Lago’s Lone Oak Ice Cream – Rye NH

28 04 2009

After extending my stay in Portland a day longer than I’d anticipated, I found myself with no obligations until I needed to get to MIT for my radio show. Having meandered up Route 1, I made my way hastily back to New Hampshire before I detoured around the tolls. It was just south of Portsmouth that I snacked upon Cookie Monster in a sugar cone.

lago's lagos lone oak ice cream rye seacoast nh

I can’t find much on this place as far as any sense of history goes. I think I stopped here at one point with my dad when I was in junior high and was trying to buy my first stereo. I know that we went to State Street Discount which is close to across the street, and then we had ice cream somewhere nearby. No idea about what flavor I had, and I wound up picking up all of my Technics unit at a store in the Pheasant Lane Mall.

There’s a second location for Lago’s that’s over in Rochester. Actually I’m not sure which is first and which is second, but if you check the website, the Rochester store has a way better logo as they make it look like the Man in the Mountain is licking a cone. This place is pretty prefab with a long line of windows for selling scoops through and an indoor seating area on one end.

Lago’s offers a ton of flavor options. Limiting myself to just the hard ice cream, I had to try their Indian Pudding ice cream first. They bill it as their fall flavor and without the richness offered in farm-based ice cream shoppes, it didn’t have the boldness to make it transcend seasons. I averted myself from the Chocolate Monkey as soon as I realized it was just their variation on banana and chocolate. That’s when I noticed the sign at the bottom – intended for those half my height – for Cookie Monster ice cream.

A simple vanilla base is dyed a light blue color, in an attempt to resemble the fur color of my favorite Muppet. What they add to that are Oreos, animal crackers, and chocolate chip cookies. The cookies all fight for space and bring interesting flavors to each bite, with none dominating overall, but each bite having very distinct characteristics. The blue vanilla was a very simple flavor and while this cone may have been carried better by other bases, none of them are easy to make blue.

cookie monster lago's lone oak ice cream rye nh

There’s a load of picnic tables in the adjacent lot, and I tried to get them all in this shot, but got a few at least. I was hoping all of this green would bring the blue in the cone out, but this image appears far more aqua than the reality. There’s signage over here that makes it seem as though that area is used for events during the summer, or maybe they just set up an auxiliary stand for overflow.

Cone – baby $2.50 kids $3.25 small $3.75 large $4.25 triple$5.25

Sundae – small $5 large $5.75 super $6.75

Frappe $4.75 extra-thick $5.50

Lago’s Lone Oak Ice Cream

71 Lafayette Rd, Rye, NH‎

603 964-9880‎

Open year April-October

Daily noon-9p


UNH Dairy Bar – Durham NH

12 09 2008

Google got me lost again. I should have paid more attention, but they inconveniently swapped out a “Ln” for a “Rd” and I wound up miles from where I wanted to be. Thankfully I knew that this spot was on the UNH campus and at the train station, so finding it was easy. The balloons helped lead me to a Mint Explosion cone.

The balloons up on Main St because today was the Grand Opening of the UNH Dairy Bar. While it was actually more of a re-opening, this wasn’t merely a factor of the new semester, the building had just completed a nearly million dollar renovation. It’s still the same old train station that was moved from Lynn more than eighty years before.

The new facility is clean and modern and still serves as both a campus dining spot, Amtrak depot, and an ice cream parlor. There are seats and booths inside and a bar that runs parallel to the tracks and has floor to ceiling windows. There’s also extensive seating outside under an awning right by the tracks (most of those waiting had no cones), and for those interested in something more active, you can watch field hockey practice on an adjacent field.

With a new menu that proclaims itself as “Local. Sustainable. Fresh.,” it’s more than a bit odd that the source of ice cream at this place is not UNH’s own dairy. Instead of offering their own ice cream and having this be the primary outlet, the ice cream instead comes from Blake’s, a local New Hampshire company. I guess UNH has no ice cream sciences degree as I was hoping this spot would be more like UConn, Mizzou, Penn State, or Cornell, but alas.

I tasted the graham central station, but it paled in comparison to the place in Scranton, so I dove in to test out the mint explosion. The ice cream was a strong mint with a light green hue. It probably could have been a bit sweeter, but instead the mint was highlighted more. The candies inside the ice cream were chocolate covered mint, and even the chocolate swirl seemed to have minty overtones. Being the first day in operation, the cone was fresh and free from any elements of refreeze that September is so prone to bring out. If you want a mint to kick you in the pants, this should fit the bill.

For what would be the end of the season at most places, it’s always strange when you get served a cone with as precarious a sense of balance as this – there was almost no ice cream inside the cone and what was there kept trying to fall out of its own accord. It seemed like they overdelegate responsibilities as one person took my order, another took my money, and a third served me my cone. I guess this spot is run by the school’s restaurant management department. The full menu available looked both good and affordable, and it accepts UNH’s meal plan money as well. If I were a student, I can’t imagine needing to make it into a cafeteria except for the mornings when I want to binge on cereal and French toast.

Cone – regular $2.59 large $3.29

Sundae – regular $3.99 large $4.99

Frappe $3.59

UNH Dairy Bar

4 Depot Rd, Durham NH 03824

603 862-1006

Open year round

Monday-Friday 6:30a-8p Saturday & Sunday 11a-8p

Aloha – Hampton Beach NH

31 07 2008

Sometimes ice cream has only one purpose, and that’s to cool folks down and bring a smile. In such cases we ignore some of the other indiscretions, because we feel better just by eating ice cream and not because the stuff is any good, just because it is there. Beachside parlors are certainly like this, and we were suckers. I went for a Butter Pecan cone, Sam had a Peppermint Stick.

If you look on the internet, this place doesn’t seem to exist. Sam and I didn’t use his GPS to steer us here either. It was all a matter of heading to the beach so we could play catch and the fact that our parking spot was right across the street from this spot. If we hadn’t been in the midst of a day of mad consumption this wouldn’t have fared so poorly, but even the sand between our toes couldn’t save it.

Red flag #1 was parked out front. While the signs declared this was Aloha Homemade Ice Cream, the Rosev (nee Hood) truck was parked right out front and was loading things in. Maybe Hood was only supplying the soft-serve as there was one of those obnoxious pink flags with 40 different flavors that took up an entire wall of the store. Even the name Aloha just seems out of place in New Hampshire.

Red flag #2 was our exquisite customer service. “I’d like butter pecan in a sugar cone.” Almost a minute later the girl looked up at me with a wafer cone in her hand and asked if I wanted a twist. I think I was lost for a moment since I couldn’t figure out how you would twist hard ice cream and change the cellular matter of the cone.

The ice cream wasn’t anything to write home about. In fact, Sam asked if I just skipped over the places that weren’t good, but I feel as obligated to steer folks away from bad ice cream as I do to alert them to great stuff. There wasn’t much flavor here at all…. neither the cream, butter, nor pecan did anything. Despite the benefit of the beach this seemed old and stale with soft pecans and lots of refreeze. If you’re in New Hampshire swimming, look around for other options.

Somehow all of these problems are sort of swept under the carpet. Even if a quarter only gets you ten minutes of parking, the chance to spend time on the beach erases any indiscretions. Thankfully those indiscretions didn’t carry over to Sam and I reciprocating the flirting we were getting from some girls nearby (because when they got near we realized that they were younger than his little sister). A few jumps through the waves after diving in the sand for some errant throws makes whatever seemed bad disappear.

Cone – kids $2.75 small $3.75 medium $4.25 large $4.75

Sundae – small $4.75 medium $5.75 large $6.75

Frappe/shake $5.25

Aloha Homemade Ice Cream

Ocean Blvd, Hampton Beach NH


Open seasonally

Hours #a-#p?

no web mentions?

Strawberry Alley – Portsmouth NH

30 07 2008

While technology can be great at times, it doesn’t know everything. Sometimes the human memory wins out. None of the locals we asked even knew this place existed. I knew that I found ice cream in that spot before, so I put on my most confident strut and was relieved when we saw a bunch of folks with cones. In honor of the name, I had a Strawberry cone. Sam got Grapenut.

There is a reason that none of the locals know that this place exists. It is really meant to serve the tourist portion of town as Strawberry Alley is located in the Jefferson House – part of the Strawberry Bank Museum. It also conveniently caters to the crowds that gather for all of the summer events in Prescott Park, just across the street. The museum is a Colonial-themed historical re-enactment with most of the homes in their original site right near the harbor. Think Williamsburg without the rollercoasters or fair food… maybe just think Sturbridge Village by the sea.

For some reason, I always thought that the ice cream parlor didn’t  come about until the 1950’s, but the museum has been running this through Portsmouth summers for years. They don’t require these employees to wear period garb, so it really is a moment out of time. I’ll forgive these transgressions for the sake of ice cream, though ideally, I would make the ice cream using colonial methods and make that an interactive exhibit (we could use freezers for storage).

My dreams of antiquely homemade ice cream are dashed as soon as I see the Annabelle’s sign. They don’t even make the ice cream here. Annabelle’s delivers it to them from just down the street. The options here are limited to around a dozen, and most of the flavors are pretty conventional. The realization of where I am makes me remember an edict that I issued to myself that when I go somewhere that has got something special in their name, that I should just go for that. Strawberry calling.

The ice cream was off though. Maybe the fact that this ice cream doesn’t sell at the clip it does at Annabelle’s itself and thus wasn’t as fresh was the whole of the issue. However, it seemed off. The cream had bitten the tang of strawberry off, and the results were a pinkish cream. The strawberry pieces showed the effect of refreeze as well. Leads me to another of those get it where they make it decrees that I need to adhere to more.

This place is really a scoop shop. All that is offered are three sizes of cones, with the option to upgrade to a waffle cone or add sprinkles. There’s nowhere to sit, but as long as the weather allows, the gardens of Prescott Park are right across the street or you can walk all the way to the water’s edge.

Cone – kiddie $2.25 regular $2.60 large $3.25

Strawberry Alley – The Strawberry Bank Museum Ice Cream Shop

Marcy St, Portsmouth NH 03802-0300

603 433-1100

Open seasonally

Hours #a-#p

Annabelle’s – Portsmouth NH

20 07 2008

Nature seemed out to doom celebrations of National Ice Cream Day. As I made my last stop on my way out of Portand, the deluge began. Most of the trip south on 95 I was battling torrential rains. I would bet most ice cream shops fare poorly once a drizzle is even forecast. By the time I made it to New Hampshire, it had cleared up and I was ready for a New Hampshire Maple Walnut cone.

Since 1982, Lewis E. Palosky has been making ice cream in Portsmouth that makes everyone happy. From the families walking along the water’s edge to the socialites poking their head into all of the downtown shops, everyone seems to enjoy Annabelle’s and Portsmouth. The town is like the gateway to Southern Maine, with the added benefit of being tax-free.

This is where the residents go for a scoop. The spot that is now Izzy’s marks the top of the street you need to walk down to find Annabelle’s. Lots of people get sidetracked by that first glimpse of ice cream and then only notice the giant ice cream cone on the wall later. With that icon and the ease of a Take Out window that opens onto the street, it’s likely that people who notice it will come back and give it a try instead next time.

After opting for something truly Maine just hours before, I wasn’t sure what option was going to stand out here and compel me to eat it. Once I read over the menu, the local option of New Hampshire maple walnut seemed glaringly obvious. Certainly most folks more associate maple with Vermont, but you can get it from the trees of both the Green and White mountains.

First things first, there were great walnuts in here, fresh pieces and you were apt to get a few in every bite, enough to forgive the fact they were from California. After relishing in the joy of great walnuts, I realized that the maple flavor was not overpowering. Instead of covering the tongue as it is prone to, the maple came in as an aftertaste with a subtle lingering punch. Tasting for the maple in the front, it was there, but it was as though maple wasn’t so much used as as flavor as it was used in lieu of granulated sugar at its base. The results were great.

You can get to Annabelle’s from an old stone staircase that leads down from Market Street. It’s the setting of this spot that is special, as it’s easy to imagine this as the saloon where the sailors who were doing the grunt work would come in at the end of a shift. The other side of the street isn’t full of shops, it’s boats moored on the docks (some permanently and now serving as restaurants).

Return visit:

Cone – regular $2.95 large $3.75

Sundae – regular $5.25 super $6.25

Frappe $4.95 extra thick $5.50

Annabelle’s Natural Ice Cream

49 Ceres Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801

603 436-3400

Open year round

Daily 11a-10p