Welcome back to Tiger Town Treats! A Prospect series where I compare delicious snacks-’n-sips from local businesses so you know where to go to satisfy that one craving or reward yourself after that rough p-set!
Next up: ICE CREAM
I sampled ice cream from three establishments in town: Halo Pub, Bent Spoon, and Thomas Sweet. At each location, I got a small vanilla scoop in a cup, just to be sure I was making a fair comparison. But, of course, every shop has its own specialties, so I also asked the staff about their favorite flavors. Along with my reviews you can find other recommendations for inside scoops and specialties!
I’ll be rating the texture and flavor of these treats on a 10-point scale, with 10 being the best I’ve ever had, five being average, and one being not too great. But, keep in mind, even a slightly “below average” treat is still pretty delicious! And after midterms, I am humbled enough to admit that even coming close to the mean is to be appreciated, especially when Princeton’s ice cream is so delicious on average! I’ll also be giving you my impressions of the “vibe” of each shop. You can also check out this TikTok, featuring videos of each location to get a feel for yourself!
First Stop: Halo Pub (HP)
Price: $4.20 for 6 oz or $6 per pint (shout-out to the 2024 class council for the free pint of ice cream during midterms!)
Texture Rating: 6/10
HP’s ice cream was light and not too heavy on the cream side. You can tell it is made partly with skim milk instead of 100 percent heavy cream. But I found that this lighter texture was very enjoyable: it allowed me to eat more without feeling the effects of too much richness.
Flavor Rating: 7/10
HP’s bourbon vanilla was a well-executed classic. Without being too bold, it was clear there was a distinctly vanilla flavor, rather than it being just a “plain” ice cream. It would pair great with some warm cookies or a bowl of fresh fruit.
HP has that old-fashioned-classy-soda-shop aesthetic that makes sitting there with friends almost as enjoyable as actually eating their ice cream. And you actually can sit inside there! This is a welcome added bonus when the weather keeps deciding to revert back to winter.
All in all, HP is a great place to stop and grab a scoop or a pint (note: pints of HP ice cream are the cheapest pints in Princeton). Their vanilla was perfect on its own, but if you wanna shake it up, try a bite of the staff favorites: cookie dough or cookies & cream (priced the same as their vanilla)!
Next Stop: Bent Spoon (BS)
Price: $6 for 8oz or $10 per pint (Due to the pandemic, BS is unfortunately only offering one size. On the positive side, it’s big enough for two scoops! So in addition to my obligatory vanilla scoop, I also tried a bit of their cannoli flavor.)
Texture Rating: 6/10
BS’s ice cream had a very similar texture to HP’s. While soft and delicious, it wasn’t heavy or ridiculously creamy. Even with the extra ice cream, each bite was light and kept me wanting more.
Flavor Rating: 6/10
BS’s vanilla was more of a “sweet cream” than a proper vanilla. All the same, it was very good. It was not overly sweet and had notes of something slightly citrusy to brighten it up (though that may have been from cross-contamination with my cannoli scoop).
BS is currently not letting customers inside, but even in the cold, the Palmer Square sidewalk is lined with excited patrons waiting for their number to be called. I enjoyed being able to grab my ice cream and go for a walk around town without feeling tied to the location. Of course, if you are looking for a place to sit and chat, there are plenty of benches around Palmer Square, or you can head back up to Nassau where there are tables just across the street from the Rocky-Mathey dining hall.
I thoroughly enjoyed BS! And I will definitely be heading back to get another scoop of my new personal favorite and the staff recommendation: the cannoli ice cream (same price as their vanilla). The flavors were aromatic, with bold spices balanced with a bright citrus pop. It was, in a word, scrumptious.
Grand Finale: Thomas Sweet (TS)
Price: $4.15 for 6oz or $7.75 per pint
Texture Rating: 3.5/10
TS’s ice cream has a slightly sticky or gummy texture. I also encountered some small chunks of ice, which added a fun crunch, but I cannot say that I loved them. Generally, I wasn’t a fan of their scooped vanilla’s texture, but the staff did recommend the soft-serve and blend-ins for those who want a creamier, softer treat (see verdict for price information).
Flavor Rating: 5/10
TS’s vanilla had more of a “sweet cream” than a vanilla flavor, and it wasn’t overly sweet. It was a fairly standard ice cream that would serve as a great neutral base for a wide variety of toppings and sauces.
TS felt like every local ice cream shop in an American suburb. It felt homey and like there was a sense of community. The walls are painted with a fun mural depicting Princeton locals and students alike enjoying cones and cups (they even added masks, which was just adorable). Also, the tip jar at the front has a handwritten, Crayola marker sign that reads “College Fund” with a list of the staff’s schools or prospective schools.
While the vanilla was not an all-time favorite, I’ve heard from multiple sources that TS’s peanut butter chocolate outdoes that of HP with a bolder, more cohesive flavor. And the staff raved about the chocolate chip cookie ice cream (same price as their vanilla) as well as their other build-your-own blend-in flavors (all blend-in cups are the same size starting at $5.85, and each additional blend-in topping is between 50–70¢ extra). At the end of the day, ice cream is ice cream, and I finished the whole scoop, enjoying each bite!
Now that the weather is starting to warm up, be sure to give this sweet holy trinity of treats a try, and leave a comment on this article with what you want to see reviewed next!