Sunday, January 4, 2015

We pay a visit to the Ballard Full Tilt venue

Like, I assume, everyone in the country, we had a busy holiday season! This left us with little time for ice cream tasting (although we did try at home Trader Joe's seasonal salted caramel gelato, which was good enough for a post-dinner fix, but not extraordinary), but now that we're settled back into our Seattle routine, we decided to get back on the ice cream band wagon. (I've decided that since I'm training for a marathon, no New Year's resolutions were harmed in the eating of this ice cream.)

We opted to try Full Tilt Ice Cream, which has been on our list for awhile. Full Tilt was opened in White Center in 2008 by Ann Magyar and Justin Cline. It is unique among the local ice cream scene in that in addition to serving ice cream and beer, they have an extensive pinball machine array. Since the original location opened, Full Tilt has expanded into three additional neighborhoods: Ballard, the University District, and Columbia City, with apparently a couple more locations planned.

We stopped by on a classic rainy Seattle afternoon. The store was slow, so we were able to try several flavors. The flavors tended toward conventional (strawberry, chocolate, vanilla), with a few interesting flavors mixed in (cardamom and ube, which is similar to sweet potato). I tasted the salted caramel and peanut butter and jelly. Unlike many of the salted caramel ice creams we've had in Seattle, this one wasn't over-salted; it wasn't as complex as my gold standard salted caramel (obviously, Bi-Rite's in SF), but wasn't a bad attempt. The peanut butter and jelly had the interesting property of actually not being unlike the experience of eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich; it somehow had an interesting, almost bread-y texture, and the peanut butter and jelly flavors were experienced separately, the same way they would be in a sandwich. It was entirely pleasant, but I wasn't sure I was interested in a whole bowl of it. In the end, I opted for classic chocolate in a cone. Forrest went with huckleberry chip and vegan coffee Oreo ice cream; the huckleberry chip had nice, bright flavor, but the ice cream had distracting ice crystals that took away from the creamy texture. Forrest thought that while the coffee Oreo was good, the coconut overtones of the vegan milk didn't pair well with the coffee flavor, which was slightly weak.

Overall, the ice cream at Full Tilt was rich and creamy; good, classic ice cream, similar to Molly Moon's or Mitchell's in San Francisco. It's not my favorite kind of ice cream, but overall it was a good experience. I love the arcade games as well; Full Tilt would be a great spot to come on a date, when you'd like to spend some time lingering after eating your ice cream. However, I don't think it's a stand-out among the places we've surveyed thus far purely based on the ice cream.

Here's the scores:

Texture - 7
Flavors - 5
Cone - 3
Execution - 7
Taste - 8
Ambiance/service/etc - 8

Total: 38/60