Outside Smitten on Valencia Street

A swing and a miss at Smitten Ice Cream

I’ve grown attuned to the end of the week: my sweet tooth starts acting up and, like clockwork, I get a hankering for ice cream.

Today presented yet another challenge. At the last minute, my colleague became unavailable. Forging ahead on my own, I gravitated to the festive Christmas lights blinking in Smitten Ice Cream’s storefront windows. I always enjoyed their bright red signage, signaling cheer despite the store’s somewhat austere, grey and white interior. 

I have only had Smitten’s ice cream once, years ago. I was cajoled by a more adventurous friend into trying a seasonal flavor, sweet corn, topped with a berry compote. 

It was surprisingly delicious, and the combination reminded me of cornbread with jam. 

Stumbling upon Smitten today felt like a sign. Like many other shops, it had only begun serving scoops again a couple of weeks ago. 

What’s most popular now? The young woman behind the counter looked confused. It took far too long for me to realize that she had trouble hearing me over the whirring from their patented ice cream-churning machines.

I repeated the question a little louder and her confusion melted away. Brookies n’ cream topped the list, she guessed, and it was her personal favorite. It’s a sweet cream-based flavor with brownies and chocolate chip cookies blended in.  Some of their other flavors were pretty good, she assured me, like salted caramel or the vegan fresh strawberry. 

Some that were worth honorable mention were only offered by the pint, like root beer float or earl grey with milk chocolate chips.

So it was brookies n’ cream for me – single scoop, in a cup. No cone options, sadly.

When my ice cream was handed to me over the clear plastic partition, I was impressed by its aesthetic perfection. 

A single scoop of brookies ‘n cream from Smitten Ice Cream.

It was a damn good looking scoop.

As I walked outside, I wanted to stop and savor my ice cream, but their small outdoor area had been claimed by two lounging people. 

I meandered along until I found a portion of sidewalk where I could social distance and eat my ice cream safely. 

In that very first bite, I was underwhelmed. The second onwards, I was disappointed.

Sure, the texture was smooth. That’s what they’re known for.

But the flavor was sweetly generic. I could have been eating a slightly melted scoop of Dreyer’s ice cream from Safeway. I would have paid less for the gallon than I paid for the scoop. 

The brownie (chocolate chip cookie?) chunks were barely detectable until they got stuck in my teeth. They tasted oddly salty, and even though I wasn’t sure I actually liked them, I wound up digging for the small pieces in my cup just so I could imbibe something flavorful. 

I am sorry to say that once those were gone, I felt mostly obligated to finish the rest. 

Here’s hoping for a palate cleanser next week.

Previously.

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12 Comments

  1. It’s so distasteful to review businesses during covid because they’re restricted in so many aspects from providing their full range of services And best foot forward. Why are you doing this Mission Local? Focus on journalism, not being a yelp like platform.

  2. You should be supporting small business during this pandemic. Like your Mom said, if you don’t have something nice to stay, don’t say it. Small businesses do not need the brunt of more pain right now. Shame on you.

  3. With businesses seriously suffering from Covid, I don’t understand the point of having reviews up at this point. I’m sure they had other good flavors, and that they are trying to survive economically.

  4. Perhaps Mission Local and its writers should consider building up small businesses with positive articles; if there’s nothing positive to say, then leave it well alone right now.

    It is passé and tacky to write food criticism articles amidst the climate of economic pressures and many small businesses shuttering. Are there not better stories to spend time on?

  5. I tried smitten earlier this year and felt the same. The mom ice cream ingredients add all the flavor.

  6. Cookie and Cream from Garden Creamery much better. I’d get coffee, chocolate, or vanilla from Smitten. They are reliable. Their caramel flavor (in season this month) is better than most seasonal flavors and better than BiRite’s IMO.

  7. See what “social” justice does? It causes disconnect from reality and the whole world becomes a fantasy. Don’t tell us the truth about that ice cream, feed us some BS that hides the truth ….

  8. The “flavor was sweetly generic” because you choose sweet cream as the base flavor. Sweet… cream. I don’t know what else to tell you. The comments on the mix-ins are the only fair part of this review. This “article” is not as good as a yelp review. And at least yelp has the decency to employ a pop up that reminds reviewers to consider the difficulties of operating a business during the pandemic.

    It would have been great to read about a struggling business that I’ve never heard of that you love and want to introduce them to your readers.

    1. Smitten’s chocolate base is pretty delicious and I don’t even like chocolate as the base for ice cream.

      An adventurous flavor combination would have made for a more interesting experience.

    1. I’m going to agree no need to bash small businesses. First with the hamberger series and now this. It’s in bad taste. Tons of great places serving food just highlight spots you like.

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