Beloved for its personalized flavors and lush textures, Portland’s Salt & Straw recently opened Seattle branches in Ballard (5420 Ballard Ave. NW) and on Capitol Hill (714 E. Pike St.). After waiting through the ever-present line, kids (and adults) are encouraged to taste as many samples as they like before picking out their chosen cone.
That might mean a Raspberry Ginger Beer flavor made with Rachel’s Ginger Beer, or a matcha-citrus-spiked Ellenos Yogurt ice cream, or a startling Beecher’s Cheese with Peppercorn Toffee. (That last one is “divisive,” head ice cream maker Tyler Malek said, but if the kids don’t like it there’s always another option to try.) The shop also serves “flights” with a handful of samplers.
PHOTO: SUZI PRATT
Beyond the dreamy creaminess, the fun of Salt & Straw is the connection Malek’s flavors make with the community. Every month or so features a new theme — in the shop’s first month, that meant working with local chocolate shops to create treats like a Fran’s Almond Gold Bar flavor and a punchy basil-chocolate-cocoa nib.
It sounds like grown-up fare, but our taste test of the shop’s first month won favorites from every age group down to the 7-year-old (she went for strawberry honey balsamic with black pepper.) At $4.95 for a single scoop ($3.95 for a kid’s size), prices are on par with the city’s other high-end ice cream makers, and cheaper than cones at Seattle’s Ben & Jerry’s.
About those other shops: In the past decade, Seattle has become a center of artisan ice cream. Makers boast different specialties and bragging rights, from Parfait Ice Cream (certified organic, made from scratch) to Kurt Farm Shop (the cream comes from the owners’ Vashon Island cows) to Sugar Plum (vegan) to Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream (sustainability) … the list could go on and on.
In short, we’re fielding an all-star team.
Salt and Straw, 5420 Ballard Ave. NW (Ballard) and 714 E. Pike St., (Capitol Hill), saltandstraw.com