Helen’s – Concord MA

28 02 2011

The mountain of snow outside my window has become something more sane than it was in recent weeks. There were a few days when I couldn’t see if my car was even in the driveway until I was a few feet from it. Something about that much snow even tempered my love for good ice cream. However, when I realized that something seemed like it was missing, the solution came quick. Driving out to Concord, I sat down for a Black Raspberry Chip ice cream sundae with a load of caramel on top.

By the time I first encountered this place, it was a Brigham’s Cafe. A reliable stop if you were on a Revolutionary history quest. However, in 2003 the Brigham’s sign came off the front. While the freezers still stock Brigham’s ice cream, the name Helen’s is actually a reversion back to the original name when this place first sprang up back in 1936. Helen Denisevich was the matriarch of a legacy which has kept three generations of Concordians fed.

While you may expect something more fancy in a location like this, instead what you get here is a classic homestyle diner the way Concord can do it. There’s no dingy streetcar, just a clean and proper room strewn with tables and a small bar in the back near the freezers and grill. In the mid-afternoon the place was empty when I walked in so that bar seemed like the right place to sit for a sundae.

The flavors were all written on the chalk board, but after asking on a few, we both realized that the board needed some updating in the ice cream department as a few listed were empty. It’s tough to complain in February – as long as I get ice cream that’s not just a mass of refreeze crystals, it’s easy to be happy when all of the stands that dot the landscape are all still dormant. The black raspberry chip was full enough to scoop.

Brigham’s is like old reliable… it’s a baseline for New England ice creams, and if you aren’t making something better than this, you should head back to the drawing board. That’s not to say this sundae wasn’t exactly what I needed, but if you aren’t working at least at this level, there’s really no need to bother. The black raspberry seemed extra fruity, but maybe that was due to it being offset by a mass of whipped cream and caramel. Whatever the rationale, this was good.

Walking around Concord, I realized there are a few more places that will be serving scoops when the weather heats up, and even discovered that a new homemade place will be opening in West Concord later in the spring (we’ll keep an eye and cover this as soon as the doors open). Oh, and one special note for anyone heading to Helen’s – no matter how much you are planning to eat, bring cash, they don’t take anything else.

Cone – micro $2.99 small $3.49 regular $3.99 large $4.49

Sundae – small $4.49 medium $5.49 large $6.99

Frappe $4.99 malted $5.49

Helen’s Restaurant

17 Main Street, Concord, MA  01742

978 369 9885

Open year round

Hours 7a?-7?p