The magic of Fenton’s Creamery

by Kelsey

Fenton's Creamery ice creamFenton’s Creamery in the Bay Area is the haute couture of frozen desserts — simply drop the name when describing your sweet treat and people immediately understand that you are not talking about just any old scoop of ice cream; you’re talking about Fenton’s.

I first heard about the creamery (family-owned and -operated since its inception in 1894) from a close friend, who began reminiscing with her brother about the hand-made ice cream like it had the ability to change my hair to gold or make the poor rich…or something.

Her brother’s description: “Awesome, tasty, nummy”, and hers: “The ice cream sundae you dream about!

To be fair, in a city where “live active cultures,” “fat free” and “$0.30 an ounce” are practically initiation rites for being a true (frozen-yogurt-loving) Angeleno, the nostalgia for fat-filled ice cream seems totally understandable.

While in the Bay Area visiting family one blustery weekend, we drove right by it on our way to fuel up at one of the thousand coffee shops along Piedmont Ave., and I begged my parents to walk the five cold blocks to feed my curiosity.

I had a flight to catch, so we opted to get ours to go and ate perched on cold bench under the Fenton’s red awnings outside, but next time I’ll grab a seat inside, because the cheerful creamery has a soda fountain atmosphere that takes you right back to the 50’s. Metal cafe chairs and marble tables are crowded with elegant sundae glasses and banana split plates piled high with floats, sodas, shakes and sundaes — and plenty of cherries. Also on the menu: diner-fare burgers and sandwiches. Fenton’s charms are no secret, so be prepared for a wait at peak hours.

The steep prices ($4.95 for a small cup with two huge scoops) are completely worth it — the creamery hand-crafts its ice cream batch by 10-gallon batch at a time with high-content butterfat and without injecting air, making a product that is thick and creamy rather than whipped and airy, and ensures delivery from cow to customer in less than a week.

Can you taste the difference, you ask? I’m frugal, but I still have discerning taste buds, and let me put it this way: it was like the difference between those rubbery cardboard box pizzas in your freezer and the crispy, thin-crust, gourmet-topped pies fired up at Arizmendi‘s (which is hands-down some of the best pizza I’ve ever had.) This was real ice cream at its finest.

Choose from a list of over 30 gourmet flavors, including black walnut, Swiss milk chocolate, toasted almond, butter brickle, and all the usuals (chocolate chip, vanilla, chocolate); and nearly 20 rotating seasonal flavors like pomegranate, cinnamon, coconut pineapple light and rum raisin. They also have a flavor of frozen yogurt on hand: chocolate, vanilla, strawberry or mixed berry.

Wondering what that little number up there is?

That, my friends, was our densely packed two-scoop cup of Coffee Cookie Dream and Mocha Almond Fudge.

From Fenton’s.

Fenton's Creamery

Fenton’s Creamery
4226 Piedmont Ave
Oakland, CA 94611

Photo credits: Kelsey Ramos

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SinoSoul June 4, 2010 - 9:49 pm

I was told, over and over, Fenton's a tourist trap. In the East Bay, nothing beats I'ci, ice cream parlor with Chez Panisse pedigree. (This after sampling 6 ice cream shops in 2 days on both side of bridge)

Kelsey June 5, 2010 - 8:01 pm

Hey SinoSoul, thanks for the comment. I'll definitely try I'ci next time (and way to go on your epic ice cream sampling — I'm impressed!)

Gisele aka LA2LAChef June 12, 2010 - 2:06 pm

I spent many a college night making a run to Fenton's. Can't really eat like that anymore, but sometimes still grab a sundae (best caramel sauce-try it on the Swiss Milk Chocolate) whenI;m visiting the Bay Area. Can only eat half of them now, though. What a waste!

And to SinoSoul- you don't have people standing in line to get in all year round for over a 100 years without being something great.


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