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Ice Cream Soda --boston and north

  • s

Hi all,

I searched this board for "ice cream soda" and stopped looking after the first three pages of results showed lots of "ice cream" and a few "soda" (almond and grapefruit) and even "cream" and "icing" but not a SINGLE "ice cream soda"!

Warning -- whining ahead:

Doesn’t anybody make ice cream sodas any more? I know Turner’s in Provincetown makes good ones and the place to the left of Hobb’s Popcorn at Salem Willows does pretty good … but there’s gotta be others … They aren’t on Friendly’s menu any more. The two independent ice cream shops in my small town don’t have them on the menu. One shop CLAIMED to make one, but when I saw them pour the ingredients (including seltzer) into a metal cup and put it on the shake blender I was so skeptical that I’ve never ordered one.

Over the weekend I was out and about and thrilled to find the ice cream stand of my youth re-opened, with the original name and a signage claiming “since 1934”. I walked in, didn’t even glance at the menu … I asked “do you make ice cream sodas?” I was told “yes” so I ordered a vanilla soda w/ chocolate ice cream. The young woman working the counter turned away to make it, turned back and said “what flavor did you want?” so I repeated my order and she said “we only have plain seltzer”. Huh? I said “so you don’t know how to make one?” and she looked at me at had her coworker, like I was a lunatic so I said “thanks” and left.

Are sodas becoming a ‘lost art’?

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  1. I know there area number of ice cream sodas (ice cream, milk, syrup and seltzer) on the menu at Pizzi Farm Market and Deli in Waltham but I have never tried them. The rest of their options (sandwiches, panini, ice cream) are all very good so I would give it a try. http://www.pizzifarm.com/index.php?id=26

    1 Reply
    1. re: thegirlwholovestoeat

      I tried to get one there at the beginning of last summer.... not sure if it was just too early in the season and the kids didn't know what they were doing yet, but none of them knew how to make one. I think they looked it up in a book, but whatever I got was not exactly an ice cream soda, and not very good!

      I have no recommendations really, besides giving it a shot at various ice cream places like I do, but here is another ice cream soda lover anyhow! :)

    2. In downtown Haverhill, England's MicroCreamery makes old fashion ice cream soda's, and Fowle's in Newburyport used to make them, although I haven't ordered one there in maybe two years.

      1. Richardson's on 114 in Middleton makes a great ice cream soda.

        1. I've had very nice ice cream sodas at both JP Licks and Brighams.

          4 Replies
          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

            I don't recall having a properly-made soda at Brigham's recently, but I'll second JP Licks - at least most of the time. My recollection is that I did get a kind of a half-assed soda one time last summer. I believe I've also had a good one at Cabot's in Newton.

            To respond to SCP77's final question - the ice cream soda has indeed become a lost art, which has been a pet peeve of mine for well over a decade. For one thing, most ice cream shops don't have plain soda water on their soft drink fountains any more, which is how you get the counter staff saying things like "We only have plain seltzer." The other big fail that I often run into is people who mix soda water and syrup, but don't add the requisite splash of milk or half and half, so you end up with a nasty thing that resembles a float.

            I hope folks can post some other leads to good ice cream sodas on this thread - they are one my my favorite summer treats.

            1. re: Allstonian

              I would like to second Cabot's in Newton for a fine ice cream soda.

              1. re: Allstonian

                Went to JP Licks in Cambridge today and it was not good. I asked for an ice cream soda with chocolate ice cream and vanilla soda. The person behind the counter repeated my order back to me but then made a chocolate soda with vanilla ice. Not the end of the world and I didn't feel like asking for it to be re-made and started my walk home. On the walk, I noticed there was no froth and thought this was pretty odd. Then I tasted it. The soda was completely flat -- zero carbonation. Not even a hint. To the point that I had to wonder if it was plain water instead of soda.

                1. re: Allstonian

                  I just had one a Brighams in Arlington (corporate office site) and it was delicious. Also, Coleens in Medford Square makes good ones. I hate it when places try to substitute ginger ale and/or 7 up or mountain dew for seltzer- they claim you can't taste the difference- BALONEY all that stands out is the taste of the soda!

                  I have started making them for my husband and I at home. We love coffee ones and as a treat we will have an ice cream soda night at home! It actually is cheaper in the long run- for the cost of 2 at an ice cream shop you can get a weeks worth at home.

              2. Totally a lost art. I tried to order a chocolate ice cream soda at Emack & Bolio's, which had it on the menu. I got a blank look followed by, "So, you want a Coke with a scoop of chocolate ice cream in it?" I finally got them to grasp what I was talking about by saying it was like an egg cream with a scoop of ice cream in it. I wish they would't put it on the menu if they have no idea what it even IS.

                That said, Brigham's is usually OK. If it's a real Brigham's, not the counters in malls. JP Lick's and Herrell's, too.

                3 Replies
                1. re: BostonCookieMonster

                  Yes, Emack and Bolio's was the first place I encountered staff with nothing but canned/bottled soft drinks and no clue what an ice cream soda even was, let alone how to make one - as I said above, at least ten years ago.

                  Lately I often find myself near the Brigham's in Belmont on Tuesday evenings - I will have to try a soda there. I really like that one - the staff are very good and take a lot of pride in the quality of their work.

                  1. re: Allstonian

                    That's the only Brigham's I've had an ice cream soda at (you weren't with me), and it was quite nice. I had forgotten about Cabot's -- someplace I would love to include in the repertoire more often -- and have not had a soda from there yet, but I have yet to have anything less than stellar from their fountain, so I would expect great things.

                  2. re: BostonCookieMonster

                    Part of the confusion may result from regional distinctions -- I grew up in the Midwest, and I'd never heard of putting milk in an "ice cream soda" before reading this thread. (Sounds good, though.)

                  3. Can I just ask where Turner's in Provincetown is? I have no clue.

                    2 Replies
                      1. re: ScubaSteve

                        Ah, I know where it is now. Never knew they had ice cream sodas there, I thought it was just a fudge/candy shop. Hmm.

                    1. I'm not positive, but I would be pretty sure that Colleen's (former Brigham's) in Medford Sqaure would make them.

                      I worked at various Brighams' for years way back when, so I can make them in my sleep. Put in a big squirt of flavored syrup and a coupld of squirts of cream. Add some soda water from the soda tap. Then add a hard stream of soda water (push soda tap handle backward to get this). This makes the froth. Then fill with soda water. Cross straw and long spoon in soda glass and place scoop of ice cream between them (so it doesn't fall all the way down into the soda). So, if you need to you can provide and unskilled soda jerk (not worthy of the name) with some guidance.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: pemma

                        The one problem being, as I mentioed above, that an awful lot of ice cream shops no longer have a plain soda tap - without that, you can't make a good ice cream soda, even with coaching.

                        1. re: Allstonian

                          I love a good ice cream soda, or egg cream. I will say that the few times I order them, I almost always need to send them back to be "doctored" --i.e. either more soda or more syrup....the measurements are always just a little off. People just aren't that familiar with them anymore, so hey don't get ordered much, and as a result the folks serving up soda, ice cream etc rarely know how to make them. A bummer, so I often just make 'em myself at home. Just as easy and I know I'll do it right :)

                          1. re: twentyoystahs

                            Are you from NY? New Yorkers call ice cream sodas without the ice cream "egg creams". At Brigham's we just called them "plain sodas".

                            1. re: pemma

                              Back in '89 I had an egg cream at Tommy's Lunch, Harvard Square (or a bit east; Mt. Auburn St.). I'd never heard of 'em before and imagined it must contain egg. Haven't eaten there since but believe they're still there...

                              1. re: tcd

                                Nope, Tommy's Lunch closed in 1992. No egg creams (or raspberry lime rickeys) from there any more.

                            2. re: twentyoystahs

                              Are you able to get the frothiness at home that you get with the hard spray at an ice cream store?

                              1. re: pemma

                                hi, yes, i am from NY --though my mom was from springfield, ma and she called ice cream sodas without the ice cream "egg creams" too. In fact, brigham's used to be one of her favorite spots growing up (and that was over 60 years ago)....so i assumed they were called egg creams here too, ---no?

                                and yes, i can get that same frothiness --i really don't notice much of a difference btwn home and an ice cream shop (except i don't have to send it back to be properly made..!)

                            3. re: Allstonian

                              Colleen's still has the old tonic water taps and syrup pumps.

                              It's the only place I've found, in recent years, remotely near my house that still knows how to make a proper ice cream soda. Their regular tonics (Coke, Sprite, etc) also taste better because they are hand "jerking" them, rather than relying on the stand alone "fountains", that I find are always either too fizzy, or too syrupy.

                              Colleen's also still serves a reasonably sized banana split. I don't want to eat a quart of ice cream, just because I'm craving an old-fashioned banana split.

                          2. How about Treadwell's in Peabody?

                            1. Never been disappointed at Meletharb's in Wakefield. I haven't had their ice cream soda for a couple of years but they make very authentic fountain drinks, my favorite being a great lime rickey - but that is another thread!

                              1. once it warms up I expect that Scampo will put their root beer float back on their drink list-- has rum and infused vodka and is dangerously easy to drink

                                1 Reply
                                1. Inspired by this thread, Barmy and I planned a visit to Cabot's into Saturday afternoon errands to Russo's and such, and I'm pleased to report that they do indeed still make a very fine ice cream soda - I had chocolate and Barmy had strawberry.

                                  Ice cream sodas are also available in a large and an insanely large size, but even the regular size one is a generous drink topped with a big scoop of ice cream and capped with whipped cream and a cherry. My only tiniest quibble is that the soda water could have used a bit more fizz, but that's a very fine point.

                                  One warning, however - much as I like most of what I've had at Cabot's, their lime and raspberry lime rickeys are terrible - too sweet and really artificial-tasting. Not as bad as the Za-Rax tasting ones at Celebrity and Deluxe Town Diner, but really not good.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Allstonian

                                    I would also add the caveat that if you order something with fries (such as the quite nice deli club I had), you need to eat ALL the fries immediately, or as many of them as you can. They're quite tasty when fresh out of the fryer, but as they get cold, they start tasting greasy and sodden.

                                  2. puleo's in salem mass on rt 107

                                    1. Cravings in Wakefield looks like they'd be able to do it right...looks like an old timey soda fountain, complete with marble topped counter. I've never asked for one there, and given the younger and occasionally indifferent staff I've seen there, I wouldn't get my hopes up. But it's the first place I thought of when I started thinking about where one SHOULD be able to get an ice cream soda.