We visited Van Leeuwen’s DTLA location to try their vegan ice cream and all we can say is, “Damn, Gina!” Jason and I are big-time snackers. We don’t even eat full-sized meals anymore; instead, we’ve relegated our food choices to the realm of snacks, which is more than fine with us. We can often be spotted roaming the aisles of our neighborhood Whole Foods, picking up packages of roasted chickpeas (you’ve got to try Saffron Road’s Korean BBQ Chickpeas), chips, roasted peas, kale chips, and pretty much anything our bank account’s contents for the day allow us to get our hands on. That’s most likely why we’re on a first name basis with everyone in our store. Life goals = achieved.
With that information given, it’s safe to say we’ve had our fair share of vegan ice creams (plural?) so we’ve acquired a developed palate for sussing out nut milks, additives, textures, and flavors. We’ve tried every brand from So Delicious to Toffuti to Coconut Bliss to Kind Kreme to everything in between and, after a FriDate dinner at Cafe Gratitude, we thought, “Why not add one more to our list and check out Van Leeuwen’s?”
Van Leeuwen Ice Cream is an artisanal ice cream shop with locations in New York and Los Angeles. The company actually started in an apartment kitchen in Brooklyn in 2008, grew into an ice cream truck, a flagship store in Williamsburg, several locations in Brooklyn and New York, and temporarily halting with an expansion in Los Angeles with various locations. Their world domination also includes pints in grocery stores . Needless to say, Van Leeuwen is here to stay and once you have a taste, you’ll know why their expansion is well-deserved and welcomed.
Jason and I visited their Arts District location in the One Santa Fe apartment complex. The space is brightly lit and cozy with white, crisp walls; natural wood paneling and menus (which I can only say were designed by someone from New York); scalloped-tiled counter; and, open space giving way to a handful of chairs and an elevated island by the window looking out onto Santa Fe. The space makes for perfect Instagram photos, but even more importantly, Van Leeuwen’s makes for perfect ice cream noshing.
Let’s get on to the good stuff, shall we?
Their menu is great but in my haste to get a taste of their cream (I saw the opportunity and I ran with it), I only took a picture of their sundae menu so I could get to ordering my sundae. I will admit I was a little confused as to whether the flavors in the sundaes could be swapped out so we ordered a sundae and kept the chocolate and pistachio ice cream only to find out that the flavors could indeed be customized so ended up changing our order at the last minute to chocolate and cookie dough. The confusion had nothing to do with the set-up and everything to do with Orange Cookies, but more on that will come in a podcast near you as we “re”-launch High Brow Discussions! (Details on that soon.)
When the sundae came we were not disappointed. It was everything you could want in a Friday night finale.
The Moment Before The “I-Should-Have-Brought-Extra-Panties” Moment
Oh yeah, you know that’s chocolate sauce drizzled over some creamy vegan whipped cream, walnuts, cacao nibs and the creamiest cashew nut milk-based vegan ice cream you’ve ever had. This stuff is good, it’s really good. It has the same texture, weight and melting process of real ice cream. It’s creamy with a soft heaviness, like a down pillow and as it melts, the outer edges of the ice cream begin to melt down your tongue, coating every taste bud in its sticky sweetness. The chocolate which, due to a mix up, was actually pistachio was good… for pistachio… but the real star of the show was the cookie dough. Their cookie dough ice cream tasted like a combination of salted caramel ice cream and some brand of decadent dark chocolate chips. My mouth was having quite the experience. In fact, it was so compelling we think we’ll have to make their treats a weekly indulgence.
If only just to take more pictures of this…
And one more…
Hotter weather approaches so check this place out before the lines stretch from One Santa Fe to Blue Bottle (at which point getting iced coffee is your better bet — go for the New Orleans Iced Coffee).
Until next time!
*Feature image via Van Leeuwen Ice Cream/Tasting Table