I did it all wrong. You see, it was raining the other night, as it has been this week. I went to see an incredible play at the Bank Street Theater, and afterwards I wanted ice cream. I rifled through my mental rolodex of places to get ice cream in the West Village, and settled on one I passed the other day and have never been to: Café Cluny.
Café Cluny is an adorable little gastropub tucked into the confusing grid of Greenwich Village. It began life in 2008 as an upscale comfort-food restaurant, with thick burgers with great fries, a roast chicken with all the trimmings, steaks, even a pork loin wrapped in pancetta. But then a veteran chef of the farm-to-table scene joined the scene, and all the critics were a-flutter. I have never personally eaten at the restaurant. My way to the ice cream/ gelato of Café Cluny came by way of Serious Eats.
But I did this all wrong. You see, they normally have this little delightful ice cream cart parked outside the restaurant every day in the summer. Except when it's raining.
Not to be deterred, I ordered my ice cream at the bar. Three flavors were available for me to choose from: Chartreuse, Chocolate, and Coconut. I bet you can guess which ones I picked.
A word about my order. First of all, I think they were a little unprepared. I mean, who else orders ice cream on a rainy night, right? First they couldn't find the right cup to put it in, so they put it in a to-go soup cup. Then they gave me a silver spoon from the restaurant, cause they couldn't find the plastic ones. And then they charged me a whopping $8.50 for two scoops (whoa!), which I assume is the price when you order dessert from a waitress after your meal.
Despite all that, the ice cream WAS in fact, DELICOUS. The Chartreuse was (as per its namesake) a delightfully alcoholic vanilla, like someone had spiked your milkshake with the best Bermudan dark rum, and the Coconut was full of flavor but not too cloying or sweet. It was creamy, rich, and smooth in the best way possible, so much that it made me want to savor every bite, instead of scarf down my portion like I usually do by the time I cross the street. With my silver spoon and I've-got-a-secret smile, I felt like I was one of those ladies in commercials who walk down the sidewalks of New York enjoying her yogurt a little too much.
Café Cluny's ice cream is made in-house, but not that house. In fact, it's made at sister restaurant The Odeon in Tribeca, who also boasts their own ice cream cart. So my researching ended there. Some blogs on the Odeon list their ice cream as "organic" and "locally-sourced" but aside from that I've got very little to go on.
Suffice it to say that both carts are very well-known and well-loved in NYC with fantastic ice cream and ever-changing, surprising flavors. Also suffice it to say that you should probably never try to order ice cream from a cart at night in the rain. Noted.