Smitten Ice Cream
Smitten officially opened their doors on the Octavia Green today and I hurried right over to check it out. I could have sworn I read somewhere that they would be making custom scoops--combining flavors and ingredients, etc--as part of the whole making scoops to order thing. Today the choices were: vanilla, strawberry and green tea (with "fortune cookie crumble" topping, which turned out to be piselles).
The texture was extraordinary, as you'd expect from liquid nitrogen frozen cream. Really, really smooth and amazing. Sadly, the flavors completely missed the mark. My friend and I tried the strawberry and the green tea and both were hollow and flat. The strawberry had some lemon in it, which really stood out over the strawberry flavor. There was no fullness, very little strawberry-ness, and the green tea was just empty.
At $5.50 a scoop, I will not be going back unless I hear that things have improved dramatically in the flavor department.
Smitten Ice Cream
Octavia Blvd Linden St, San Francisco, CA 94102
It's in Hayes Valley on the small street Linden & Octavia, next to Patricia's Green Park. It does take a while after ordering to get your ice cream - about 10 minutes. Liquid nitrogen to make ice cream - cool.
They had 4 flavors on the board when I went:
Fresh Strawberry, White Balsamic
Tcho Chocolate - ran out when we went.
I got a Single Salted Caramel which is $4.75 for a cup. It's a small scoop, melts really quick, and super sweet. Just ok. I paid Cash, but I think you can charge it.
Homemade pizzelle cone .75
homemade ice cream sandwich $5
We ate it on the cement slabs at the Park.
T-Th, Sun 12-9
Fri & sat 12-10
I tried Smitten last week and had a small Brown Sugar w/ cinnamon cookies in a pizzelle cone. It was $6 so I won't do that too often. It could easily be a meal replacement - I was stuffed. I would like to try other flavors as I don't really like ground up cookies in my ice cream I have now decided.
Stopped by on a whim today. They had not started to mix today's batch of rhubarb crisp flavor just yet, so I tried the vanilla. For me the flavor was actually the strong suit - definitely an above average, intense vanilla similar to the vanilla flavors at Xanath on Valencia. But I didn't find the texture all that special.
Would I get this again if I was in the neighborhood and wanted dessert? Sure. Would I make a special trip for it? At $3.50 for a kid's size, no way.
FWIW, I heard them explain to two different customers why they had no chocolate today. Apparently chocolate is "really messy to work with when the weather is hot."
I stopped by over the weekend with my family and did get a chance to try the rhubarb crisp, salted caramel, and vanilla (everything they had on the board).
No custom flavors like I had read about previously was kind of a bummer.
Vanilla was definitely the best of the three - easily the crowd pleaser.
Salted caramel was too sweet for all except the kids.
Rhubarb crisp was ok - refreshing after the salted caramel, but on it's own it wasn't all that special.
We walked around for a bit afterwards, and ended up driving to BiRite a few hours later.
It's true about chocolate. It's harder to set when the weather is warm, which is why chocolate makers work in air-conditioned rooms. For ice cream makers, I imagine they have to put it in the freezer and let the chocolate set, but since Smitten's gimmick is to make it on the spot and let you eat it right away, probably not all the liquid nitrogen can set the chocolate to really give it that ice cream texture. They can offer chocolate syrup though. ;-)
I had a sampling last weekend and thought it was overall good! Agree that the texture was exceptional. Creamy, smooth, rich. Basically a nice melt in your mouth. You know how you can still have a good frozen chunk of ice cream stuck on your spoon and you have a good 2-3 more licks until it's gone? Smitten's just comes straight off the spoon... just good creaminess!
I saw their ingredients in plain view next to their very cool nitrogen ice cream machines. They're exactly what ice cream ingredients should be, cream and flavorings. In this case they were handing out strawberry and I saw a big tub of strawberry stewing in its own syrup. Guessing the sugar component comes from that syrup.
I wouldn't call the flavor flat, but definitely more mellow than other strawberry ice creams. Maybe because the ingredients are so fresh and matter of fact.. no concentrates or artificial flavorings. I would probably suggest dicing up some fresh berries to give it some texture.
Oh and perhaps you misunderstood the "made to order" thing they do. I don't know if they allow you to choose your own flavorings but they make to order meaning once you order, they churn it up immediately in that machine. It takes 60 seconds to freeze over.
From the Smitten website: "Seasonal specials and personalizable ingredient combinations will mean there’s always something new to try."
BiRite doesn't use anything artificial, either, but their flavors are intense, much more to my taste.
To each their own. :-) While the texture was definitely the best I've ever had, the lack of flavor was a major letdown for me.