The Shop: Bluebird Ice Cream
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
As you cross the bridge from downtown Seattle into Fremont, a sign welcomes you: “Entering the Republic of Fremont, the center of the Universe. Set your watch back five minutes.” Fremont is proud of its quirks: the 16-foot-tall Statue of Lenin is only outdone by the 18-foot-tall Fremont Troll, which lurks beneath the Aurora Bridge and clutches a full-size Volkswagen Beetle.
Fremont is a neighborhood that marches to the beat of its own drum. It’s the perfect home for an old-fashioned ice cream “microcreamery” and soda fountain — Bluebird Ice Cream.
When you walk into Bluebird, you don’t just set your watch back by five minutes — you set it back to 1950. All their sodas are made on-site, and dispensed on draft from an old-fashioned soda fountain. The milkshakes are mixed in a chrome-and-pastel 5-milkshake mixer, and served overflowing from vintage float glasses. By the front door, there’s an antique mechanical cash register, which hides behind it a modern credit card processor.
As you sit at a bar stool by the marble counter, feet 6 inches off the floor, sipping a milkshake from a striped paper straw, it’s easy to forget what century you’re in.
The ambience may help to draw in customers, but it’s the taste and quality that keep them coming back. Like the sodas, all Bluebird ice creams are made in-house. They are rich and creamy, with a nice variety of 10-15 flavors. Their ingredient selection is where they really shine: Bluebird chooses well-known partners from around the Seattle area, and artfully crafts ice cream flavors around their ingredients.
Theo’s Chocolate Chunk
Starting with closest-to-home is the Theo Chocolate Chunk. Theo’s Chocolate Factory is located just a five-minute walk away from Bluebird. On a summer day, as chocolate is being produced, the smell of chocolate wafts all the way from the factory to the ice cream shop. Theo’s holds the honor of being the first Organic and Fair Trade certified chocolate factory in North America. It is well-known across Seattle, and is also used by Molly Moon’s, Hot Cakes, and Seattle Pops. But Bluebird’s Theo Chocolate Chunk ice cream has a unique chunky texture, and is one of the most versatile flavors on the menu. (The Chocolate Pudding is a bit too rich for my taste.)
Bluebird often features an Elysian stout ice cream — but don’t be fooled! This is not just a treat for beer-lovers. They boil the Elysian stout with sugar to create a smooth stout-flavored caramel sauce. The end result is a sweet, complex caramel flavor.
CB’s Peanut Butter
CB’s peanuts are grown in Kingston, WA and delivered to Seattle via ferry. These fresh peanuts create a flavor that’s much more natural than any store-bought peanut butter ice cream. This pairs well with Theo’s Chocolate Chunk, or with the Remlinger Farms Marionberry flavor for a PB&J throwback!
Caffe Vita Coffee
I’ve saved my favorite for last. Seattlites are known for their love of coffee, and I’m no exception. On a cold, rainy winter morning, there’s nothing so comforting as a steaming cup of coffee in a local café. And on a hot summer evening, there’s nothing so refreshing as a scoop of coffee ice cream. My recommendation is to pair the Caffe Vita Coffee with the Theo’s Chocolate Chunk in a waffle cone. But make sure to go early! The Chocolate Chunk regularly sells out before the end of the night, and Caffe Vita has enough caffeine to keep you awake. 🙂
In addition to the Fremont location, Bluebird has two other locations throughout Seattle. Fremont is known for their soda fountain, floats, and old-fashioned ambience. Capitol Hill houses a Bluebird café, which also serves tea, coffee, and sandwiches. Green Lake is home to the Bluebird brewery, creating beers that pair well with their classic ice creams.
But across the board, the ice cream is definitely the star of the show at Bluebird.