It’s a sunny, warm April afternoon in Nashville. I’m in town for a conference, and I have just completed a rigorous day-long tour throughout the city. I’m burnt out and a bit jet lagged but need to find a way to keep my energy up for a long evening of networking events starting in a couple of hours. What should I do to kill the time? Nap? Pop into one of the over thirty honky tonks around Lower Broadway, each featuring at least one blaring-loud live music act?
No, if you’re me, you strike out in search of an ice cream sugar rush. Obviously.
Located on 2nd Ave, right around the corner from all the raucous action on the main strip, is Mike’s Ice Cream & Coffee Bar. Nestled between honky tonk joints, cowboy boot and hat shops, and a tattoo parlour, it’s a gritty looking joint with a flashy neon sign above it that fits right in with the Nash-Vegas vibe. In fact, if it weren’t for the giant human-sized ice cream cone statues outside, I might have mistaken it for a bar. (I suspect this is why those statues are there. It’s not hard to imagine folks in various states of inebriation thinking the same thing.)
Frankly, the fact that I feel like I should be grabbing a beer there has me questioning its level of sanitation. But not enough to stop me from going in.
The line is as long (and about as inefficient) as a crowded bar. OK, to be fair, at least everyone was standing politely in relative single-file fashion. After a what feels like an eternity (though is probably only 10 minutes), with no ability to see what options lie ahead and no menus or signage to give even a hint, I finally inch close enough to see the display cases of flavors.
The wide ranging selection includes all the usual traditional options, plus a handful of locally-inspired flavors like Tennessee Fudge, Pralines and Cream, and Blackberry Cornbread.
The Blackberry Cornbread it is a pretty tasty vanilla ice cream with swirls of blackberry jam and chunks of good ‘ole southern cornbread. But I really need a sugar boost to get through the evening ahead, so I settle for bowlful of Loaded Butterscotch, a cookies and cream ice cream permeated with generous ribbons of rich butterscotch.
Well, I got what I asked for. A generous single scoop of this sickeningly sweet combo is enough sugar to practically put me into a coma. But that doesn’t stop me from devouring the entire bowl, blissfully shoveling mouthfuls to the beat of the guitar strumming away in the bar next door.
The ice cream is a nice density, creamy and smooth. But like so many other things in this stretch of Nashville, a bit overdone with the cookie chunks and those big gooey butterscotch swirls.
That said, in a crazy sort of way, it feels like the perfect compliment to my Music City experience. After all, between the continuous battle of the bands and endless streams of bachelorette parties taking full advantage of their temporary freedom (both matrimonial and alcohol-related due to the city’s open container policies), everything here is excessive. So why not overindulge in the sweet stuff?
Total score: 2.8 scoops