Tara's Organic Ice Cream - Berkeley
I just went to Tara's Organic Ice Cream, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The flavors I got (Ginger Caramel and Turkish Coffee) were different but accessible (i.e. I could actually eat a whole scoop). For me, the flavors were well balanced. Not so subtle that without knowledge of the flavor I would go: "Is this vanilla?" ; not so over done that it screamed "I am coffee! You are now eating coffee grounds, and you will enjoy it!"
I also enjoyed it over my one and only trip to Ici's. However, this comparison could be biased based on the following reasons:
1. It was a beautiful warm day when I tried Tara's.
2. I could easily find parking.
3. There was no wait.
4. I could try different flavors without a huge crowd rolling their eyes behind me.
So, as the days warm up, I highly recommend giving this place a try.
I really enjoyed my one trip to Tara's. I had a lovely lemon blueberry, and completely agree with your assessment that the flavors were just assertive enough but didn't hit me over the head. My parents live around the corner, so I have a good excuse to return.
OTOH, I really don't understand the draw of Ici. I've been several times, and have occasionally had flavors that I thought were good. Over all though, I don't care for the texture and find the flavor unbalanced. I seem to be in the minority on this one.
Not a minority of one as far as ICI. The only ICI flavor I like is not sold at the shop. At Cafe Saint Honore, they have ICI make a special flavor for them out of their coffee, Frog Fuel.
It is the best coffee ice cream I've had in a long time. Instead of the usual wimpy ICI flavors, this is full-bodied and so satisfying. IMO, that disproves all the nonsense about ICI's high fat content muting the flavor. They could make their ice cream taste like something if they wanted to. I don't get why they don't want to. That and always a big scoop of attitude at the shop or farmers market ... who needs them?
So, I don't get it either ... and I'm not trying anymore. Cafe Saint Honore sells a half dozen ICI flavors, so you can buy it there without the hassle or lines ... and from some genuinely nice people. Still, other than the Frog Fuel nothing has wowed me and the blood orange was actually disgusting.
I agree with all of the OP's four point's except number one ... I've enjoyed Tara's even on cold nights.
I also enjoy Tara's more than Ici. The texture of the ice cream more creamy, and the flavors are more balanced. The black sesame ice cream is great, and while I don't usually enjoy herb flavored ice creams I really like the basil ice cream.
The staff is really friendly even when it is busy, and they don't seem to mind answering a lot of questions and giving out samples.
The only thing I like better at Ici are the cones, which are more delicate and have that really good chocolate on the bottom. One day I am going to go to Ici to buy cones, buy a pint at Tara's and go home to make a great ice cream cone.
re: Robert Lauriston
I had Tara's for the first time today. I really enjoyed the texture. I tried the eggnog (so so flavor for me), and the lemon blueberry (excellent) but ended up getting a cup of the molasses (very nice).
Ironically, the group would have ended up at Ici (not my first choice) but for they were closed, and I think all 8 (or 10) of us enjoyed what we had.
Tried this the other day. Molasses, orange cardamom, and allspice were all very good. I liked the texture a lot. Among the ultra-premium ice cream shops, I rank Tara's #2, after Humphrey Slocombe. I don't see why people line up at Ici with this place four blocks away.