With the weather getting better, ice cream season is right around the corner. And today I was invited to try “Innocent ice cream” on Main Street. But this isn’t just any ice cream shoppe, they specialize in sandwiching their in house made ice creams with their in house made cookies.
Before we get into it, the disclaimer: When it comes to a media tasting: plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.
Three years ago this brainchild started out as a ice cream sandwich cart, pedalling around English Bay. With much encouragement from a happy and growing customer base, they turned a portable store on wheels to a brick and mortar shop. Opening June of last year, their bicycle with a frozen refrigerator box strapped to it is now parked outside, as a landmark. Although every summer it rides again with plenty of event bookings to keep them busy.
Their logo is their pet Boston Terrier dressed in a black and white spotted cow suit, with horns. It comes stamped on their paper cups used to house scoops of ice cream, on stickers used to seal packages up ice cream sandwiches, and on their merchandise sold at cost: a tank, tee, and tote. He even comes out to their events, when allowed to.
Their name refers to their great vegan friendly ice cream options, and all their cookies being gluten-free. It is run by a mother-daughter team. The mom grew up making hand cranked ice cream and cookies with her mom, and now it is passing this legacy on to her daughter, as well as plenty of hungry customers.
Their showcase of 16 different ice creams is a collection curated from the feedback of said customers. It is ever being updated with new seasonal offerings and fan favourites. Six of which are always on rotation, and 5-6 are always vegan; the rest are best sellers and always available. But one thing that hasn’t changed is their prices. They have been the same since they began this journey three years ago. For the ladies of “Innocent” it is about the experience and having an approachable product, which includes a reasonable price.
It is worth noting, that the ability to converse with the owner in person, is one of the many ways that makes their ice cream extra special. You know your purchase is helping someone in your community. And the appreciation for your visit is felt as soon as you enter their threshold.
You order off the menu board, hung above the counter. It is easy to compare the listed flavour and match it with its colourful tray, behind the glass. You can see to the bottom of the metal container when it comes to the more popular ones.
As I mentioned earlier, flavours rotate with different bases all year round. This early spring it was “spiced chai” and “coconut rose” that hit the block. During this visit we got to sample and enjoy them and other coconut based vegan ice cream flavours like lemon meringue, salted bourbon chocolate, and cappuccino. The coconut rose was the most popular, and the one that sells out every day; and I can see why with just a taster. It is a beautiful flavour: the lightness of sorbet, but with the creaminess of milk. You get just enough rose flavour to highlight the luscious coconut milk base.
All of their 5-6 vegan flavours use beet sugar which is fully vegan. Whereas some cane sugars are filtered through bone char to get the colour out. Their goal is to source as natural of a product as possible, leaving you with the feeling of enjoying a healthy and clean treat.
The current list of ice cream made from cream and milk were maple walnut, mint chip, matcha, wild cherry, banana, salted caramel, coffee, vanilla, chocolate, raspberry white chocolate, and spiced cheesecake. The “Spiced cheese cake” tasted like pumpkin pie thanks to the spices, but with a cream cheese base. And the “Banana” was flavoured more like a smoothie, instead of the antibiotics of my childhood.
As I mentioned earlier, the cookies are also made in house. Each one of their five flavours gluten free. Oatmeal, peanut butter, white chocolate chip, double chocolate, chocolate chip. They were so good that we asked if they were available for purchase alone. Unfortunately not, but if you call ahead, they can make an exception for you, with enough notice.
Their menu lists all their offerings, and also suggests their favourite cookie and ice cream pairing. Or you can choose your cookie and make your own ice cream sandwich by, but here I will strongly suggest that you leave it to the experts. They have tried and tested many variations, and have come out with some fun and complimentary ice cream sandwich combinations. Like the “Canadian” which is a oatmeal cookies with maple walnut ice cream. The “Electric” had chocolate chip cookie sandwiching coffee ice cream. And the “Kong” was a double chocolate cookie with banana ice cream together.
In the end we narrowed down our choices to three, served as miniatures in their ice cream sandwich flight. You can also get any cookie and ice cream combo you want as a whole, but I prefer tasting and trying instead of committing to one larger flavour.
Although if I could only choose one ice cream sandwich, hands down it would be the “Fairytale” with raspberry white chocolate ice cream sandwiched between a white chocolate cookie. This was everyone’s favourite of the evening, and there is a reason why this is their best seller. It was traditionally sweet with a candy feel and taste.
The “Cherry bomb” was double chocolate cookies sandwiching their wild cherry ice cream. The cherry ice cream had so much tang and brightness to it. It and its tartness was balanced by the rich chocolatey and chewy cookie base.
Matcha is one of my favourite ice cream flavours, so even though it didn’t have a preset sandwich combination, I decided to give it a try paired with their white chocolate chip cookie, and it was successful. Here, the pairing of bitter and sweet balanced each other out, allowing you to enjoy the delicious flavour of matcha with a chewy milky cookie.
And if you don’t want the carbs, you can just get a a scoop of their ice cream as is. It can be served in three different cup sizes. But honestly if you come all the way for “Innocent Ice cream” you want to try it in its intended state: with cookies, as it is their specialty. And for those who are always on the go, you can get one of their pints travel ready. It is any flavour and cookie of your choosing layered within the cardboard pint.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A solid dessert spot, located in an area where none other like it exists. A great place for vegans and those who are gluten intolerant, to be able to fully enjoy themselves with a full array of options. And best of all, run by owners who are part of the community that you live in and want to support. With rotating ice cream flavours and plans to make ice creams for dogs, there is plenty of reason to revisit. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for “Innocent” and how creative can their passion project get. Don’t deny your cravings.
INNOCENT ICE CREAM
4895 Main Street, Vancouver BC, V6E 1V3