes (hoping this was similar to Scoops in LA). I probably wouldn't make a special trek out here, but if I was in the area, it could be a stop. Employees here are very friendly.

                3 Replies
                1. re: alina555

                  Yeah, Scoops is a very high bar to overcome. Love that place. Love the four daily vegan flavors that change every day. Love the flavors like avocado pale ale (shockingly good!) Still I might hit up HS when I'm back in town. Seems interesting.

                  1. re: choctastic

                    HS does allow generous tasting. So if someone selects a flavor not to their taste, they only have themselves to blame for that. If you don't like booze in ice cream and then ding a flavor fot that ... especially one so widely reported for having booze in it ... again, seems not to be a valid criticism. I've never encountered iciness there.

                    I am sure that Scoops, like every ice cream place in the world, has flavors that are hits and misses to personal tastes. I'd actually drive there tommorrow if you told me otherwise.

                    Not every flavor at HS sets my chow bells off .. but there are many that do ... and more so than any other Bay Area ice cream place.

                    The point of all this being that I hope you are not discouraged from trying out HS.

                    1. re: choctastic

                      Mmmmm. Scoops Brown Bread! My brother lives down the street from LACC, so I'm always happy to visit him because I know there will be tastiness in store.

                  2. I read on cookingwithamy that HS now has bacon brittle for a topping. Anyone try it yet?

                    1. First of all, the people here rule. I often would like to taste everything possible rather than actually getting an item, and gladly pay the equivalent if not more, and not only did I feel comfortable asking, I was encouraged! I came with my girlfriend and I ended up getting a single of 'Blue Bottle' and 'Secret Breakfast' and she got 'Secret Breakfast' and 'Valhrona Fudgesicle.' We both loved the Fudgesicle so we decided to take a pint home, and the total was someting like $14. I didnt realize they are cash only, so we could only come up with $11 and he was totally cool about it, and gave it to us. At first we objected and tried to give the pint back, but he insisted. Anyway, to the important stuff. I tasted...

                      Pistachio Bacon. Im a sucker for sweet/savory things, so this was def for me. It was pistachio upfront with a nice finish of a smokey meatieness. I think, its just fun to taste, but I wouldnt want a cup.

                      Balsamic Carmel. I was really excited about this one, and it definitely didn't disappoint. Nice, not overly sweet caramel flavor with a nice sweet and tart surupie taste from the balsamic.

                      Blue Bottle Coffee. I think this was the only slight disappointment. I suppose I have relatively high standards and expectations from a coffee icecream and especially with the blue bottle name behind it. It seems that most are done with a extracted espresso or coffee, and I think this was done with grounds. Maybe Im wrong, it just tasted a little "separated"

                      Secret Breakfast. Super stoked on this one. This was for sure the sweetest of the bunch. A nice sweet bourbon flavor with some nice chewy crunchy bits. Great texture on the cereal, but I wish there was more.

                      All in all, I love this place. Their flavors are subtle and balanced. Nothing is overpowering when it shouldnt be, and appropriate amount of sweetness on each flavor.

                      1. I ran into the Blue Bottle owner and his kid having a scoop just now. I asked, hey, when are you gonna have HS ice cream at the cafe? (Meaning, the Blue Bottle coffee flavor.) He told me that Secret Breakfast affogado's are on their way!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: sarahlefton

                          Yes, there are Secret Breakfast affogatos at the Ferry Building Blue Bottle shop. It's two generous scoops of almost-too-sweet ice cream and a double shot of almost-too-bitter espresso ($5.50).

                        2. Has anyone mentioned that Humphry Slocombe has had foie gras ice cream sandwiches for sale this week? I was treated to a taste of the ice cream and it was quite good. I was told the ice cream sandwiches themselves are quite small (the ice cream is sandwiched between ginger snaps) and cost $4. Don't know if they have any more today!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Atomica

                            I got one of those. Tasted like brown butter and salted caramel. Couldn't taste the foie. It was good but given the price I'd get a dish of ice cream instead.

                            I liked the ice cream the best of the ultra-premium places (Bi-Rite Creamery, Ici, Sketch). I was particularly pleased with the wide variation in textures and with how it was the perfect temperature, neither icy nor melting.

                          2. In the interest of science, I opened my ice cream season by visiting Ici, Sketch, Bi-Rite and Humphry Slocombe last week.

                            Ici was definitely the least of the four. Better than any ice cream I've had until about three years ago, but the flavours are comparatively muted. Maybe a good choice for those who want the new crazy flavours in a fairly traditional ice cream -- and it's the cheapest of the four at $2.85 for a single cup (though I think the SF places have larger "singles" than the Berkeley places, but I'm a poor judge of volume).

                            The other three places all have their relative pros and cons. Bi-Rite still seems inconsistent from visit to visit and flavour to flavour, except the roasted banana, which always rocks. But the lowish butterfat content means they can't get that smooth texture, and on this visit it seemed somewhat watery.

                            Sketch has an even lower butterfat content, but the wonders of their soft-serve technology mean you do get that smoothness to go with the intense flavour (the saffron I had was deep). It's admittedly a product that won't cut it if you're craving something heavy. It's also the most expensive scoop at $3.50, and the price goes up if you get the toppings. I always get the toppings.

                            Humphry Slocombe defies generalisation. The tastes I had seemed varied a lot in taste and texture, and arguably quality as well -- or maybe with such adventurous combinations, there are bound to be some that don't agree with everyone. But the Secret Breakfast and the beet sorbet we settled on were spot-on.

                            Sketch gets scoop of the week. I suspect I might find Humphry more interesting long-term because of their range. That's conjectural at this point, but hopefully won't be for long.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: bradluen

                              Thanks for the comparative assessment. I think that the high butterfat content of Ici contributes to the muted flavors -- you need some fat for flavor, but too much and it blankets your tongue and muffles the flavors.

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                Which is why everything at Mitchell's tastes like cream and not much else.

                                1. re: Atomica

                                  I have to agree with Atomica's Mitchell's comment. I really like the idea but to my taste, their ice cream is like eating cold, sweetened butter.

                            2. I finally made it there recently. Tasted the shocking pink hibiscus beet sorbet (nice but I didn't want a whole scoop -- maybe in warmer weather), secret breakfast (better than expected but still not my thing), valrhona fudgesicle (aptly named) & ended up ordering the balsamic caramel, which I loved. I tasted more balsamic than caramel & kept wondering what it would be like w/ a stronger caramel flavor, but I'm not complaining!

                              Also I was charmed by the petite water glasses. I'll be back...

                              1. The name of this place reminds me of the old British sitcom "Are You Being Served". :)

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: chilihead2006

                                  Yes, in fact the owner stated in an interview that the name is a combination of two of the characters from "Are You Being Served", Mr. Humphries and Mrs. Slocombe.

                                  1. re: Jim

                                    No kidding!! Now that's funny. :)

                                    Great sitcom...back when BBC knew how to make great television. We're gonna have to check this place out.

                                2. The poppyseed kumquat is really swell. Sort of like a muffin where the poppyseed flavor doesn't dominate. However, they add a nice crunch and the pieces of kumquat in the ice cream are so good, a nice foil to the sweet ice cream.

                                  They finally came up with vanilla. Actually it is something like v&$)O#illa. I guess they got sick of people asking for the cursed vanilla.

                                  IMO, it is nice and demonstrates that it is just not about unusual flavors. I added a little of the 20 year old balsamic as a topping. My first taste I thought I wasn't going to like it, but it adds a good ascidic contrast. Had a little McEvoy olive oil with this. You would think that olive oil ice cream with a balsamic vinegar drizzle would be a good match. However, for me it didn't do a thing and the vanilla was much better with it I'm not a fan of McEvoy olive oil anyway, so that could be it. Didn't taste the oil in the ice cream, it just gave it a more unctuous texture.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: rworange

                                    I thought they always have vanilla because their sundaes feature vanilla (of course, one could sub another flavor, but I like vanilla in my sundaes).

                                    1. re: rworange

                                      poppyseed kumquat is greatness.

                                      i have a feeling some of these flavors change up from day to day al depending on how liberal they are pouring in the ingredients. i've also noticed many of the flavors taste very similar, and get lost when mixed in a cup. boccolone porsciutto, olive oil, salted licorice, even the balsamic caramel could be hard to distinguish from one another. secret breakfast is also similar, unless they go heavy on the bourbon that day, but for the most part, it was mostly enjoyable for the texture. all said and done though, this place beats the pants off bi-rite.

                                    2. Not that I've had all that much home made ice cream, but HS stuff tastes... home made. I ate Blue Bottle and coconut sorbet, both of which were very nice, tasted Thai Chile Lime (didn't work for me), Yuzu (interestingly tart, I'd try it again,), McEvoy (tasty, but not distinctive), maybe another or two that I don't remember. I like the clean and simple flavors, it's not overly sweet, great texture. I'm not even a big ice cream eater, but I look forward to going back and bringing the kids.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: maigre

                                        Sounds like they switch up their flavours too which is great -- anyone know how often? Maigre mentions three that I don't remember seeing on my visit to HS at the end of March (Thai chile lime and yuzu would have warranted a taste for sure).

                                        1. re: grayelf

                                          I believe they swap in new flavors as often as inspiration strikes them.

                                          1. re: grayelf

                                            Their website lists the entire current list of flavors, a smallish subset of which is available on a given day.

                                        2. I am partial to the Tin Roof Sundae because I love the frosted peanuts.

                                          My favorite flavors so far are the malted dulce de leche, chocolate passionfruit & the coconut sorbet.

                                          I believe they are making the best small batch ice creams in the Bay Area - my only frustration is that I miss out on a lot of flavors because I can never get there early enough. Much like Brad, I have done an ice cream crawl for comparison. . . Ici, Tara's, Bi-Rite, Sketch, Fairfax Scoop and, of course, H.S. -
                                          1) Humphry Slocombe
                                          2) Fairfax Scoop
                                          3) Sketch (not only for their ice creams but for their astoundingly good baked goods and candies)
                                          4) Tara's
                                          5) Ici (I find their flavors and texture lacking)
                                          6)Bi-Rite (I just don't understand the hype - texture, flavor and general joy of ice cream consumption - just does not work for me for some reason . .I am truly puzzled by the fanaticism with which people regard this place)

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: pastryqueen

                                            Well, if you are going as far as fairfax, there's a new kid in town ... or the Bay Area ... Lala's Creamery

                                          2. Father's Day indulgence with daughter.
                                            Maggie Mudd, no line chocolate and mango cone . Both ok mango less mango-y and chocolate less chocolate-y than Trader Joes.
                                            Humphry Slocombe. 6-7 inline balsamic caramel and breakfast secret. Really couldn't tell one from the other, except for corn flakes.
                                            Both places good creamy ice cream Drip factor win to MM with one drop on my shirt front.
                                            Bi-Rite creamery disqualified with 16-20 in line backed up to Delores.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: wolfe

                                              Last night, even tho it was VERY COLD AND WINDY, at 11 pm there was a VERY LONG line at Bi-Rite. I've wondered how they can keep enough freezers there, enough in stock to accommodate all those people. It would not be worth that kind of wait for me.