A handful of sit-down restaurants hoping to cash in on summer ice-cream cravings have started selling creamy, pastry-chef-approved servings to go. They’ve rejected the wannaberry frozen-yogurt model in favor of local mix-ins, butterfat, and, in one successful case, soy. We sampled their results and offered our own superlatives. —Alexandra Vallis
BEST TASTE: THE ODEON
Sales Pitch: Organic and local farm-sourced ingredients without stabilizers or gums might not make the prettiest ice cream, but the flavors are pure and three selections are scooped daily from a cart outside the entrance from 1 p.m. to dusk.
Flavors: Satur Farms spearmint chocolate chip; vanilla; chocolate; pistachio; strawberries & cream; dulce de leche; house-baked cookies & cream; peanut fudge ripple; bananas with vanilla wafers.
Price: House-made organic waffle cone, $4; cup, $4.
Taste Test: “Wow, it’s like actual mint.” “It reminds me of the mint sorbet I had at Babbo.” “Banana wafer is awesome.” “That’s the most intense dark chocolate I’ve had.” “Dulce de leche could use more caramel.” “Pistachio has an interesting salty undertone, which I guess is trying to evoke salted pistachios.”
BEST TOPPINGS: KYOTOFU
Sales Pitch: Japanese soymilk soft-serve ice cream made from organic soymilk. Lower in fat than ice cream, dairy-free, vegan, kosher, all-natural, and preservative-free. Served to go and in specialty sundaes in-house.
Flavors: Chocolate black soybean; white sesame; black sesame; matcha green tea; vanilla; kinako (toasted Japanese soy flour); genmaicha (roasted brown-rice tea).
Toppings: Sesame streusel; mugi-choko (chocolate-covered roasted barley); kinako mochi; matcha mochi; kuromitsu (Japanese black sugar) whipped cream; fresh fruit; mixed berry compote.
Price: Small with one topping, $3.85; large with one topping, $5.85; additional toppings are 50 cents.
Taste Test: “Creamier than the frozen custard of my youth.” “White sesame is my favorite.” “The chocolate has no noticeable soy.” “Kinako is sort of like grind-it-yourself peanut butter.” “That one’s only good with the chocolate-covered rice crispy things [mugi-choko].” “Where is this from? It tastes like tofu.”
BEST SHERBET AND SORBET: QUALITY MEATS
Sales Pitch:Pastry chef Cory Colton trained with consultant Malcolm Stogo, owner of “Ice Cream University.” For now, the ice cream is available to go only during lunch service, but Quality’s testing the line for retail this summer at Loaves and Fishes in Sagaponack.
Flavors: Balinese vanilla bean; chocolate fudge brownie; roasted Sicilian pistachio; “Coffee & Doughnuts;” “Strawberry Shortcake” in yellow cake batter; Cookies & Cream with Oreo and chocolate chip cookies; orange Creamsicle sherbet; blood orange & prickly pear sorbet with ginger and bergamot.
Toppings: Mini spiced chocolate donuts; pistachio cake; chocolate brownies; shortcake biscuits; chocolate chip cookies. Sauces: Chocolate; caramel; butterscotch; mixed berry.
Price: “Dressed-up scoop,” $6; pint, $10.
Taste Test: “There aren’t enough cookies in Cookies in Cream — it’s more like cookie dough.” “Butterfat is the prominent taste in all of them.” “The flavors are sort of monotone.” “Pistachio, it tastes expensive.” “How can the donuts be dry in wet ice cream?” “This cookie’s more like a muffin.” “Creamsicle is the best; it’s almost like passion fruit.”
BEST CLASSIC FLAVORS: SEYMOUR BURTON
Sales Pitch: The restaurant’s 1972 Cadillac of ice-cream makers, the Coldelite, makes fairly traditional flavors that will be sold out of the spot’s under-construction late-night “Fried Chicken Window.” For now, you’ll have to walk inside to take away a frozen fix.
Flavors: Vanilla; salted caramel; bourbon chocolate; strawberry; pistachio.
Price: Cup, $4.
Taste Test: “This is good vanilla.” “The chocolate is very malty.” “It has an aftertaste.” “The strawberry tastes like real strawberries, but none of the flavors are very strong.” “None of these are very sweet.” “This is caramel? Oh God, it’s like sitting on your grandfather’s lap.” “It does taste like Werther’s. It’s not really salty.”
MOST EXPERIMENTAL FLAVORS: GRIFF’S GELATI AT DUANE PARK
Sales Pitch: An odd outdoor closet came with the Duane Park space, so the owners decided to turn the cubby into an avant-garde gelato stand for the summer. (Unfortunately, around the same time, Odeon started selling ice cream across the street.)
Flavors: Gelati: Mexican white chocolate; chocolate orange; lemon meringue; sesame brittle; black walnut fudge; peach melba; bourbon-pecan; tiramisu; strawberry cheesecake; Devonshire clotted cream and strawberries; peanut butter-malted milk balls; s’mores; bubble gum; rootbeer float; vanilla-chocolate turtle. Frozen Greek yogurt: honeycomb; blackberry-lemon; banana-caramel; fresh strawberry; chocolate raspberry; raspberry yogurt. Sorbets: Watermelon; blueberry white port; raspberry-Red Zinger tea; coconut-almond; sour apple; sangria; honey-lime.
Toppings: Flake British chocolate; malted milk balls; sesame seeds.
Price: One scoop, $3; two scoops $5. In cups or cones.
Taste Test: “Weird un-ice creamlike texture — it’s a little doughy.” “It’s like frozen whipped cream.” “The yogurt one has the best texture. It’s really tart.” “I just got a little crunch in the pecan; it’s good.” “Is this tahini? I like it.”