It all began one cold January night at Frances. I ordered a dessert featuring Humphry Slocombe's olive oil ice cream, which was so shockingly good I set out to discover what other treats this little ice cream parlor had to offer. Little did I know that only 4 months later I'd be calling to ask about their flavors 4 times per week, have their phone number into my contacts, and eventually find myself living a mere 4 blocks from their front door.
In my opinion, this is hands down the best ice cream in the city. Well, how about this - it's equally as good as Bi-Rite, but has a bit more originality (and no, it's not a competition between the two, I'm just using Bi-Rite as a reference). Every flavor is a perfect manifestation of what that flavor is supposed to be. I know that sounds funny, because of course if they say it tastes like vanilla, it should taste like vanilla. While the essence of straight-forward classics like coffee or chocolate is captured in every batch, it's the flavors that are off-the-beaten-path that really emphasize this unique quality. For instance, each flavor represented in the maple walnut, the balsamic caramel, the ancho chocolate, or the honey thyme is so distinct and pure, but so in sync with the other component, it's simply unbelievable.
To me, it's this kind of originality and cohesiveness of flavor that really sets Humphry Slocombe apart. Before I expand on this, let me just say this right now: I'm a huge fan of desserts that combine sweet elements with salty or savory ingredients. So, what I see as being "original," may be considered by dessert traditionalists, who stick to what's sweet, to be "disgusting."
Take, for example, foie gras ice cream. Sounds delicious! Because clearly, nothing says "ice cream" quite like fatty, rich goose liver! Mmm or how about adding a scoop of olive oil ice cream to that? Just in case you thought all of that cream and sugar needed a good helping of oil to go along with it. Or what about Candy Cap, flavored after the delightful little mushrooms, in case you wanted a little dose of fungus. Or try this - grab a salt and pepper shaker and shake it onto your tongue. Doesn't taste that great, does it? So, how in the world does Jake Godby take salt and pepper and create an ice cream that tastes exactly like salt and pepper but is still somehow delicious. No matter how bizarre the flavor may sound, the savory and sweet qualities are always in perfect balance, making just about any obscure creation something special. But don't worry, if these flavors are a bit too out there for your taste, there are over 80 choices that rotate daily, so you're sure to find something a bit more common.
And ummmmmmmm, have you heard about the duck fat pecan pies? Because, they're kind of a big deal. Rich, chewy, without being way too sugary-sweet (I'm sorry but they aren't smothered in caramel) - they will, single-handedly, be the downfall of my pre-holiday weight loss regime. They'll also be the reason my bank account dwindles to nothing, because those little suckers are expensive! $5 for about 4-5 small bites. *shaking fist in air* Damn you duck fat for being so delicious!
They don't have pages of giant sundaes to choose from, and they don't smother their scoops with caramel and fudge, but the quality, consistency, and creativity of this ice cream has made it difficult for me to venture anywhere else. While I may not go as often as I used to (the crowds and my increasingly tight waistband have helped me find some self-control), I'm still hooked for life.
Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream
2790 Harrison St
(between 23rd St and 24th St)
San Francisco, CA 94110