Salt & Straw Ice Cream

2035 NE Alberta (Vernon)
Portland, OR 97211
p>At the center of it all is a roster of 15 flavors: eight fairly fixed favorites and seven seasonal creations. Tyler Malek's standards begin with a 17 percent butterfat cream—high for the industry, and for good reason: He posits that our primal, involuntary response to fat can only be positive, our taste buds thanking us for the rich sustenance. His ice creams are truly creamy, thick, and velvety. Next to a scoop of commercial ice cream, they are cashmere contrasted with wool.

The overwhelming public favorite of the assortment is a sea salt ice cream with caramel ribbon. The texture of the caramel, which is personally made by Malek to maintain a viscid pull when frozen, is thick and luxurious. The custard base is clearly salty, but the salinity is expertly teased right to the brink, and intensifies the sweet caramel before washing it away in cold, refreshing cream. The salted caramel cupcake is a more complex version of this, featuring ideally dense little morsels of cake—whose presence in ice cream is difficult to manage without sog or collapse, but here results in a self-contained ice cream which eats seamlessly.

Along with their scoops and cones, Salt & Straw offers a focused assortment of unique floats, shakes, and sundaes. A sweet and sour shake of Pok Pok pomegranate drinking vinegar is smooth and sippable; a sundae of warm brownie with banana ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, and crushed hazelnuts is the menu's flagship concoction. While I personally would retool the Vacherine Glace (vanilla ice cream, black currant sorbet, espresso, hazelnut meringue) to be less soupy and more easily eaten, it is, as with all other menu items, an impeccable balance of flavors.

Nearly every ingredient is exhaustively sourced from unique, locally produced goods—from the cream, to the Bee Local Portland honey, to the Salem pears—further enhancing the shop's contribution to the welfare of the community.

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