Summer is here, which means it’s time to start eating ice cream with a little more gusto. While I don’t prescribe eating ice cream every day, Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream—a brand new parlor on the Lower East Side—has enough flavors to keep you coming back over and over again. But look at that line! Should you even try?
My answer: absolutely. After sampling the goods from over 27 different shops and brands in the NYC area last summer, I now consider myself an authority on which of those have the right to be in my belly. Generally, the space is reserved for Ample Hills and Oddfellows; but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for more. So when I read that Morgenstern’s chef/owner, Nick Morgenstern, had serious kitchen cred from working at restaurants like Gramercy Tavern and Daniel, and had been planning for years to open a parlor of his own, my curiosity was peaked (admittedly, not difficult when it comes to this subject matter).
I can’t help but admire a man who devotes his life to ice cream. Also admirable? The guy is making 5 different kinds of vanilla—so bold. This makes me love everything. Who would’ve thought that vanilla ice cream could inspire these kinds of feelings?
The menu at Morgenstern’s; flavor availability changes daily.
The line at Morgenstern’s wasn’t exactly moving quickly, though once we placed our order we discovered why: components of various ice creams get mixed in to-order, like crunchy bits and caramel. Whipped cream gets “whipped” a la minute, but it’s actually better described as “furiously shaken.” The cashiers take a moment to offer you a smile, a recommendation, more if you need it.
We appreciated the attention to detail. Everything at Morgenstern’s seems to have been considered with the utmost care—a feeling that’s amplified by the friendly, attentive service—but it’s not a precious ice cream parlor. The decor is a balance of clean, modern style and vintage touches. It feels like it could be at home in a number of decades.
Don’t forget: cash only at Morgenstern’s!
The flavors are incredibly hard to choose from, so bring about 8 friends or clear your schedule for the week so you can make extra trips back. I’m already planning after-work ice cream dates to have the opportunity to try Gula Jawa (described as “brown sugar island style”), Salt & Pepper Pinenut, Luxardo Cherry, “Jungle Bird” sorbet (no idea), every last flavor of vanilla and Fernet Black Walnut (which I was planning to order, but was unavailable on the day I visited).
Those that were tasted: Burnt Honey Vanilla, which was delightfully caramel-like; Cardamom Lemon Jam, that tasted like lemon pie a la mode; a very good and recommended Raw Milk; and both Coffee Caramel and Coffee Crisp, made with Counter Culture coffee. Aside from being delicious, all flavors were incredibly light and smooth, a quality that can be attributed to batters that are eggless and lower in sugar and butterfat than most other ice creams.
Toppings include nuts, dried acai, and labne.
Counter Culture Coffee Caramel and Coffee Crisp ice creams.
Did Manhattan need another ice cream option? Maybe not; but even though there are plenty of shops competing for space in your stomach this summer, it’s safe to say you’ll definitely want to find room for Morgenstern’s cool desserts.