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Restaurant Review: Full Tilt Ice Cream

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Full Tilt scooper Josh Welbel checks the progress on a waffle cone.

Just as I was about to enter a small ice cream shop on the corner of Northeast 50th Street and Brooklyn Avenue Northeast, I paused, puzzled. Posted on the door to the empty store was a scribbled note that said, “Be back in 300 seconds.”

Less than 120 seconds later, the server for the night came out of a back room, and I stepped into Full Tilt Ice Cream.

Full Tilt, a chain that originated in South Seattle, boasts ice cream that is made with only natural ingredients. While its menu has a few familiar options, such as vanilla and rocky road, many are more imaginative flavors.

Some unique Full Tilt flavors include salty caramel and toasted coconut. Other flavors are internationally inspired, such as Thai tea and Mexican chocolate. Full Tilt also offers vegan ice cream in flavors such as almond joy and lemon sorbet. A kid’s size scoop is $2, and a single scoop is $3, with $1.50 for every extra scoop.

As per the server’s suggestion, I chose a kid’s size scoop of salty caramel, paying 50 cents extra to have it in a waffle cone.

From my first lick, I definitely tasted the caramel and salt. I found it to be a commendable — albeit unconventional — duet, much like caramel popcorn. I also found the consistency of the ice cream to be quite noteworthy. It was particularly creamy and smooth, unlike most store-bought ice cream that tends to be almost chewy.

The waffle cone complemented the ice cream well. It was sweet without being overpowering and crunchy without being rigid. It even maintained its crunchiness after several minutes of note-taking before I attended to the rest of the cone.

As I munched away on my dessert for the night, I began to notice the room. There were a few attributes of the setting that could entice customers to come in for a visit, such as the music (‘80s rock was playing that night), neon lights and bright green walls. Customers can even entertain themselves with the vintage Pac-Man machine and chalk provided for drawing on the table. However, it didn’t strike me as a place where people could really stay.

At about 300 square feet, the space is cramped. The only place to sit is a small counter connected to one of the walls that fits only about three or four stools. I wasn’t comfortable enough to want to stay and cap the night off with one of the espresso drinks that Full Tilt also offers.

Before I left, I was able to get a taste of their ube ice cream, and I immediately regretted choosing salty caramel. Ube, the Filipino word for purple yam, is a common ice cream flavor in the Philippines. When I was growing up there, I remember not being too fond of it, as it was usually too dense, almost like eating the yam itself. The Full Tilt ube ice cream, however, is lighter and creamier than what I was used to. I was impressed.

Overall, I thought the uniquely satisfying salty-caramel ice cream was a good deal for $2.50. I’m even considering another visit to throw down some Washingtons for more of that ube.

Reach reporter Joanna Nolasco at weekender@dailyuw.com.

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