First Look: The Ice Cream Bar, San Francisco

[Photographs: Wes Rowe]

Have you ever had a phosphate? What about a lactart? A malt, maybe, and a root beer float most definitely (what about with root beer that's made in house?) These oft-forgotten treats and more are being served at The Ice Cream Bar, an authentically retro ice cream parlor and soda fountain which opened in Cole Valley in January.

What does authentically retro mean? It means that the soda fountain is the real deal, made in the 1930s and sourced and shipped from Mackinaw City, Michigan. It means that the owner, Juliet Pries, didn't stop there. She also imported a beautiful 1930s era marble bar, and she set to work creating a menu that would include treats that most kids haven't even heard of. To get the drinks section of the menu just right, she teamed up with Russell Davis of Rickhouse to create a beverage program where everything is made in house. We're talking everything—they make the root beer from a sassafras elixir brewed with 11 herbs and spices. You can tailor make your own float from a list of homemade soda flavors that range from the classic (Vanilla) to the unique (think: Gardenia, Rosewood, and Dill Weed.)

"Old guys will come in and order a Sasparilla," says Juliet as I perch on a bar stool and watch her employees scoop ice cream in their coned paper hats. "And they'll say, this is too good to be true. They can't believe how much it tastes like the drinks they remember. One man even brought in his children. That's the best."

But it's not just soda. It's ice cream, cookies, sandwiches, cake, and sundaes. All scoops and extras are also made in house, from the buttery waffle cones to the cookies for the ice cream sandwiches to the marshmallows for the sundaes. Click through the slideshow to take a little trip back in time.

The Ice Cream Bar

815 Cole Street, San Francisco, CA 94117 (map) 415-742-4932