‘Tis the Season

It’s the time of year when seasonal ice cream businesses spring to life, including my  two favorites from among several soft-serve stands within a short drive from where I live. Barones, which I wrote about last year, and Richman’s both returned to serving their delicious concoctions within the past few weeks. 

We’ve known about and frequented Richman’s much longer, but since making our first visit to Barone’s a couple years ago, it’s become our lead destination when we want a sweet treat near home. It’s a small stand at one end of a little strip of shops in Drexel Hill, PA. It also doesn’t have the classic look that some other custard and soft-serve stands, including Richman’s, possess. But what they may lack in mid-century aesthetic, they more than make up for with the artistry of their sundae and milkshake preparation – not to mention an eye-catching display of photos of their various offerings that are plastered on almost every available inch of space of the stand’s exterior. 

Drexel Hill, PA
Turkey Hill is one of the major suppliers of soft-serve ice cream in the Philly region. It’s fairly dense and has a nice flavor.

It took my wife and I at least five minutes to browse through most of the photos and the menu before making up our minds during our first visit of the season last week. She kept it simple, ordering a vanilla-chocolate swirl in a sugar cone with chocolate jimmies (that’s what we call sprinkles in the Philly region). I am a creature of habit and went with one of my stand-bys, a hot fudge sundae with vanilla soft serve and peanuts. 

They also have hard ice cream and water ice, but we’ve never ordered either. 

As always, we were both more than satisfied with our selections. My wife commented that paying extra for a sugar cone was a wise investment. 

The only thing that could have made my sundae better would have been if it had come in a clear cup, so I could get a good shot of the hot fudge cascading down the sides of the mountain of fairly dense vanilla soft serve. There was also an abundance of peanuts on there. Everything was beautifully proportioned. I had just the right amount of ice cream, fudge and nuts in almost every bite all the way through to the bottom of the cup. That doesn’t happen often.

I’m sure we’ll be back at Barone’s a few more times before they close for the season in the fall. The photos of their floats were enticing enough for me to try one during one of those visits. 

In the interest of fair play, I made it over to Richman’s for a quick lunch earlier this week. They serve Nathan’s hot dogs, and I was in the mood for one.  

Prospect Park, PA

You can see they have the look of a classic mid-20th century soft serve (or custard) stand – and a seemingly endless array of treats from which to choose.  Richman’s has been in the ice cream business for over a century and has developed a small local chain of stands in recent years, with this particular outlet being in Prospect Park, PA. Some of their other spots sell burgers, but I suspect this older one doesn’t have the space for that.

I thought about eating my hot dog, then going back up to the window for a cone, but instead opted for a small peanut-butter milkshake to wash it down.

Inflation has been very tough on restaurants and other food outlets, and I don’t doubt that Richman’s price increases were a business necessity. Yet I have to confess to being slightly taken back by some of them at first glance. 

When my food was ready, I took it over to one of the picnic tables that sit next to the stand and which were thankfully shaded with large umbrellas. 

The nice young lady who was running the place Monday afternoon went a tad overboard with the onions. They make it difficult to get a good look at most of the hot dog. But you can see it was split and grilled and was one of Nathan’s skinless frankfurters. While I typically prefer them with natural casings, a good split-and-grilled frank has its own charm. 

I pushed at least half of the onions off of it after taking the below photos and before my first bite. It really hit the spot. I expect I’ll return for another before the end of the season. I may request light onions next time.

The server redeemed herself with a sensational peanut-butter milkshake. It was extremely thick, to the point where it was a bit of a struggle to get it up through the straw at times. I have the nasty habit of drinking milkshakes too fast – almost like they are soft drinks. That wasn’t possible with this one. I was still working on it long after I had finished the hot dog and left Richman’s. 

Its flavor was sensational. All of the ingredients were in perfect proportion to each other. 

My super-thick peanut-butter milkshake

Just as the return of baseball is a sure sign of the coming of warmer weather and the good times that often accompany it, so is the start of the season for ice cream stands like Barone’s and Richman’s. It would be nice if the Phillies could be as consistently good as these places. 

Published by BZ Maestro

I live outside of Philadelphia and have been food-obsessed for as long as I can remember. After toying with the idea of starting a blog for a fairly long time, the extinction of a food-themed message board that I frequented for years prompted me to finally take action. Thank you for taking the time to check out what I've been up to - and eating. If you've enjoyed what you have read and seen, please consider clicking the "like" button and signing up as a follower.

5 thoughts on “‘Tis the Season

  1. Mrs. Z made a good call with the sugar cone. IMO the standard cones aren’t much better than styrofoam.

    Nice to see that Richman’s offers a mustard choice, although there’s certainly nothing wrong with regular yellow mustard.

    Liked by 1 person

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