[MA] It's getting warmer (?, well, supposedly)--time for some ice cream

Isn’t that still what’s available at Q’s nuts?

Don’t know. Need to check. Thanks.

I’ve found Gracie’s to be very miss or miss. What “hit” have you found there? Your description here doesn’t leave much room for greatness…

As a frame of reference for my lack of love for Gracie’s, I’d put Tosci’s on top, with Christina’s very close by: they bring different things to the …cone, Tosci’s creamy rich saturated flavors and Christina’s subtly spiced scoops ranging across the flavor palette. I too was a fan of some of Herrell’s creations back in the day (Chocolate Pudding ice cream in the vault!).

Apparently ice cream proprietors are required by local code to put an ‘s in their shops’ names.

In the “good but not great” category I’d place Lizzy’s Harvard Square outpost (I do like their couple of chocolate lace flavors though), JP Licks (solid product, if uninspired), and Ranc’s (varies widely). I would have put the “frozen custard” (“it’s not ice cream!”) from Chilly Cow here too for its smooth, creamy texture, but they were forced to close earlier this year and restyle to put the obligatory apostrophe-s in their name, and when they reopened as Abilyn’s Frozen Bakery a couple weeks ago they apparently dropped the frozen custard offerings.

Below these I’d put Gracie’s, and I was similarly never impressed with Emack & Bolio’s (though the one in Harvard Square did have some excellent muffins - wish I knew where to find their match around here nowadays!).

If you’re looking for something new to try, instead of Gracie’s I’d suggest Honeycomb Creamery on Mass Ave between Harvard & Porter. Very creative flavors (traditionalists would just say weird): Cinnamon Dulce de Leche, Thai Iced Tea (my favorite of the couple I’ve had), Matcha Pistachio, Honey Lavender, Grapenut Rosemary, London Fog, Bunny Tracks (“carrot ice cream with pieces of housemade carrot cake, toasted coconut, and cacao nibs”). IMHO their funky-flavor-fu is a bit stronger than their ice-cream-churning-fu, but it’s still enjoyable and a good destination when you’re looking to try a flavor you never imagined existed.


Plus one on the Honeycomb Creamery rec and agreed on the flavor / churning balance. I’d like a richer and creamier base but the flavors more than make up for it. Most recently I had cofef-toffee (good strong coffee flavor) and banana bread with fudge, which tasted just like that. A friend loved the honey and oats.

Sounds like our ice cream tastes match pretty well as I also miss Herrell’s and make a point of going when I’m in NoHo (just checked, they seem to still be there). Ranc’s has some good flavors but my favorites aren’t in the rotation often. I can usually find something I like at Lizzy’s but don’t go out of my way for it. I think of JP Licks “solid but uninspired” is a good way to put it) as being to the city what Richardson’s is to the northern burbs. I tried Gracie’s a few times and they missed on both texture (gritty / icy) and flavor (weak) so I’m done.

Sorry to hear that Abilyn’s didn’t keep the frozen custard, that was the only reason I ever went there when they were Chilly Cow. I guess Abbott’s is the only frozen custard option locally now.

Excellent assessment. I largely agree, except that I’d give Christina’s the edge over Tosci’s. I find the latter a little too rich – have never been able to finish a serving of their B^3, for instance. People with more vigorous appetites here might disagree.

Nice observation on the apostrophes.

Some northern burb recs:

For year-round shops, I really like Mad Maggie’s in N. Andover for both their base and their flavors. Lots of variety, with my favorites being black raspberry chip and the coffee flavors. I’ll almost always make a side-trip if I’m in the area.

Meletharb in Wakefield is also great, with flavors that taste like their names. Recently tasted a baklava, dulce de leche, and crème brûlée that were spot on, and was their espresso chip. I also like that they use bases like sweet cream or toffee for some flavors instead of just adding stuff to vanilla. I’d go more often if they were closer to home; they make a good dessert stop after Sei Bar.

Closest to home is Schoolhouse in Burlington, a local favorite for soups and sandwiches as well as for ice cream. (I often go after lunch at Ritu Ki Rasoi if I have any room.) The base is a bit chewy (maybe too much guar or other gum) but otherwise good, and the flavor variety is decent in the cold months and great in the warmer ones. Burlington Heath Bar (toffee base) is reliable and their banana, coconut, and oreo flavors are great. Coffees are a bit weak though.

For seasonal stands, my first note is that a lot of those advertizing “home-made” are stealth Richardson’s resellers. (Not that Richardson’s is bad but I’d rather know what I’m getting without having to make an educated guess based on the flavor list.) Additionally, some of the stands that do mix their own flavors use Richardson’s base, which is harder to track.

I’m also a fan of black raspberry chip and coffee heath ice creams, and a lot of places offer those as (hard serve) frozen yogurt only, so much so that I assume they’re all getting them from the same source even if they “make their own” ice cream.

Short list of northeastern MA seasonal stands I like (there are probably more I’ve forgotten):

  • Downriver in Essex (great after Crane Beach or area fried clams), also in Rowley. Good base and plenty of interesting (and fancifully-named) standard flavors plus specials.
  • White Farms in Ipswich, mostly for their cocojamocha
  • Meadowlands in Tewksbury, not far from the N. Billerica border. Good black raspberry.
  • Great Brook Farms State Park’s ice cream stand is nice after a hike. Good flavors, the base could be better.
  • Kimball Farms also has some flavors I like but is very crowded in their season.

They had an apple something or other flavor awhile back that was pretty satisfying. Not as good as Christina’s apple crisp ice cream that they have seasonally, but it scratched the itch at that time. We really don’t go to Gracie’s anymore so I don’t disagree. They need to spend less time on their instagram and more on churning out better product.

I tried Honeycomb a few times, but don’t prefer the texture and find the product not creamy and rich. Also, as one would expect from a place that bills itself as artisanal, it’s not a good value.

That’s for sure. We usually venture to Kimball Farm in Carlisle because they do ice cream only, rather than go to the mega Westford location which has mini golf, bumper boats, driving range and the like. Have not been to the Lancaster or Jeffrey NH Kimball’s.

Chocolate chocolate truffle is one of our favorite flavors for its rich custardy, chocolatey base.

We often pick restaurants (and ice cream shops) for their unusual flavors, techniques and their “outside of the box” cooking and so we were really looking forward to visit Honeycomb Creamery but it was now twice one of the bigger disappointments - the unusual flavors seem only be there to mask a low quality ice cream with bad consistency (large ice crystals) and a low quality base which lacks creaminess and richness


Talking of unusual flavors and techniques, does nobody in Boston do liquid nitrogen ice cream? Hell Heck, this was (maybe, is) available at Soam in Bombay/Mumbai. Want ice cream that’s sita-phall (custard-apple aka cherimoya)? Chickoo? Mango? Saag-Paneer?

You can make anything into ice cream this way (with a base): vanilla, chocolate, tongue, your tongue (after you’ve licked the previous batch off the bowl)…

A few years back there was one LN2 ice cream shop which ran out of a shipping container on the Harvard Science Center Plaza, but they didn’t last long. (I was going to call it a pop-up, but if your store weighs a few tons, I can’t really picture it just springing up like daisies.)

A quick search shows two within an hour drive of Boston (how badly do you want it?): New City Microcreamery in Hudson, MA appears to use LN2 to make their big-batch tubs of ice cream, and Sub Zero Ice Cream in Nashua makes small-batch LN2 to order, which it looks like they churn - OMG, those poor employees - BY HAND! Ice cream scooping isn’t light duty work anywhere, but I sure hope this shop is advertising those jobs as a combination employment & forearm development program.

Since Sub Zero makes servings to order, I think they’d be your best bet to convince them to make your LN2 Saag Paneer ice cream (BYOSP).

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Ice cream is so personal … who knew. I moved here from Columbus Ohio and desperately miss Jeni’s - which you can now buy in some local shops but not her most interesting flavors.

Anyway - locally - I don’t get the appeal of Lizzy’s at all. I’m walking distance to their shop in waltham and have been twice in three years with no desire to return. I’d rather drive to Pizzi’s (not that I’m suggesting that as a road trip for anyone) or to Dairy Joy for soft serve.

Murano gelato is some of the best I’ve had outside of Italy and love it.

Rancatore is on my list of places to try, just haven’t been yet.

There was a place west of Lexington that a friend took me to (I’ve texted her to get the name) that was such a nice drive in the convertable on the side roads and great ice cream. It’s on the list of places to return this summer. I’ll have to post back with the name.

Edit : I thought it was Kendall Farms but couldn’t find it - but it is Kendall farms in Carlisle. Good ice cream, cute place, nice drive.

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Kimball Farm. That’s why you could not find it. :wink: It’s our summer go-to.

LOL - yes the typo never helps in a google search - but as you mentioned in your post of it earlier, when others have talked about Kimball they always talk about min-golf/etc and this location is such a simple little walk-up ice cream shack (maybe I’m exaggerating a little for effect) that I always assumed it must be another brand.

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Maybe I knew because I may or may not have eaten my weight in Kimball Farm ice cream over the years. Who can say for sure?

Yep, I need to get there this weekend.

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Had Christina’s kulfi from Q’s nuts last night and it was excellent as always. Nothing like drizzly 40 degree weather for a walk to the ice cream shop. Gotta love new englanders.


I tend to like big flavors and a really rich base. Tosci’s works for me, especially that really dark chocolate. Ranc’s might use the same base, but both my husband and I find their subtle flavors to be almost bland even though it’s nice and creamy. Christina’s is nice and rich, too, but the last cone I got there, cherry vanilla, had 1/2 a cherry in the whole thing. That was a few years back so I should give them a try again.

Down River in Essex is quite good.

I agree with T.B. that Meletharb is quite good, too. The baklava ice cream is a treat. I thought the baklava would be mushy sitting in the cream, but it retains a nice texture. I wish they made their own hot fudge, though.

I have tried both Gracie’s and Honeycomb and found them both to be okay, but not super rich. The flavors at Honeycomb were quite good. I’ve only had Gracie’s black raspberry, and it tasted pretty strongly of black raspberry syrup. That was shortly after they opened. I wasn’t impressed enough to bother going back.

Thimes, I totally agree about Lizzy’s. It doesn’t do anything for me.

An afternoon cone at either of the Kimball’s is always a treat. I lived about 10 minutes from the Westford Kimballs for several years, and it wasn’t until the last year or so that I really starting appreciating them. I was a super-premium Steve’s/Herrell’s snob. Now I really enjoy a Kimball’s cone.

A couple of weeks back we went to a folk show in Northampton. Walking by Herrell’s, it was hard to resist stopping in for a chocolate pudding cone before dinner. Sadly, they were closed after the show so we didn’t get to indulge. Next time…


I finally got to this place today, and it was really good! They did have the strawberry, but since it was my first visit I just went for plain vanilla. The ice cream is on the sweetish side, but it’s got great flavor and texture–would go back to try other flavors!

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another recent update: went to Meletharb Homemade Ice Cream in Wakefield last weekend. Got the banana in a cup, which really tasted like real banana–this may be a plus or minus depending on how you see it. To me it tasted of overripe banana, which in my book is a ok. Ice cream texture was all right.

The shop is in a super generic strip mall place next to a laundry. There’s not a lot else around, but it’s not that far to some of the other (many) highlights of Wakefield. Worth a stop if you’re out that way


Those of you who find yourselves at Toscanini’s might find this to be fun. Their ice cream flavors ranked by The Boston Globe: