You scream! I scream!
Gelato joints, roadside stands, custard counters and other ice cream stops
Published: August 10, 2011
Ashby's Sterling Ice Cream Parlor 46540 Van Dyke, Shelby Twp.; 586-268-6222: This old-fashioned ice cream parlor serves 44 flavors of premium, hand-dipped ice cream. No shortcuts here: Ashby's starts off with the creamiest 14 percent butterfat ice cream mix and adds your favorite ingredients. In addition to ice cream, choose from shakes, malts, floats and sodas to settle your sweet tooth. Ashby's also carries Alpine Chocolat Haus of Gaylord items, which include caramel corn and brittle.
Bloomberry 30274 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak; 248-554-0036: Self-serve frozen yogurt joint has several flavors to choose from, scads of fruit and candy toppings to add as well. On a recent day, flavors on tap included vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, pomegranate, California tart, birthday cake and blueberry.
Bob Jo's 4071 Fort St., Wyandotte; 734-282-6818: A fixture on Fort Street since the late 1950s (it was moved from Eureka and Fort, where it was founded in 1947), this Downriver roadside stand specializes in custard and yogurt, and patrons aren't fussy. Most people seem to like their "twist cones," the familiar combination soft-serve treat. You can get a medium twist for $2.44. Each week, Bob Jo's offers vanilla and chocolate custard and a twist, as well as one of about 25 special flavors (last week, it was Blue Moon). They also serve frozen yogurt that's free of sugar, cholesterol and fat. Sprinkles are extra, but they offer no hard-shell ice cream topping. Closing for the season in mid-September.
Burk's Igloo 10300 Conant, Hamtramck; 313-872-6830: The corner cone booth adorned with a cartoon igloo and a friendly penguin attracts people of all ages with popular short-order menu items ranging from a coney dog and fries to their best-selling Avalanche ice cream dessert. The Avalanche (similar to Dairy Queen's Blizzard) starts with a small ($3) and ranges all the way up to a monster-sized Avalanche ($7.50 plus tax), which comes complete with 46 ounces of soft-serve ice cream crammed with whatever kind of candy you and the kid inside of you crave. Burk's has kept locals lining up for their ice cream since the 1960s, and is open this summer from noon to 10 p.m., seven days a week. After school starts, they are open until 9 p.m.
Calder Brothers Dairy 1020 Southfield Rd., Lincoln Park; 313-381-8858; calderdairy.com: Having logged 65 years of operation, the Calder Brothers' spot may be the last remaining Downriver dairy. They still make their ice cream fresh, right on their own farm in Carleton, using milk from their own moo-cows. They do not use artificial hormones to enhance milk production, instead relying on healthy feed rations, good management and lots of T.L.C. (The cows even have their own nutritionist.) And the resulting ice cream is served up in cones, malts and shakes in their own ice cream parlor. Whether you're just getting a scoop to go or loading up by the gallon, their 34 flavors, ranging from reliable vanilla to cinnamony horchata, aim to please. The ice cream is reportedly notable enough to draw the occasional out-of-state visitor.
Clark's Ice Cream & Yogurt 3312 12 Mile Rd., Berkley; 248-541-6560: With about 60 different flavors, Clark's is a well-stocked roadside stand with a small lobby inside and benches and picnic tables outside. The stand has been in business for about 30 years, as Clark's for almost 20. They sell Blizzard-like Clark's Chillers, with soft-serve, Oreos and Butterfingers, as well as a host of hand-dipped cones. The most popular flavors of ice cream include "moose tracks" (a vanilla-chocolate mixed with peanut butter cups), amaretto cherry and butter pecan. Cones come in regular, sugar and waffle. A two-scoop cone runs between $3 (child's size) and $3.75 (adult size). Open from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., with expanded hours as summer gets hotter.
Cold Stone Creamery 420 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-547-1876; for more Michigan locations, see coldstonecreamery.com: Cold Stone Creamery takes ice cream very, very seriously. The servers sport T-shirts that read, "Friends don't let friends eat grocery store ice cream." A glossy franchise with more than 1,000 stores nationwide, this place serves some damn good ice cream; whatever Cold Stone lacks in mom-and-pop authenticity, it has quality product. Servers add countless "mix-ins" to the premium ice cream on a frosty granite slab, folding in everything from fresh cake pieces to fruit to Gummi Bears. The store's Royal Oak location is larger than many of the chain's stores (which helps keep lines short) and has a cool, comfortable ambience, unlike some of the smaller locations.
Culver's Frozen Custard and ButterBurgers 11001 Belleville Rd., Belleville; 734-699-6100; 30820 Little Mack Ave., Roseville; 586-415-8804: 14800 Racho Rd., Taylor; 734-287-3147; 6500 Newburgh Rd., Westland; 734-595-1883; 700 W. 12 Mile Rd., Madison Heights; 248-546-5311; culvers.com: The popular "Turtle" sundae is made with hot fudge, hot caramel and pecans over vanilla custard. Or try the sundae with hot fudge, peanut butter sauce and Reese's Pieces. There are about 100 flavors. Each store arranges its own flavor of the day as it sees fit; some schedule a monthly calendar, others pick a new flavor each morning. They try to select flavors suitable to holidays, like the Red, White and Blueberry on Memorial Day (vanilla ice cream with strawberries and blueberries). The menu includes the burger that made them famous, the ButterBurger (natch).
> Email Michael Jackman