In a nutshell: At this New York-based hangout, soft-serve gets a makeover that brings refreshing uniqueness to the classic creamy treat.
My earliest memories of soft-serve are all from Foster’s Freeze: I’ll never forget the after-school trips and post-dinner runs to pick up a chocolate-dipped twist soft-serve kid’s cone or an Oreo Twister. It was an experience made better only by fresh-out-of-the-fryer french fries from the grill section of the restaurant (my taste for experimental combinations developed early).
Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff, the owners of Big Gay Ice Cream (hereafter referred to as BGIC), also had a knack for experimentation. They launched their ice cream truck in summer 2009, dedicated to putting a creative spin on the usual soft-serve cone. BGIC’s first brick-and-mortar location in East Village opened its doors in summer 2011, followed by the West Village spot in winter 2012. Philadelphia and Los Angeles are scheduled to have their own outposts by the end of this summer.
Ice cream shops can be found on every other block in the city, but BGIC one-ups them with unlikely toppings on its classic soft-serve. Olive oil and sea salt? Sure. Elderflower syrup? Of course. Wasabi pea dust? Why not? Cup or cone, shake or float, the offerings here are sure to float your boat.
In addition to its own treats, BGIC hawks sweets from the likes of Melt Bakery, La Newyorkina, Oslo Coffee, Danny Macaroons, Bacon Marmalade, and Treats Truck.
Let’s start with the ice cream in its purest form. As of spring 2013, BGIC’s ice cream is a proprietary recipe co-developed with Ronnybrook Farm Dairy. Milky and creamy, the soft-serve melts nicely on the tongue. The chocolate shell forms within seconds, a rich coating that helps the soft-serve retain its structure instead of becoming a puddle. As you bite/lick in to enjoy your treat, never fear: back-up is here… in the form of a cone holder! I am the biggest fan of these. Whoever came up with cone holders is an absolute genius and deserves a big hug from me and sticky-ice-cream-finger sufferers everywhere.
A tall swirl of soft-serve teetering on a cone gets a generous coat of toasted curried coconut. The ingredient combination more commonly used for more savory concoctions does well on a sweeter base.
My first brush with BGIC was with this cone, and it turned me into a repeat customer. A Nutella-lined cone is filled up with twist ice cream and finished off with a healthy drizzle of dulce de leche, a sprinkle of sea salt, and folds of whipped cream. One lick and that Monday-blues frown will turn upside down.
The famous Florida pie finds a chilly rendition in this sweet n’ tart sundae of vanilla soft-serve, key lime curd, crushed graham crackers, and whipped cream. Ariel would approve.
Can Thanksgiving come any sooner? Soft-serve gets a healthy dose of apple butter, sticky bourbon butterscotch, and chunky pie crumbles in this sundae that sounds like the nixed name of a superhero. A frothy ring of whipped cream crests the top, assuming the throne as it does on desserts worldwide. Should you have other pie preferences, a pumpkin butter and maple syrup version exists as well.
This specialty cone couldn’t be more top-heavy if it wanted to be; a paper tray was the way to go to ensure this decadent monstrosity wouldn’t topple onto the front of my shirt. Soft-serve is studded with pretzel pieces, gets a dash of sea salt, and is dowsed in silky chocolate dip for a salty and sweet, crunchy and smooth delicacy.
Whether it’s a boiling hot summer afternoon or frigid winter’s evening, BGIC’s creative frozen delights will satisfy the soft-serve cravings of those with the most timid and most adventurous of taste buds.
Big Gay Ice Cream Shop
125 E 7th St / 61 Grove Street
New York, NY