It began on an innocent lovely Los Angeles morning. We couldn't stay inside, and decided to drive over to Franklin Canyon and hike around. Things we did not consider: the time of day (arriving at noon) and the temperature in the mountains (90+ degrees). If you're questioning our judgment at this point, don't worry, we did too the moment we arrived on site. And yet, our naive selves were determined to climb and so climb we did; up the nearly vertical incline with no tree coverage. As you can assume, the trip back down the trail was hurried, uncoordinated and desperate. Reaching the car huffing and having lost about 10 collective pounds in sweat weight, we knew ice cream would be the only remedy. Mashti Malone's was waiting at the ready on our list, so we screeched over to N La Brea and beelined it for their shop.
Housed in a nondescript strip mall, Mashti Malone’s has been serving their Persian-style ice cream since 1980. The place is small with modest design, sporting two ice cream displays, a pint fridge and a couple dining tables. With two cases to run through - classic flavors on the left and Persian flavors on the right - we asked the server to take us along the Persian side. How often do you get to try Date, Ginger Rosewater, French Lavender or Herbal Snow (rosewater and lime sorbet with basil and poppy seeds)? With so many unique tastes, it was difficult to narrow it down but eventually we settled on sharing Turkish Coffee and Creamy Rosewater in a cup. No idea why we split the cup; honestly, we were delirious at this point.
Though the flavors were adventuresome, our need for cooling down from an afternoon in the sun might have curbed our confusion over the consistency of the ice cream. Translating to bastani in Farsi, Ice cream is referred to by many Iranians as akbar mashti, after one of the first makers of ice cream in Iran. It's made by heating the dairy before adding other ingredients, which makes for a distinctive flavor. Other than the flavor profiles, what felt most wild about the ice cream was its almost loose, elastic quality. Bizarre, but certainly fun to try.
Overall they offer a range of regular and exotic flavors at a fair price. Check out Mashti Malone's if you’re looking to try a different style of ice cream as well as knock off an LA standby along the way.
Establishment Aesthetic: 2.00
Flavor Variety: 4.00
Product Quality: 3.00
Ah Sawtelle, the Asian food mecca of the west side. Here you can find anything from ramen and sushi to curry and sweets. You can also find Honeymee, a popular soft-serve shop with sufficient online buzz and a consistent line to the door. Their Sawtelle location has been open since 2015 and is one of a whopping 16 shops in California. We ventured there last Friday night, hoping to kick off the weekend with a scoop of heaven.
The shop is bitty - essentially a stall - with the menu resting above their serving booth. There are 7 menu options, each with milk soft-serve + set toppings. Essentially they're just variations of the same thing. You'll find no wacky or even classic ice cream flavors here. The options are Darling (plain), Sweetie (drizzled honey), Dear Chocolate (Ghirardelli chocolate syrup + sea salt), Dear Caramel (Ghirardelli caramel syrup + sea salt), Honeymee (1 honeycomb chunk), Honey Affogato (drizzled honey + coffee) and Matcha Affogato (honey + matcha). They also offer milkshakes and a couple other drinks but come on, we're here for the ice cream. With such choices, samples aren't really an option here so we figured we'd go for their classic Sweetie with drizzled honey.
We only ordered one, thinking we'd get another after tasting it, but immediately changed our minds. No need. We honestly couldn't understand the hype about this place. It was simply regular - not mind blowing - soft-serve, with some honey drizzled on it. Oh and the serving cups are so dang small for the high price. What are you paying for here? A transient atmosphere, mediocre soft-serve, a small array of dull flavors and cheap toppings?
Needless to say, we won't be stopping in for another try. If you want honeycomb cuteness for your instagram story, stop in. Otherwise, go elsewhere for your next adventure in soft-serve.
Establishment Aesthetic: 2.50
Flavor Variety: 1.00
Product Quality: 3.00
Okay, so our last few stops have been “LA staples” and you’re probably thinking, ‘dear god, how many classics can there be?!’ Well, we’ve got one more. Saffron & Rose has been serving to their dedicated Los Angeles customers since the 1970s. With its proximity to UCLA and a long-standing presence in the west side community, the shop draws a diverse crowd of regulars; from first dates and college students to families and old timers.
To start, there is nothing special or even indicative of a brand about this place. The shop was very small and truly packed, with a line straight back from the display to the door and groups seated on either side. Walls, floors, chairs, everything is gray, apart from a couple jarring yet unexciting saffron(?) yellow accents. The space decidedly does not invite you to 'scream for ice cream.' Their display case shows a cramped set of trays, with both classic and Persian flavors. Our efficient server helped us to try a few flavors like Banana, Passion Fruit and Orange Blossom. Paige settled on Cookies & Cream and Banana and Katherine chose Orange Blossom and Saffron with Pistachio in a cup.
There’s no way to get around it, this ice cream was not good. The flavors were all artificial and poorly crafted. The chunks of clotted cream in the Saffron with Pistachio flavor were an unfortunate surprise, especially given they tasted more like vaguely milky, chalky ice cubes. We couldn’t quite put our finger on what was off with the consistency, until Paige thought of it. You know when you accidentally leave a pint out for too long and after being re-frozen it has a strange, lumpy frostbitten quality? Well, that's Saffron & Rose ice cream. We didn’t even finish our cups (and that never happens).
After being told about this place for years, nothing about it lived up to expectations. If you want to check off an LA staple, go by Saffron & Rose. But maybe stop yourself from eating any ice cream.
Establishment Aesthetic: 1.00
Flavor Variety: 2.50
Product Quality: 1.00
This weekend we set out to try Scoops as well as Bloomfield Creamery. An ambitious Saturday that quickly derailed as Scoops no longer exists and Bloomfield is closed for renovations. With a swift recovery we found Atticus Creamery & Pies, just across the street from the Westside Pavilion.
The inviting and unassuming shop opened in 2014, selling both ice cream and pies made daily in-house. Their server took us through their most popular flavors and before we knew it we'd tried Cereal and Milk, Lemon Lavender, York Peppermint, Honey Honeycomb and Banana Chocolate Peanut Butter. She even offered samples of their pies of the day! Though we didn't end up settling on one of their vegan options, we sampled Sweet Corn and Vanilla Chai, each just as smooth and lovely as the regular flavors.
After taking a few surprised glances at the menu board, we realized how expensive these scoops would be - one single scoop is $5 and 2 junior scoops (the only way to get 2 flavors) are $4 each - and decided to split a cup. Paige with her favorite, Banana Chocolate Peanut Butter and Katherine with York Peppermint.
Atticus should brag more about the consistency of their product. It is smooooth. What pleasant ice cream with great variety in flavors that could satisfy even the pickiest ice cream enthusiast. The catch here is their serving size and pricing, it's the only thing keeping us from returning so soon. However if you're looking to try some truly velvety ice cream, skip over to Atticus Creamery & Pies for a scoop.
Establishment Aesthetic: 3.50
Product Quality: 4.00
Flavor Variety: 4.00