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I'm not sure whether or not I'll be spending my time this summer reviewing ice cream places. A lot of them are popping up, restaurants are adventuring into the ice cream business as well, while pastry shops are doing their best to impress with innovative cold bites.
In New York Magnolia Bakery has been offering a variety of ice cream sandwiches, including double fudge brownie, blondie, red velvet, magic cookie bar, and lemon bar. Magnolia Bakery, New York's famous bakery has already opened two branches in Lebanon and their ice cream sandwiches have just been introduced to their menu - just in time for the summer. How can I resist trying this one...
Before going into details, and for you to understand my approach, I've always expressed my dismay towards the 'American' side of Magnolia, meaning: I personally think we Lebanese don't appreciate the exaggerated sweetness in them. Magnolia does offer tasty bites, but they are way too big, too heavy and too sweet... I was hoping that their ice cream would be different. I reached Magnolia early in the afternoon and went straight to the counter for the ice cream. “Do you have ice cream?” I ask. The waiter, walked with me outside to the fridge on the sidewalk. A huge ice box carrying the brand's label was waiting to be unlocked by a key. The waiter opened it wide to reveal its hidden treasures.
My first impression:
- There is no menu, so you'll have to walk out to the fridge and choose
- The fridge is way too cold: -17 degrees, that's for take away, not for dine-in. Expect to wait for the order to melt... Maybe 15 minutes or more. Another freezer for dine-in left at -5 degrees is a must.
- The sandwiches are too bulky. I'd make them smaller at a lower price
Inside are seven different choices of ice cream:
- Brownie Blondy Chocolate: A square cake constituted of two layers of white brownie filled with a nice chocolate ice cream on an interesting sponge cake, while some chocolate chips crunched pleasantly to add this funky touch. A salty aftertaste is enjoyable, making this piece of dessert more than an average ice cream.
- Brownie Blondy Vanilla
- Brownie Chocolate Vanilla: This brownie is too sticky and way too sweet adding to that the sweet and creamy vanilla ice cream.
- Brownie Chocolate Chocolate
- Red Velvet Vanilla: A nice red velvet cookie with its rich flavor that's felt in every bite, followed by the vanilla filling. The vanilla ice cream is too milky and feels too heavy. That's more of a meal than a dessert
- Lemon Bar Vanilla
- Magic Bar: That's too much! Other than the heavy filling, brownie and ice cream a chewy chocolate envelop has been added. That's way too much. The chocolate envelope is too thick and too chewy sticking to your teeth followed by the brownie, a thick layer of ice cream and more chocolate, this time crunchy. I'd remove the chocolate envelope to enjoy the cookies and crunch of chocolate more. Really that's too much; too many textures, too many flavors, too many calories.
Honestly, I was not impressed. If I may resume the ice cream sandwiches experience:
- Too big: You can not taste more than one. It's like a calorie bomb
- Too thick: Hard to bite into it if you have a small mouth
- Too sticky: The brownie is too sticky and not spongy
- Too sweet: Way too sweet, like eating artificially colored sugar
- Too American: I think this word summarizes all of he above
The ingredients are here and the knowhow as well but what's missing is the fine-tuning. I'd change:
- The chocolate ice cream is good but not enjoyable because it's too thick
- The brownie is too sweet
- The chocolate envelope should be removed for good
- The chocolate bits inside the sandwiches should be smaller
- And most importantly, give us an in-house edible version not a thick icy one Eskimos can't even chew
- I'll install a freezer for dine-in and another for takeaway orders
Conclusion: I was not impressed. I'll be coming back in a month.