Food Matters: Sweet scoops on Madison

Ice cream that will make you scream

Food Matters: Sweet scoops on Madison

Food Matters: Sweet scoops on Madison

Scoop du Jour has been at 4029 E. Madison since 1984, if you can believe it. Of course, ice cream “shoppes” have been around as long as apple pie, but the modern era really began with Häagen-Dazs, in Brooklyn, in the 1960s, and Baskin Robbins two decades before that, but in Seattle there really was only one ice cream parlor at that point, Farrell's, down at Southcenter.

Edward Washington grew up in this neighborhood, attended the Bush School and went on to the University of Washington, majoring in sociology. In 1984, he returned to Madison Park, and with his mother opened Scoop du Jour. Over thirty years later, he's still at it. Toward the end of last year, he closed the place for several months for renovations and remodeling. A wise move, but the good news is that Scoop has now reopened. A stark façade rather than anew awning, but otherwise open for business.

Cloud Top in California will provide the frozen yogurt that Scoop has added to its menu. The new dispensers are already installed and ready to go. One of the spouts will be reserved for Cloud Top's celebrated vegan coconut milk; the others will rotate flavors There will be a choice of sprinkles to top off the servings.

In addition to the ice creams, there's a broad menu of burgers, BLTs, and sandwiches. The burger, a shade over $10, tall with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle slices, and a generous patty, is served with chips. Good idea, in my view, to keep away from deep fried anything when you've got all those tubs of ice cream in the dipping cabinet.

The ice cream at Scoop comes from a quartet of local suppliers, notably Olympic Mountain Creamery, one of the top providers for the local wholesale market. Also on the list: Portland's Alpenrose, and Cascade Glacier (which supplies the popular “birthday cake” flavor). These are not the small batch, hipster products of creameries like Molly Moon, Bluebird, or Full Tilt, not, in other words, the super-premium artisan ice creams you find on Capitol Hill. This is Madison Park, after all. Delicious but unpretentious.You've heard of rocky road as an ice cream flavor; Scoop goes it one better with a “black tar” ice cream. (It's really licorice, but don't tell the giggling kids.) These are better than supermarket brands, but only by a few degrees. If you don't absolutely need to leave with a waffle cone   of chocolate raspberry swirl in your hand ($3.50 single scoop, $5.00 double), you should simply buy a pint and take it home ($6.50).

In fact, I'd take that burger home, too, and hit it with a shot of mustard or ketchup. The tuna salad sandwich ($8.95), too, benefited from an introduction to the salt shaker and some herbs. I'm beyond complaining about $10 prices for burgers, but do remember that this is the high-rent district. Your $20 bill will get you a sandwich and a cone, but don't expect a lot of change.

You remember Madison Valley's Ines Patisserie, perhaps? Until she moved to Capitol Hill, Nohra  Belaid occupied space at 2909 E. Madison, next to Cafe Flora. Now there are new occupants, a mother-daughter operation called Simply Soulful Cafe. Barbara and Lillian Rambus, basing much of their menu (Southern soul food) on family recipes like sweet potato pie. Red beans and rice, chicken and waffles, biscuits and gravy, sweet tea: that's the heart of the menu. The Rambus family started out operating a catering company, which sold the sweet potato pies at farmers markets and stores like Leschi Market and Central Co-op.  Lillian worked for the state of Washington until recently, and didn't go looking for a retail restaurant operation until her mom retired from Costco. Then they found the Madison Valley space and took the plunge.

Semi-final note: Brian Clevenger's newest venture has opened on 19th Avenue E., in the space that was formerly known as Ernest Loves Agnes (and, before that, as Kingfish Cafe). Madison Park Times readers know Clevenger's earlier spots in Madrona, Vendemmia and East Anchor, next door at 34th Avenue. And as befits a growing empire (a restaurant in West Seattle as well), there's a new website,

Final note. Grocery Outlet, at the corner of East Union and MLK, is worth checking out for (among other bargains) its wine selection. Not the most famous labels, of course, but half what you might pay in other locations. The best bargains, the ones to look for, are the facings with the fewest bottles left. There are ten Grocery Outlets in Seattle, most of them owner-operated, supported by a corporate staff of buyers. The company started in California 70 years ago selling government surplus food; it's now a 300-store chain in seven states and stocks fresh produce, frozen foods, as well as packaged grocery merchandise.

Ronald Holden is a restaurant writer for Pacific Publishing. You can contact him at His latest book, FORKING SEATTLE, is available on