By Lauren Smith
Los Angeles, Calif.
Princeton residents know their ice cream. There are three ice cream parlors within walking distance of each other, each with its own unique style, flavors, and ambience.
The Bent Spoon, a small, cozy parlor established in 2004, sits on a narrow strip on the west side of Palmer Square. There are just three tables in the shop, so it’s not the best place for large crowds.
Its fans, however, couldn’t care less.
Long-time customer Christin Mertz said she comes to The Bent Spoon “way too often, according to my wallet—and my waistline.” As she described the shop, her face lit up like a kid in a candy shop, or in this case, an ice cream shop. “It’s different, creamy, sweet. It reminds me of summer,” she said. Mertz said that she was loyal to The Bent Spoon, skipping other shops in the area.
If, at first, you do not recognize the taste or smell of savory ice cream, do not be alarmed. The Bent Spoon specializes in flavors that are anything but normal. The shop rotates more than 500 flavors, with common favorites like sweet basil, dark chocolate sorbet, and blueberry mascarpone. These unique flavors are what keep “Spooners” coming back.
Even first-timers walk away with a smile on their face. A 70-year-old fan said the hazelnut flavor reminded her of Italy. She said she was impressed by the fact that their ice cream was organic, locally produced and still delicious. “Almost as good as the best Italian ice cream,” she said.
Do not let Halo Pub’s name or décor deceive you. Although it is decorated like a British pub, the shop is a center for families and students searching for quality ice cream. Established in 1975 on Hulfish Street, the Pub is known for affordable prices.
“We make our own ice cream,” said Antone Newlan, the manager of Halo Pub. “It’s all-natural with no additives. We’re an alternative.” The Pub has 48 flavors of hard ice cream and 10 flavors of soft. Some of their flavors include chocolate peanut butter, rum raisin, maple walnut, and cherry vanilla.
Halo Pub is much larger than The Bent Spoon. Customers at Halo Pub said that the low prices and larger seating area made it their favorite of the three major ice cream parlors.
Thomas Sweet was established in 1980 at the University’s request, according to Joe Beckett, the store’s manager. Thomas Sweet offers a “blend-in” option, where customers can pick a favorite flavor to be mixed with up to three toppings.
Parties, team victories, and University reunions often descend on Thomas Sweet’s central location on Nassau Street. Michelle Klein, a five-year customer, said she divides her time between The Bent Spoon and Thomas Sweet, and that parking availability often helps her determine which shop to visit.
Thomas Sweet may not have the most unique flavors, but sometimes customers just want something simple. “If I want unique, I go to Bent Spoon,” Klein said.
The people in Palmer Square on a summer day are as different as the ice cream flavors in these shops. Whether you like unusual or traditional flavors, you will find a place to eat ice cream in the town of Princeton.