I am already a fan of their original location, so when the Yaletown one opened late summer I made a point to go. Award winning gelato, with some of the most exciting flavours and the creamiest of textures (in my opinion). They are my favourite when it comes to gourmet ice cream, best known for their in house made operations and their lines that usually extend out the door. I got most excited to learn they offered ice cream in cocktails and ice cream in macarons. What I didn’t expect pulling up was how elaborate the decor would be. This was a very dressed up setting for ice cream by the scoop and cone. Though given the area and their expanded offerings, the theme did flow well.
With their establishment facing the water, I could see their popularity skyrocket during the peak of summer. Heck on this cold fall night the place was packed and lines of ice cream lovers grew well after 10pm, good thing they close at 11pm. The patio was left unseated, too dark and too cold of a night. But with heat lamps that looked like metal towers spewing flames the entrance was kept fairly toasty. In this dark of night you also can’t make out the letters on the unlit awning, but peering in it was clear that we were at the right place.
None of us left we was dressed appropriately for the place, they were fancy. Severs at an ice cream parlour? Servers in button ups and aprons around their waists, distilled water poured from long neck bottles, red and white wine stack in pyramid on shelves, and reusable napkins folded for each seat. We felt underdressed by the decor, yet like VIPs by the level of service.
The space was well lit with several spheres constructed of tiny individual bulbs. A light source made only brighter against stark white walls, white cushioned high tops, and a pillar tiled in white and black squares. Here winter was in full swing with festive floral arrangements in bloom on tables, and merry details of red and green by the entrance.
Waking in you are greeted by a lengthy refrigerated unit. Behind the well polished glass were plated and decorated desserts. Fine confectionaries tempted a taste and full cakes beckoned to be purchased for any occasion. Apple pie with a scoop of ice cream and a smear of caramel, baked cookies sandwiching various perfectly piped ice creams, and triple chocolate fudge brownies complimented by vanilla ice cream. Each 16″-18″ inch cake was well decorated. Precision allowed intricate piping and delicate patterns, I liked the owl in chocolate the most.
If you can get pass this attention grabbing showcase another one greets you at the cash desk. This one had two rows of plates, each with desserts, too featuring their in house made gelato. Four flavours of fist-sized macarons on wooden planks and four varieties of chewy cookies, both centred by velvety gelato. “Snickerdoodle cookies with scotch and black sesame”, “gingerbread with amarena cherry gelato”, and “rosemary chocolate cookies with earl grey gelato”. We got the macarons so will be describing them later dove this post.
For more options the menu is posted above and behind, though its hard to want anything else when you have already visually chosen from the showcase above. As I mentioned I went for gold and got one of each of the macarons. But for those interested croissants, brioche, and scones are available too. It felt too late to ask, but I can only conclude the brick pizza oven that greeted you facing the door, was indeed in use. If not for pizza, flatbreads and other doughy savouries for lunch. And of course gelato was also offered as is by the cup or cone, in one scoop or by the multiples. Each flavour was stored in bins beneath the counter. Rows and rows of flavours offered signified by their metal lids. Nearby by for easy use were stack of sugar cones and columns of colourful plastic bowls.
I failed to ask but was highly interested in the running tap of both white and milk chocolate. Smooth lines of wine and brown, in steady streams they ran into a drain. I suspect these are used to cost your ice cream in chocolate.
We claimed a table towards the back. Set against a black wall with white words in script, “Noi lo facciano davanti a tutti…” Translated from Italian it reads, “We do it in front of everyone…” A confusing quote without context, but it refers to their operations being out in the open. As proof by the glass room adjacent. Clearly visible were metal mixing vats, shined stainless surfaces, and bowls of fruit ready to be incorporated into the next batch.
A server approached after we sat ourselves. We were offered the drinks menu and given time to read through it. Impressively, it was a bound book, and not just an laminated sheet. Looking things over, I had to get one of their “gelatinis”, when else do you get to try an alcoholic beverage featuring gelato? But which to choose? Their specialty cocktails list had descriptive paragraphs that enticed me to try each.
“Texas Grind”. Made with their pecan, vanilla, and sour cherry gelato; Vodka, Grand Marnier, a pinch of fine coffee grounds, and a little mildly spicy ground urfa chilli. Then topped with real Tahitian vanilla bean. Reading that their pecan, vanilla, and sour cherry gelato won the 2014 North American Gelato World Tour Championship, it peaked my interest enough to try it for $14. This was definitely the strongest of the two gelatinis we ordered. And the ice cream did little to sweeten the cocktail into one that can be considered a dessert. The vanilla was as fragrant as it tasted, partnered with the coffee grounds they made a nice pairing.
“Matcha Smash”. Matcha powder, stone ground from tea; combined with vodka and a touch of herbal Chartreuse. The description artful spoke of how this Matcha Green Tea Gelatini will transport you straight to the forests of Japan. I didn’t get that, but it was the preferred cocktail of the two. An earthy flavour from the matcha powder and creamy from the gelato. A must try for those fans of green tea. Though I suggest sharing these. I found mine too rich, too boozy, and surprisingly very strong. I rather have both the ice cream and the shot of liquior separate from one another. In fact I only ate the ice cream and left the liquid pooled around it behind. Good, but I don’t need to try another, more for novelty then craving.
“Orange soda”, this a non alcoholic gelato beverage. This is a orange float for grown ups. From the black specks floating atop of the glass you could tell real vanilla beans were used in its making. The addition of real milk and rich cream in the gelato gave the drink a condensed milk quality and taste. It was easy to drink with an enjoyably sweet lingering after taste.
Ice cream filled macarons, another “how often do you see this must try”. Award winning “Bella Gelateria” gelato meets classic “Soirette” macarons in four flavours: Rose & Yuzu, Chai & old fashion chocolate, Matcha & black sesame, and Lavender & earl grey tea. I had to try all four, the server seemed surprised. The gelato was kept firm, so waiting for it to soften before digging in is advised. But pausing not so much so that you are dipping your macaron shells into puddles of cream.
A Rose macaron with Yuzu gelato. The dried petals on top were a nice delicate touch. It looked as light and pretty and it tasted. It was like eating flowers, too much perfume, too much rose water. Potpourri. I could not make out any of the citrus notes promised in the Japanese yuzu fruit. We finished it, but it didn’t taste like dessert, I will skip this the next time around.
A chai macaron with old fashion chocolate gelato. The bold, unsweetened chocolate flavour met up well with the distinct spice of cinnamon. A nutty chewy bite with a unique flavour, ideal with black coffee. Though I personally would have preferred it sweeter. Instead made with more of a milk chocolate sugary-ness and less of a its current cinnamony kick.
A matcha green tea macaron filled with black sesame gelato. My favourite of the four, especially as I am a fan if both these flavours. Classic and complimentary, no surprises here.
A lavender macaron with earl grey tea gelato. A mild tea flavour, subtle, aromatic. Another one best paired with a beverage. Given the notes of bitter tea leaves present I recommend a black tea, specifically earl grey tea to be matchy matchy.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Who can say no to ice cream? Any time of day, during any weather occurrence ice cream is always enjoyable. And with their variations on the popular dessert you can have ice cream in any of your cravings. Ice cream in your espresso, a portion with your cake or pastry, a dollop on your pie, and a scoop with cookies instead of milk.
This location is little out of the way for me, but with its fantastic surroundings and its stunning scenery, it is definitely worth the trip out on a nice day. I have never had such service and such a classy experience at any other ice cream places or cafes. Though you can’t really considered them just the purveyors of ice cream when they offer so much more. They were fancy with bottled water and reusable napkins; and professional with at the table service and bound menus. Their effort in the little details went noticed and was certainly appreciated. I seriously considered moving into the area just to be able to enjoy such treats more. Though truthfully I will be sticking to good old fashion gelato as is. Buko pandan is still my favourite. Come for the view and stay for the gelato. With over 40 flavours across seasonal selections, their variations on chocolate, and their sugar free sorbettos how can you ever get bored? Don’t deny your cravings.