Jeni’s – Columbus OH

10 08 2008

After showing up after they closed on our way to Cincinnati, we were the first customers on Sunday morning here at Jeni’s. Our efforts were rewarded when we stepped inside. Heck, when we said we wouldn’t try too many samples, the guy at the counter said, “don’t worry, everyone does.” I went for two scoops in a cone with the Dark Cocoa gelato on the bottom and a Cherry Lambic sorbet on top.

Jeni’s is the sort of place that seems like a foundation for a neighborhood, so it was surprising to learn that the first shop had only opened back in 2002. They’ve now got four shops around the greater Columbus area, and a separate production kitchen. The couple that founded Jeni’s has also expanded their own family to four with two children of their own in this time span.

There are no simple flavors at Jeni’s and this embracing of new flavor combinations is what helps to make this place so special. There isn’t a mere vanilla on the menu, they have a Honey Vanilla Bean. It gives the ice cream a gourmet appeal and the portions wind up being on the petite side of things as gourmet is apt. Jeni’s uses lots of fruit and a few nuts, but their ice creams are about the flavors, not the things that are mixed in – there are no chocolate chips in their freezers.

Had we made it in for a cone late on Friday night, I can’t imagine that I would have been able to pass on the Maker’s Mark Buttered Pecan. However, at eleven on a Sunday morning with a day in the car ahead of me, it seems like a tough choice. Plus, I’d had my fair share of bourbon while I was in Kentucky during the previous 36 hours. Instead I opted for the simplicity of the dark cocoa and the refreshing cherry lambic (a far more suitable morning alcohol.

The cherry lambic was this year’s Gallo Family Vineyards Gold medal winner, and the first taste confirmed the worthiness of that designation. There was a full rich sour cherry taste that was similar to biting into frozen fruit that had been marinated in the lambic. The dark cocoa gelato was similarly potent, and their claim of putting as much chocolate as possible seems true as this tastes like a chocolate bar with about 65% cocoa. I’m only surprised that the dark chocolate wasn’t in a sorbet instead of a gelato as this darkness really doesn’t need the cream and it would make a great chocolate for those lactose intolerant customers.

Jeni’s has got two stores on High Street here in Columbus and most of the interesting aspects of off-campus life here revolve around activities somewhere on this road. The coffee shop gave me an iced coffee that was too potent even after what seemed like a half pint of milk and of sugar. This seems like a place where there is no fooling around, when a business wants to do something, they do it all the way. Next time I’m around, let’s go down down down to high street baby.

Cone – bambi $2.50 small $3.50-4 trio $4.50 large $5

Sundae – $5.75

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

714 N. High St., Columbus, OH 43215

614 294-5364

Open year round

Sunday-Thursday 11a-10p, Friday, Saturday 11a-11p