I recently read about this new North Portland ice cream shop featuring wacky flavors, like Pear with Blue Cheese or Brown Ale with Bacon. I will admit, I was a little apprehensive – what kind of flavors are those? What happened to the oldie but goodies like Cookies & Cream? But in the spirit of becoming a true foodie, I decided to put on my adventurous eater hat and head over there.
And how was my visit you ask? Well to put it briefly, I went twice in 48 hours. That’s how much I liked it.
Sure, their flavors can be pretty out-there but don’t let that persuade you from checking it out. Salt & Straw, owned by cousins Kim and Tyler Malek, truly has made some of the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten. The handmade flavor combinations are unique, fun to try, and have extra layers of depth as compared to traditionally basic ice cream like plain ol’ strawberry. Plus almost all of their ingredients are from local vendors like the cream being from Lochmead Dairy in Eugene, the strawberries from Oregon Hill Farms in Saint Helens, and coffee from Stumptown.
I found their list of options much more appealing than I was expecting. If you are anything like me (and most customers there seem to be), you will stare at their chalkboard menu with a long list of regular and season flavors for a while, trying to figure out what you should try. Fortunately the employees are extremely friendly and are happy to give out samples of several flavors.
So my friends and I got to work and we tried tons of flavors. But still I couldn’t make up my mind. There were just too many things I still wanted to try – if only there was a tasting menu, like at a brewpub for beer! Almost like she was reading my mind, my friend turned to me and said “Hey look, you can do a 4 mini-scoop sampling flight!” Success! It is such a great way to try their numerous fun and interesting flavors without having to be too decisive.
Here are my favorites (at least so far) in my order of preference:
What to Get:
- Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache: Fantastic vanilla ice cream loaded with thick salted chocolate ganache. The best part is when your bite includes a chunk of Almond Roca.
- Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons: Sweet and salty, this flavor is what made me come back for the second time in two days. It’s like a delicious salted caramel candy melted down, then frozen into a creamy, vanilla-based batch of ice cream.
- Honey Balsamic Strawberry with Black Pepper: According to my friend Rachel, this was the best strawberry ice cream she’d ever had. You can’t really taste the black pepper or vinegar, but it adds an extra kick.
We also sampled the following but I would definitely recommend the ones above first:
- Pear with Blue Cheese: Made with Oregon pears and Rogue Creamery blue cheese this sounds fun and intense, so it is worth a sample bite, but it was surprisingly a little too mild on the flavors.
- Meyer Lemon Basil Sorbet: Tart but a bit too much basil for my liking
- Cinnamon Snickerdoodle: Made with Red Ape Cinnamon from Eugene, this flavor is very cinnamon-y with chunks of real cookie
- Bourbon Pecan Pie: Made with fresh pecans, whiskey from Stone Barn, a Portland-based distillery and filled with thick maple flavored caramel
- Lumberjack Stack with Maple and Blueberries: The “Official ice cream of the Portland Timbers,” this ice cream has pieces of real blueberry pancakes tossed in. It was pretty good, but there are better flavors offered.
- Hours: Daily 12 noon -11pm
- The shop is an awesome mix of modern and rustic. The cabinets and shelves are salvaged from historical places around Oregon like the bleachers of Lewis & Clark College’s original athletic stadium.