At Sundaes & Cones, the labels in the refrigerated display case are essential. Without them, the bucket filled with light green ice cream would probably be interpreted as mint or pistachio.
It's wasabi, in fact, one of the many Asian-inspired flavors offered by the East Village ice cream parlor. Sundaes & Cones also covers some classics: vanilla, chocolate, and cookies and cream all get a place in the lineup. But it's the playful takes on ice cream flavors that have made the store a success.
They're the reason that even the benches outside the shop are packed on a warm summer night, people shoulder-to-shoulder underneath the cheery white and grey logo of two cartoonish ice cream cones. Inside, there's nothing that really resembles a line. Your best hope is to inch your way to the front and make hopeful eye contact with a server behind the counter, who will eventually scoop you a generous serving of the kind of ice cream that makes a little waiting worthwhile.
In the meantime, you've got a lot choices to make. It's possible to go all-American—and a little tempting, facing buckets of tiramisu, strawberry cheesecake, and chocolate peanut butter ice cream. Unlimited free samples make the decision easier; customers can ask for tastes of green tea, red bean, and lychee ice cream. Other choices include purple-pink taro, rusty orange Thai tea, and a nutty sesame flavor the color of concrete. There's even a pale yellow ice cream labeled "corn".
Wafer cones, sugar cones, and waffle cones are stacked behind the counter. Some cones are plain; some dipped in chocolate and rolled in rainbow sprinkles (which of course can never be overdone, so you can ask for the scoop of ice cream on your cone to be dipped into them too). Sundaes & Cones also serves frozen yogurt, ice cream cakes, and logically, sundaes.
The homemade ice cream is creamy and the flavors are true to their name (Thai tea ice cream has the slightly bitter aftertaste of tea leaves). It isn't too stiff, just soft enough to get a more satisfying mouthful. Large portions mean that if you choose two or three scoops in different flavors, you'll receive a topheavy monster of an ice cream cone that needs an accompanying cup and constant vigilance to stay upright. Or you could consider the battle lost and just go with the cup.
Seating is available near the front window, next to a refrigerator with bottled teas and other drinks. On a quiet afternoon, you can take your ice cream and settle at one of the tables conveniently stocked with magazines. Though the pages are probably sticky.
Sundaes & Cones
95 E. 10th Street