Elmo’s Revenge. Green Machine. Shorty Got Cakes. Forty Shades of Earl Grey.
They might be strong contenders for the strangest band name of all time, but they’re also three of 16 ice cream flavors at The Parlor Ice Cream Puffs (2620 Fair Oaks Blvd.).
If Milk House Shakes lacked vibrancy, The Parlor made up for it. Though the floors and walls were light neutrals, there were pops of color everywhere.
In contrast to Milk House Shakes’ vertical, open-kitchen layout that left little room for sitting or standing, The Parlor’s layout was horizontal, allowing room for a line, which quickly formed behind and in front of us.
“I can smell the baked goods,” Sarina said.
As Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” blared in the background, we inspected the strange frozen concoctions we could choose from.
I tried the orchid-colored Hello Kalo (a taro coconut and condensed milk ice cream that tasted more like frozen marshmallows than tropical tubers), and Sarina tried the Cocoa Butter Kisses (a chocolate ice cream with cookie butter and graham crackers that she found “too rich and chocolatey”).
Even though their taste was debatable, the samples packed much more flavor than the Milk House milkshakes.
The Parlor offers ice cream in cups, cones and milkshakes, but it’s most famous for serving it between two halves of a glazed or unglazed doughnut or alongside a cinnamon, strawberry, Fruity Pebble or Oreo churro. If those flavors aren’t eccentric enough, just add unlimited sauces, cereals or other toppings for 75 cents or a single item for 50 cents.
“I want a doughnut, but I’m afraid it’ll be overkill,” Sarina said.
I’ve had a glazed ice cream doughnut at The Parlor only once, and Sarina’s fears weren’t irrational — the doughnut glaze oozing over globs of sweet, syrupy ice cream was too much. I just couldn’t finish it.
This time, I opted for the Green with Envy (green tea and vanilla ice cream) on an unglazed doughnut with coconut and almonds. Sarina chose the Everything but the … (caramel ice cream with pretzels and fudge) topped with Fruity Pebbles and an Oreo churro.
Getting the ice cream took longer than at Milk House Shakes; the doughnut and churro are warmed before adding the ice cream. After a minute, my green tea sandwich was set down on the counter, but while Sarina’s ice cream was ready, her churro was nowhere to be found.
A few minutes of awkward waiting later, we decided to sit down and try the ice cream without the churro.
The music in our corner seat was very loud. I could barely hear Sarina over the blaring of “Highway to Hell,” but we still chatted.
Opting for an unglazed doughnut was definitely the right choice; the cold, syrupy green tea contrasted nicely with the hot doughnut. I didn’t get many toppings in the first few bites, but the ratio between doughnut and ice cream was perfectly even. Unfortunately, it was one of the messiest dishes I’ve ever eaten. It was impossible to bite into the two doughnut halves without squeezing ice cream out the back of the sandwich.
We bought water, and remarkably, the doughnut wasn’t as thirst-inducing as the milkshake.
Sarina said she hesitated about combining sweet-and-salty ice cream with a fruity cereal, but the fruity taste went very well with the ice cream, and the crunchy Pebbles didn’t get soggy. Rather, they provided a refreshing change in texture. The ice cream itself was not nearly as rich as the Cocoa Butter Kisses, she added.
Although the desserts were much denser than the milkshakes, they were easier to finish.
But the churro hadn’t come, so the bewildered employee gave us two new ones.
Despite a distinct Oreo flavor, the churro still had some cinnamon and spice in it, and it paired nicely with both ice creams.
Even though The Parlor doesn’t have a theme, there’s a reason people keep coming back. The ice cream is packed with flavor and — with 16 types, five styles and tons of toppings — offers something for everyone. The short distance from school certainly helps The Parlor’s popularity, but I would travel a hundred miles for one of its wacky creations.
—By Héloïse Schep