Somehow, we made it to Ron’s before they closed, it seemed like we tried everything in our power to be late. We even got halfway there before I realized I left my camera on my friends’ couch and we turned back around. As it were four of us made our way down to Hyde Park, and no one was disappointed. I took on a Brownie Nut cone.
Ron’s is a candlepin bowling alley, but over the years since they started making ice cream in the early eighties, what they’re known for has certainly changed. This place is revered for their ice cream, being both the Phantom Gourmet’s favorite, and even more notably, named the third best ice cream in the world by National Geographic. All of this from humble beginnings that only began when their soft-serve supplier sent them the wrong stuff.
Inside is a marvel, if you face toward the bowling, you see ten lanes that look like you could be anywhere in the USA. Turn around and you get a classic old style ice cream parlor. There are a bunch of booths comfortably spaced around the area, though I’m sure cones are not welcome on the parquet. There’s lots of signage on the brick facades outside, but no exterior seating as it is located on a high speed thoroughfare that cuts from Jamaica Plain to Milton.
Apparently, Ron’s trip to international notoriety came in the early nineties when Hillary Clinton stopped here while campaigning for health care. She sent Secret Service agents back for more and later spoke of Ron’s on CNN as her favorite ice cream she’d ever have. From there things spiraled, and nearly every local celebrity has made a pit stop here while in the neighborhood.
I started with a sample of the Peanut Butter Explosion, which was just as it said, a truly amazing peanut butter ice cream, and then sampled Lemon Coolers (they used to be my favorite cookies growing up but now you can’t find them anywhere). The peanut butter seemed to heavy for a whole cone at the moment, and the lemon washed my palate (would be a perfect after-lunch cone when you don’t have the freedom to take a nap). For no good reason, I turned to the brownie nut to fill my cone. It was a fantastic blend of elements that tasted like a brownie sundae reconfigured put back into the freezer. The brownies and chocolate were great and the ice cream easily matches up with any other local city ice cream. My only problem was that my cone came from the bottom of the barrel, so the nuts weren’t strikingly fresh as they can be in the best ice cream, but odds are good when they make the next batch, that will be remedied. This is a place to take all of your friends that will remind you of the possibilities available in places we don’t think to go around town.
We decided that a place like this was worth making an event of it, which is why it’s taken so long for us to get here. We piled into Sam’s van and four of us made the trek together. Sam and Shane each had bowls of ice cream with two flavors (Sam: Banana & Grapenut, Shane: Cheesecake & Birthday Bash) (aside: the birthday bash was the only flavor that went unfinished, but that’s because it’s super sweet, even those that like cake batter were astonished that this went to the amazing extremes that it does, good, but overwhelming), while Greg had a cone like I did (he’d recently found his way to Rota Spring, so he had a basis for comparison when it comes to the best around).
Cone – kids $2.75 regular $3.50 large $4.50
Sundae – kids $3.75 regular $4.75 large $5.75 XL $6.75
Frappe $4.95 extra thick $5.95
Ron’s Gourmet Ice Cream & 20th Century Bowling
Open year round
Monday-Thursday 7:30a-10p, Friday-Saturday 7:30a-11p, Sunday 9a-10p