Graeter’s – Newport KY

9 08 2008

In New England, there are times when the Merrimack or the Connecticut River can flood and make a mess of things in their wake, but more often than not, things stay in check. Along the Ohio river, folks are more prepared for bigger catastrophes, and near cities the banks are often lined my levees. In Newport, Kentucky, the levee is a center of culture or at least a street fair with merchants and performers. Not far from there is where I landed a Tangerine Cream cone.

Cincinnati is one of those great river cities of the Midwest. It’s tucked in the Southeast corner of Ohio not too far from the Indiana border, but more importantly, if you cross the river, you wind up in Kentucky, and that is both where we were staying and where the wedding we were venturing to this territory was. On the Cincy side of the river is where all of the professional sports stadiums are, in Kentucky were all of the signs of modern suburban culture.

Graeter’s is far from modern or suburban as it was founded in Cincinnati way back in 1870 by some first generation Bavarian immigrants. Louis C Graeter perfected a process of making ice cream in small batches, which was necessary in an era long before refrigeration. It’s that same “French Pot” process that Graeter’s uses to this day making all of their ice cream in two gallon batches.

This store was a block away from the levee and a perfect stop for after lunch. A meal of dense, bean-laden burritos made me look for something on the lighter side after I found out they were out of their signature Buckeye Blitz (a peanut butter and chocolate combo). With an ice cream that prides itself on its density (claiming to weigh twice as much per volume as other cones), Grater’s seemed primed to linger in my stomach until I spied their seasonal flavors.

Peach was the loser in the coin flip that got me a tangerine cream cone. The tangerine was lighter than most orange flavors but somehow more refreshingly citrusy without battling against the cream. The cream was blended with the flavors and instead of operating like a creamsicle had qualities more like a berry cone with the flavor spread throughout. It was dense, though a bit icy in a way that it didn’t seem as though there were any of the egg custard that usually is blended in the French potting process. After finding a Graeter’s chocolate bar in the bag of wedding stuff, I was only miffed that this ice cream lacked chips.

The aquarium is right around the corner from this site and lots of the statues and architecture seem to point you into an aquatic frame of mind. I’m not sure that either marlins or sharks are native to Ohio, and I guess that even the catfish is more connected with places downriver toward Memphis. This building lacks any nautical themes, but what’s amazing is that while it’s brickwork seems nearly brand new, the design is something that Louis Graeter probably dreamt of occupying way back in the day when he was looking for a first locale.

Cone – single $2.95 double $4.35

Sundae – simple $4.25 double $5

Milkshake – regular $4.25 large $5.25

Graeter’s Ice Cream

342 Monmouth St, Newport, KY 41071

859 261-3160

Open year round

Hours #a-#p