Best Ice Cream in New England: Roadfood's Search


Friend of Serious Eats and Roadfooder Stephen Rushmore embarked on an insane 50-stop journey with two other Roadfooders, searching for the best ice cream in New England. They covered six states and hundreds of miles and came to some surprising conclusions. Stephen gave us the scoop on his incredible ice cream journey.

"It took about two places before we nailed down our ordering methodology," Rushmore said. "One of the great things about ice creameries is that you get to try before you buy. We [fellow Roadfooders Chris Ayers and Amy Briesch] took full advantage of this. We each sampled about two to three different flavors to get a feel for how well the place was going to score. When we finally got around to ordering, we always had vanilla ice cream with hot fudge sauce and then a double or triple scoop of several other flavors."

So what's the top spot in the former colonies? "The absolute best ice cream in New England can be found in Maine," Rushmore said. "You need to travel three hours north of Boston to Tubby's Ice Cream in Wayne for the most natural tasting, texturally pleasing, sweet creamery in New England. We thoroughly enjoyed Tree Hugger Ice Cream, which is like your mom's apple crumble with a velvet textured maple ice cream pleasantly interrupted by rolled oats. If high gas prices prevent you from driving long distances, our number two favorite was Shaw's Ridge Farm in Sanford, Maine. Caffeine junkies should order the super-intense Grammy Shaw's Coffee Ice Cream. Our third favorite and the winner in the Boston metro category was Herrell's. Order a Chocolate Pudding Ice Cream and you will have childhood memories of eating Fudgesicles on a hot summer day."

The only other ice cream that received Rushmore's highest five-cone rating was Sundae School on Cape Cod (they visited the Dennisport location).

Rushmore says that much of the hot fudge they sampled was not so hot. "A couple of noteworthy items really stood out during this experience," he said. "First, it's astonishing how many places go through the trouble of making ice cream from scratch yet serve canned hot fudge sauce on their sundaes. We estimated only 20 percent of the places served homemade sauces. The other surprising moment occurred while developing our shortlist of creameries—Vermont, the dairy capital of the Northeast, has virtually no homemade hard-served ice cream stands. Everyone knows Ben & Jerry's [disqualified from the survey as a national label], but can you name two other places?"

I've never sampled any of Rushmore's highest rated licks (it kills me to admit that), but I have had very good ice cream at a couple of his better-known also-rans, including Toscanini's in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Dr. Mike's in Bethel, Connecticut.

New Englanders take their ice cream seriously, so there's bound to be some controversy surrounding the Roadfood picks. I can't quarrel with any of the choices. I just hope Rushmore asks me to go on the next ice cream exploration.