Nanabette’s – Woburn MA

29 05 2011

Nothing is better than Summer creeping in on Memorial Day weekend, except when you’ve gotta work in the afternoon and thus your chance at all potential barbecues is eliminated. With an early afternoon deadline on my fun, I set out to find something for my belly, even if it didn’t come from an open grill. I pointed to Woburn, where I found a hot dog and a Graham Central Station cone.

Judging simply by its architecture, it’s an easy guess that Nanabette’s was built no later than the early ’70s and most likely sometime in the ’50s. The building is shoehorned into a lot that’s on the acute side of an irregular intersection. While it looks like an old style drive-in, the thought of waitresses rollerskating across Main Street is perilous, and they’d have to. The parking is covered by the lot across the street that services a Walgreens and an AutoCenter.

On one side of the building is a triangle of sidewalk with a couple of trees to provide cover, on the other is a row of picnic tables. While I was here, a mother steered her kids back across the street to eat cones in their SUV rather than the tables, telling the kids, “you don’t want to sit there.” In the middle of the daytime, such a warning seemed to be overdoing it a bit, but she’s likely got a better sense of local history to know what’s up in this area.

With an empty belly, I started myself with a hot dog, which was boiled and wholly unexceptional. Heck, I thought that I might have been on some hidden camera show when I couldn’t figure out how to open mustard packets without getting my fingers all yellowed. Looking back across the menu for cone flavors, I realized that the ice cream here comes from Bliss Dairy and I asked for the graham central station in a sugar cone.

It came in a waffle cone, and by the time I realized I’d been charged accordingly, the kid working was already back to his iPhone and ignoring me completely. This flavor still works though, and the graham ice cream makes for such a fun taste rather than just getting soggy crackers in a simple vanilla. Thankfully, the ice cream was packed to the bottom rather than being perched on the top lip of the cone as too many waffle cones have been for me lately, and this more than made up for the mediocrity of the hot dog.

This place may not be a hidden jewel, but as a place to get a solid cone, it more than works. Plus the fact that I parked in an AutoZone parking lot made me walk in there and pick up some much needed new windshield wipers. Good ice cream and visibility during rain make this seem like a pretty good stop.

Cone – kiddie $3 small $3.50 medium $4.15 large $4.95

Sundae – regular $4.95 jumbo $5.95

Frappe – regular $5.75 jumbo $6.95

Nanabette’s Ice Cream, Hot Dogs, and More …

156 Main St, Woburn, MA 01801

781 935-0205

Open March?-October?

Daily noon-9p

Sullivan Farms – Tyngsboro MA

21 05 2011

There’s something about dressing up a bit that changes the way people react to you, and usually not as though you’ve just come from a funeral service. Since I was wearing a tie, I got stopped in the grocery store with questions about where stuff was stocked. Here in Tyngsboro, I think the girl making my cone wanted to see how much Black Forest I could spill on my short as the ice cream was both soft and ridiculously overflowing.

Located on the opposite side of the street from the Merrimack River, Sullivan Farms offers some great vistas on 3A just south of the 113 bridge. It’s tough to tell how long this place has been around, but the question isn’t so much a number of years, but more a number of generations. For folks north and west of Lowell, this seems to be a second home with a full parking lot and people swarming in the mid afternoon.

What’s most impressive is that when you walk around this ice cream shack and find a hilly field peppered with picnic tables and a gazebo set above them all. I stood by a table, but realized with the abundance of ice cream in my cone that if I did, half would be on my pants, so I stood next to a table on some fresh mulch – figuring the mulch was a better landing spot for a half scoop than my clothes.

With the ice cream made here on premises, nearly anything on their overflowing menu board seems like a pretty good option. I sampled some sweet cream/nut flavor, but deferred when I realized that the only nuts were walnuts rather than any sort of assortment. The thought of chocolate ice cream with chips and cherries seemed the best bet, so I opted for the black forest (though this flavor is probably best in a sundae where you can integrate the proper whipped cream portion as well).

The size of this cone was startling, but then I realized how close we were to Kimball’s and that any nearby places need to compete accordingly. Plus I was offered a dish, since she did realize that it was going to be problematic. The ice cream was fresh and nice, not quite to the same quality standards as Kimball’s maybe, but certainly on par with any other shops along the Merrimack toward the sea.

I did lose two half scoops in a bit of consuming triage, but it all made the rest of the cone go down all the better. Thankfully, I didn’t get anything on my dress shirt or tie, though hopefully I don’t have any more summer funeral services to attend. This scoop, and this day, was in honor of my 4th grade teacher Mr Stein.

Cone – kiddie $3 regular $3.75 large $4.75

Sundae – kiddie $4 regular $5 xl $7.50

Frappe $4.50 xtra-thick $5.75

Sullivan Farms Homemade Ice Cream

176 Middlesex Road, Tyngsboro, MA 01879

978 649 9202

Open March?-November?

Hours 10:30a-10p

Concord Ave Cafe – Cambridge MA

17 05 2011

It’s pretty near impossible to count the number of times I’ve driven past this location. In a way I lumped it in with convenience stores that have ice cream proclaimed on their window even when that merely means a freezer case full of bomb pops. My wariness here was due to the fact that sushi and noodles share the same font point. I ventured in and found an Oreo cone.

This small family-fun business is lost in the Huron Village neighborhood west of Harvard Square in Cambridge. It seems like the sort of international hodge podge of a cafe that you would find in a college town that couldn’t support a Japanese restaurant on its own. Instead they have a little bit of everything, and lots of vegetarian specialties, and all of it is at prices that seem a decade or so behind where they usually are.

Located at the corner of Concord Ave and Walden St, there’s not a ton of space inside, but a few small tables ring the room and heck, there’s even wi-fi in case you want to be scrolling through your iPad as you eat. There’s not any outdoor seating here, and it’s a bit too far from Fresh Pond to make it there with a cone, unless you’re just finishing your last bite as you walk around.

The freezer case itself is pretty small with only ten flavors to choose from, and the selections weren’t ones that were made in the store, but brought in from elsewhere locally. It was the lighting in the case that made me think the oreo was a coffee oreo ice cream, so that was the choice that I landed on from the choices available.

The freezer case isn’t kept at sub-arctic temperatures, so the ice cream had a soft consistency that made it easy  to eat through, but the cookies held in solution hadn’t all turned to mush either. The only real oddity was that there were no sugar cones, instead the cones were wafer cones as you’d expect from soft-serve, however their shape was conical like you’d expect from a sugar cone. The results were a nice treat, and best of all a cheap one with a small cone leaving change for a tip when you plunk down $2.

Wandering around this area, I found a place who makes their own sorbet that I need to return to, but more interestingly was when I stepped into Formaggio Kitchen and spied Jeni’s ice cream from Columbus Ohio in their freezer case… though at $12.95 a pint that one may get saved for special occasions.

Cone – 1scoop $1.75 2scoop $2.50 3scoop $3.25

Sundae $3.75

Smoothie $3.50

Concord Avenue Cafe

294 Concord Ave, Cambridge MA 02138

617 547 8835

Open year round

Hours Mon-Fri 7:30a-8:30p, Sat 8:30a-8:30p, Sun 9a-5p