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Jul 2, 2012 10:57 AM

Earnest ice cream - a bit disappointing

I was hoping for more interesting flavour selections based upon reading past reviews online. But all they had when I visited the 485 Commercial Drive Woodland Smokehouse location was chocolate and vanilla. That was a bit of a surprise. I took the chocolate sandwich.

It came in a little plastic pouch which was well branded. Oddly it didn't say the flavour on the pouch, which was ok with just chocolate and vanilla - but when they have their other flavours how do you know which is which?!?!??

The cookies for the sandwich were very light and I detected a bit of almond flour in them. They very closely resembled a macaron based to me with that same light consistency. The ice cream itself was a little bit freezer burned around the edges (disappointing - they need better storage - it appeared almost as if it had melted and refrozen). Getting around the freezer burn issue to the centre part the ice cream was in fact very rich and creamy with a nice deep chocolate flavour.

Coming in at a little bit over $4 for this small little ice cream sandwich, I just can't help but think it wasn't good value. I would expect a damn perfect ice cream sandwich without freezer burn for the premium pricing.

I will give them another chance, on the hope that there was just a temporary storage issue the day I visited and that on another day they may have better flavour selections.

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  1. Thanks for TOFTT, YVRC. I must say the ice cream does not look too salutary. You can see the problem you described very clearly.

    1 Reply
    1. re: grayelf

      It was a real bummer. I imagine if they had better storage it could have been much better.

    2. Well, what can we say about a small-batch, handmade product? It won't be perfect every time and they're probably still working out kinks in their process.

      We tried them at the Waldorf Hotel Canada Day Block Party and Food Cart Festival and it was a great experience. We were served by Erica herself! Her arm must've been killing her after scooping for the whole afternoon. We had the:

      R&B Oatmeal Stout
      Rhubarb Oat Crumble
      Salted Caramel

      All flavours were strong and punchy without being too sweet. The stout flavour really came through and melded perfectly with the base ice cream. The rhubarb was tart and amazing. I've never really appreciated salted caramel anything before tasting this ice cream...made me a convert!

      Simple ingredients, great flavours. Time to follow them on Twitter for the latest scoop!

      8 Replies
      1. re: flowbee

        Sounds like the scooped ice cream might be the way to go, then. I love rhurbarb! Do they ever have it at the commissary?

        1. re: flowbee

          Thank you flowbee for saying more eloquently what I wanted to say. Small batch, handmade products are constantly being tweaked by the people behind the scenes (often one or two people for businesses like this), and it's a little rough to judge them based on one little ice cream sandwich. There is no giant quality control department analysing every product, nor are there the preservatives and stabilizers used in mainstream commercial products to make sure that a product tastes consistent nationwide, year after year. Just something to remember.

          1. re: peter.v

            True, but also remember the ultra-premium pricing.

            1. re: 1newyorkguy

              It's not that high actually, especially compared to all other small batch producers. Commercial producers have gradually reduced the true cream portion of what was originally "ice cream" to the point where most, if not all national frozen dessert brands are no longer ice cream. Dairy is incredibly expensive in this country.

              1. re: peter.v

                Food pricing jumped the shark with the introduction of macarons and boutique donuts to the Vancouver landscape :P I think we can accept boutique ice cream to that mix. Yes, dairy is VERY expensive here...I take a hard gulp whenever I buy cheese. It's something that I just accept now and indulge regardless.

                My mental quality/value comparisons, all worth the inconvenience/expense imho:

                Earnest Ice Cream > Bryers > Snow Star
                Bella Gelateria > Marios Gelati > mall gelato
                Les Amis du Fromage > shrink-wrapped supermarket cheese bricks
                JN&Z Deli > International Sausage House > generic pre-sliced supermarket cured meats

                etc :D

                @grayelf I've never been to Woodland Commissary but now I have a bigger reason to! I'll report back if I get around to visiting it.

                1. re: flowbee

                  Just enjoyed my first Bella the other day. Really good but really expensive and small.

                  1. re: 1newyorkguy

                    Follow up to this post--went to Leonidas around the corner from Bella. I've had bad chocolate at their santa monica location, but decided to try their gelato..and really enjoyed it..for half the price of Bella!

          2. Hmmm I've tried a few of the sandwiches now - vanilla, strawberry, chocolate - and haven't had the problem you described at all. The dacquoise sandwich is a really good consistency and definitely no freezer burn. Maybe you just got a dud.

            I can understand wanting interesting flavours, but to me there's something delicious about a really well executed vanilla (or chocolate) flavour.

            That said, their salted caramel is delicious.

            8 Replies
            1. re: reiney

              Also from a tweet today, apparently Earnest was at the Kits Farmers Market -- I'll deffo check for next Sunday as this would be easier than heading to Commercial Drive.

              1. re: grayelf

                Let's make it a mini-down one Sunday since we're both in the hood! ;)

                1. re: twinkienic

                  I got a coffee ice cream sandwich at the Kits Farmers Market last weekend, it was enjoyable, but perhaps not $5 worth of enjoyment? I think that next time I will try their regular ice cream rather than a sandwich. There were no issues at all with the ice cream texture or re-freezing crystalization.

                  It's worth noting that they are now making the sandwiches in slabs, and cutting them into smaller pieces, rather than the individual "cookie" style in the original photo.

                  The dacquoise that makes up the bread of the sandwich was well-executed, but I guess I'm just a sucker for the contrasting crunch of a cookie in an ice cream sandwich. The soft dacquoise texture did not contrast enough with the ice cream for my personal tastes.

                  The coffee flavour was good, but not as strong as I would have liked. Bear in mind I am a hard-core JJ Bean americano drinker, so I probably shouldn't have expected that same kind of potency in an ice cream.

                  Still, it's nice to buy a local ice cream product, especially one with such a neat variety of flavours. Especially since I made myself promise I wouldn't buy Haagen Daas until they stop using hormone-y milk products.

                  1. re: StarryFork

                    yeah, I'll only buy ben n jerry's due to the no-hormone pledge. those hormones are banned in canadian farms, right? are there any canadian brands cheaper than ben & jerry's, without hormones, that are still good?

                      1. re: Sam Salmon

                        +1 to Udder Guys. Bloody fantastic stuff.

                        1. re: thatwhileifound

                          Udder Guys is sooooo good. Their chocolate fudge crunch is ridonkulous.

                          1. re: StarryFork

                            Thanks for the reminder re Udder Guys, as it caused my lazy self to look up where to buy it: Must try the choc fudge crunch soonest; in fact I just put in a call to the SO for an emergency stop at Choices on his way home tonight ;-


                            Re Bella, I balk at the prices too but man when his flavours are on they are so on. I still dream about a cilantro lime sorbet thingy he did two summers ago...

            2. I haven't tried the sandwiches, but I've tried a variety of their ice creams as samples. All in all, they're okay. I mean, it's ice cream and it's real ice cream, so it's bound to be good, but nothing blew me away. The rhubarb was the real stand out.

              That said, with the issues you're seeing on the sandwich, I wonder if they were just left out too long or if Woodland's little front cooler might not be temping correctly. I know they had issues with one of their main front ones recently as well. It might be worth letting them know. They're good people and I think they'd respond accordingly to this kind of feedback.

              1. I feel it is time to update this, as they have really upped their game since this was originally posted, and have opened their new location on Quebec Street (1829 Quebec).

                I truly enjoyed my whiskey hazelnut combined with cookies & cream. The whiskey flavour was impactful, yet not overpowering. It blended well with the rich creaminess of the smooth ice cream and was highlighted by the fresh nutty crunch of the roasted hazelnuts. The cookies & cream was a rich vanilla flavour with just the right amount of texture from the crunchy cookie crumbs without being overly sweet. Both were delicious.

                Combine all of that with a nice high ceilinged space with lots of room to sit and enjoy the treasure which is their ice cream.

                I would dare to call it the best ice cream I've had in Vancouver. There, I said it.

                4 Replies
                1. re: YVRChow

                  Have you tried their shop on Fraser next to Batard? Much easier to park than Quebec St.

                  I haven't had Earnest since a couple summers ago when I bought a little jar of salted caramel at the Kits Farmers Market for $10. Didn't bowl me over enough to seek it out again.

                  There aren't that many quality ice cream contenders here, at least not compared to SF or Portland, the other two places I eat in most, and both ice-cream obsessed.

                  1. re: grayelf

                    I have also tried their Fraser shop - which I think has recently upped its game too as I wasn't too impressed the first time I visited shortly after it opened.

                    I definitely prefer them over Rain or Shine - I've had too many "icy issues" there. :)

                    1. re: YVRChow

                      I had one icy issue at Rain or Shine and never went back as the ice cream didn't impress. Too bad as it is much closer.

                      Bella is still my favourite in town, though of course it's gelato and not ice cream proper. They all give me sticker shock but I do understand the small-batch-high-quality argument and it's not like I eat gallons of the stuff anyway. Now cheese is another story ;-)

                      1. re: grayelf

                        Bella is superb. I love their super dark chocolate options. :)