Location: Lower East Side (Rivington St. b/t Bowery and Chrystie)
What We Ordered: Burnt Honey and Salted Pretzel Caramel
It was a warm Friday night as we walked through bustling Lower East Side streets, searching for the ice cream shop we've heard so much about. Irrationally losing complete sense of direction once the numbered streets turned to words, we reached for our phones to see if we were even in the vicinity. We took a turn and cautiously approached one of the many nightmares New Yorkers fear: a line spilling onto the sidewalk. We closed our eyes, took a deep breath, and reluctantly joined the dozens waiting to get their hands on a frozen treat with just one thought in our minds -- this better be worth it.
As we waited in line among selfie-taking girls, couples on date night, and fellow dessert aficionados, we couldn't help but notice the happy customers walking past us with their delicious looking scoops of ice cream. If there was any benefit to having to wait on a line, it's that we had a chance to deliberate what we wanted to order. Feeling pressure from the hungry patrons behind us as we reached the front, we quickly tried two flavors and made our selections. We settled on a cup of Burnt Honey and Salted Pretzel Caramel with salted caramel sauce and whipped cream.
We watched as the server quickly put together our frozen concoction and noticed something we haven't seen before. While typically ice cream flavors are made with the appropriate toppings and sauces already mixed together in the bucket when the servers scoop it out, Morgenstern's keeps the additions separate and only uses it when the flavor is ordered, preserving its freshness. We saw our server pull out the container of Salted Caramel flavor and sprinkle in bits of pretzels before carefully scooping out a sphere of the just melded Salted Pretzel Caramel ice cream.
We finally got our hands on our dessert and salivated over its rich-looking texture and how the sauce draped over the mound of frozen goodness. We each carefully scooped out a spoonful of what we created and were not disappointed. Strangely refreshing, like your first gulps of a Gatorade after a full day at the beach, it had a texture so rich it would make Jay-Z and Beyoncé jealous.
At first glance, Morgenstern’s menu appears a bit overwhelming. Flavors are organized by four base flavors: Vanilla, Coffee, Caramel, and Chocolate. Under each category are the actual flavors e.g. under Caramel is Salted Pretzel, Unsalted Caramel, and Sesame. In addition to these regular flavors, Morgenstern’s offers several specialty flavors like Green Tea Pistachio and American Egg. To further customize your ice cream, you can choose from over 20 different toppings, including luxardo cherries, sesame honeycomb, and lemon jam. With a seemingly endless amount of ice cream and topping combinations to choose from, you are almost assured to never get bored.
Morgenstern's is tucked away in the Bowery, surrounded by new trendy stores and old graffitied buildings. Using 1950s ice cream parlor decor with some elegant modern updates, the shop exudes the cool classic vibe of the neighborhood -- a fusion of old and new that manages to surprise and delight all that walk through its doors.
It is a photogenic spot, as proven by their extensive Instagram following. Merchandise line the walls from hats to tote bags and even beach towels. The servers wore soda jerk uniforms and operated like machines, having to work efficiently on this busy evening with no room for error. Despite the strenuous circumstances, the staff was friendly and Mr. Morgenstern himself worked the register. The shop's limited space reminded us we were in the Lower East Side. Seating is sparse and even if you are lucky enough to find an open seat on the counter or by the window, you have to be comfortable having your personal space invaded by the many waiting for their ice cream.
Morgenstern's represents everything we could dream of in an ice cream shop, from the freshness of the ice cream to the variety of flavors to the classic ice cream parlor interior. The flavors are powerful and pierce your senses in a way that make you feel like nothing else in the world matters other than this moment between you and your ice cream. It was love at first bite. You may have to wait a while to get it, but it is well worth the wait -- trust us. As the saying goes, anything worth having is definitely worth waiting for.