Soft serve perfection

If you know me, you know I love soft serve ice cream and eat a ton of it, so you should take it seriously when I say some of the best soft serve in this city is in the Flatiron District and as soon as you’re done reading this, you should go there and get some. If you don’t live here, A.) good for you, you probably have a healthy lifestyle and live in a beautiful home that you paid peanuts for, but B.) maybe you should come visit just to try this soft serve and maybe to feel good about living somewhere that isn’t overrun by rats.  

I’ve already mentioned this place before (refresh your memory here) because the last soft serve I had that was this damn good was actually from the same place: Made Nice, the fast-casual spot from the people behind Eleven Madison Park and The Nomad (i.e. two of the best fine dining establishments in the city, for those of you who don’t wile away your hours on food media.) It was with that soft serve in mind that I went to Made Nice, but then decided to get their other option, something I don’t remember being on the menu the last time I was there, and OH MAN was that a good idea. 

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I want to eat you forever, soft serve.

First of all, yes, it is comically unphotogenic, or at least it is in the iPhone photos I took. While you might first look at it and think, wait, what is that, I promise it’s infinitely better than the over-the-top, cartoonish viral sensations you see on Instagram and the like.

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A perfect bite. 

It’s a pretty generous cup (which already right there, had me cause I’m not a cone girl) of thick, creamy chocolate soft serve, covered in a praline shell with hazelnut crumble and plump, tender roasted bananas. As someone who loves a variety of textures and flavors in her foods, it was perfection. Cold soft serve and warm bananas, rich chocolate and caramelized sweetness, crunchiness and creaminess. Also, having grown up in Miami in a half-Hispanic household, fried sweet plantains were a staple, and the oily, sweet, mushy ones were, and still are, my favorite. The roasted bananas here, while not exactly Instagram-bait, were reminiscent of the ones I love and because they were sweeter, I loved them even more.

I haven’t felt motivated to write here in weeks, but as soon as I cracked into that praline shell and ate a spoonful of soft serve, I knew I had to tell you about it. Trust me, don’t sleep on this one. I know what I’m talking about.

Good to the bone and straight to The Marrow

Even though I’ll still only be a subway (or two) rides away from the West Village, these are the last few days that I’ll actually be a resident of the neighborhood where I’ve spent the last two eventful years. I’ve had some great times and some not so great times here, everything from career changes to heartbreak, to the many friends who’ve crashed on my couch to getting both locked out and locked in my apartment, to laughing to crying and to everything in between. As a final hurrah and farewell, I decided to have one last big meal out in the neighborhood (though I don’t doubt I’ll be back for more soon enough) at The Marrow, Harold Dieterle’s new restaurant.

Paying homage to both the German and Italian parts of his family, Harold Dieterle has another awesome restaurant on his hands (I’m a big Kin Shop fan) that instead of mixing the two cuisines, features them separately on the menu, like different branches of a family tree. Below, how my friend Stas and I celebrated my move across the East River with one more great meal in the West Village.

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Bone Marrow… c’mon, you know we had to

First out was the restaurant’s namesake, the bone marrow, from the Famiglia Chiarelli branch of the starters section. One giant bone halved and filled with a hearty mix of sea urchin, fried potatoes and meyer lemon aioli, with crunchy toast to spread it all on. The sea urchin was not what I was expecting, with a creamy consistency and sort of neutral flavor.

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Prosciutto wrapped dates

From the meat plates portion of the menu, we picked the dangerously tasty prosciutto wrapped dates with gorgonzola. Plump, tender and crazy flavorful, I could, no lie, throw back a dozen of these. Seriously, these guys could get me in a lot of trouble.

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Duck schnitzel

Moving on to main courses, we first picked from the Familie Dieterle branch and ordered the pan-friend duck schnitzel with a nutty spaetzle of hazelnuts and quark (a dairy product of sorts) with cucumbers and stewed wolfberries, which looked kind of like small red beans but tasted like sweet, cooked raisins. (I love beans and raisins so I was totally on board.)

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Stone Bass “Vitello tonnato”

Then crossing back over to the Italian side of the menu, we chose the sautéed stone bass with fingerling potatoes, cippolini onions, briny olives, a creamy tuna belly sauce and what turned out to be my favorite part of the dish, juicy, fried sweetbreads. Usually I feel just lukewarm about sweetbreads but these were tender and delicious, with a nice breaded coating.

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Chocolate budino

Finally, we were faced with a difficult decision: dessert. Everything sounded great, and while the waiter tried pretty hard to sell us on the ginger stout cake (he said it was far and away the most popular dessert), we were both in a chocolate mood and went with the budino with hazelnut brittle and mascarpone. Chocolate pudding can do no wrong in my eyes and this one, with it’s dense creaminess, was just about perfect. This is in no way a complaint, but the thing to note about this dessert is that it’s a pretty hearty serving of chocolate. The two of us, ardent chocoholics, split this and felt pretty satisfied with the amount we each got. (No fighting necessary.)

Like so many other meals I’ve had in the West Village, I walked out happy and stuffed. Which is basically how I’ll be leaving the West Village in general, happy and stuffed full of memories. Brooklyn, here I come.