Saturday, November 03, 2007

What's New at Sketch? --CLOSED

UPDATE, 07/13/09: The owners are having their first baby (congrats!) but that means they want to focus more attention to the family. They're closing the retail store as of July 26, 2009.

Sketch, the high-end artisan ice cream store in the equally high-end Fourth Street shopping district in Berkeley, had been closed for the last few weeks supposedly to renovate the interiors. Since today was an unusually warm day in the Bay Area (it's like a late Indian Summer just as we lose an hour with daylight savings time ending), I thought it would be a good opportunity to check out the new Sketch.

I have to say, it doesn't look much different. I actually can't show you too much of the inside because Sketch is the first place I've visited in my one year of blogging who caught me photographing and clamped down on me. So these are just photos taken from the outside.

The inside looks a little more sleek, like some bright lounge serving cocktails, but it doesn't look any bigger. The menu offers more variety of things like fudgesicles and ice cream sandwiches, but very few flavors. There were only six flavors today when I visited, and they weren't necessarily anything exciting. (Things like vanilla bean, Straus yogurt, Earl Grey tea, cinnamon stick, etc.)

The counter no longer displays the ice creams, instead it just includes the prepared treats like frozen bananas. When you order, they scoop the ice cream from the back counter. I ended up getting a small cup of the vanilla bean ice cream with persimmon compote toppings. This came out to $4.25. For that price, I expected a nice scoop of ice cream, but it wasn't very big. The cup is so small, you might mistaken it for a sample cup.

The ice cream itself was fine, but nothing spectacular. With the emphasis on vanilla "bean," I expected to see the sure-sign specks of the actual vanilla bean but the ice cream was pure white. So either they sifted the ice cream through a sieve before freezing or they didn't use a real vanilla bean. The texture was also like soft ice cream or frozen yogurt. It didn't have that nice thick creaminess of ice cream that I've experienced at places like Ici or Bi-Rite Creamery. (On my way home on the bus, I passed the Ici store on College Ave. and I was tempted to get off to get a real cup of ice cream.)

Sketch Ice Cream, 1809 4th St., Berkeley. PH: 510.665.5650.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

What's up with not taking photos? Did they give you a reason? That must sure have soured your opinion of the place. -- David

Chef Ben said...

No, they didn't give a reason (and most people who ask you not to take photos don't really feel the need to explain, they just want you to stop immediately). Usually when that happens I just put my camera away and don't ask because I don't want to draw even more attention to myself. (Sometimes, if I go to a place that initially won't let me take pictures, and I fall in love with it, then I may contact the place and let them know I want to feature them on my blog. But like I said, most times places are pretty cool with photos.) Anywho, I don't know if it soured me on their products. It may have soured my experience of being there, but I try not to let that cloud the actual flavors, texture and taste of the product. And like I said in the post, it was good but not amazing. My favorite is still Ici with Bi-Rite a close second.

Rachelle said...

Sketch is actually gelato b/c its made with milk rather than cream and/or eggs, even though they call it ice cream. The owners even called it gelato when I asked. On that note, its not in the same league as Bi-Rite and Ici.

Chef Ben said...

Well, that's silly. If it's gelato, then they should call themselves Sketch Gelato. What? They don't think people in the Bay Area would know what gelato is?

I scoured their Web site and every mention refers to ice cream, or more specifically, slow-churn ice cream, which makes more sense. They don't say anything about being like gelato. I'm not saying you're wrong, Rachelle. I'm just saying they're presenting themselves as ice cream makers at the store and on the Web.

Anonymous said...

i went twice before the remodel and they Asian lady owner didn't let me take photos either. Yes, I agree the ice-cream isn't very good. I do like Ici & Bi-Rite much better.

Anonymous said...

I think their ice cream is great. But you're right that it's not nearly as creamy as Ici's. But their Earl Grey and Burnt Caramel flavors are excellent.