Sweet Rose Creamery 2: Electric Pico-loo
Sweet Rose Creamery is a well regarded ice cream shop that opened in 2010 in the Brentwood Country Mart (actually in Santa Monica but bordering Brentwood). Its co-owners are husband-and-wife chefs Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan, of Rustic Canyon, Huckleberry, and Milo & Olive fame; and chef Shiho Yoshikawa, who is primarily responsible for developing the ice cream flavors at the shop.
While chefs Loeb’s and Nathan’s food has always been delicious, from Huckleberry’s turkey meatballs and brisket to Milo & Olive’s pizzas and cheesy eggs on cheese toast, and, of course, the amazing breads and pastries at both shops, I’ve had some hit-or-miss service at both places over the past few years (I have yet to try Rustic Canyon). At Sweet Rose Creamery, fortunately, I’ve only had friendly and efficient service, and the ice cream’s always been impeccable.
Today, Saturday, September 21st, Sweet Rose Creamery opened their second location in Santa Monica, on Pico Boulevard near its busy intersection with Lincoln Boulevard. The front-of-house interior seems about the same size as the Brentwood location, though accommodating equipment for serving coffee from Caffe Luxxe and baked goods from Milo & Olive in lieu of seating inside (or out, for that matter). From what I hear, the big difference is in the back of the house, with much more space than the Brentwood location for chef Yoshikawa to experiment and create new flavors.
[Apologies in advance for the length of this piece. It turned out less like a review and more like the chronicling of my “lost weekend” of binge ice cream and baked goods consumption.]
T-Minus 2 Days to Open
It was already announced that the Pico location would open today, but on Thursday afternoon my wife and I drove by and noticed the windows were no longer papered over and the doors were open. Of course we had to stop and check it out. It turned out they were doing a soft opening in the days leading up to the grand opening.
We went in looking to sample some of the new flavors, but the worker behind the counter said they weren’t handing out samples. Instead, for only a quarter, we could get one or two scoops of ice cream, in a cup or cone. Yup, just $0.25! To not seem too greedy, we just got one scoop each, the salted caramel ice cream for my wife, while I opted for the Kyoho grape soft serve.
Both were wonderful. The caramel had just the right amount of salt and wasn’t too sweet, and it had a fantastically complex burnt sugar flavor. The Kyoho grape had a bright yet mellow taste, not as overpowering as the flavor of Concord grape juice. It kind of reminded me of the Marukawa grape gumballs in little square packages I’d get at Asian markets growing up, except much, much better!
T-Minus 1 Day to Open
On Friday, after dropping the kids off at school and before heading to work, I stopped by again to check out the baked goods. I asked the worker behind the counter how late they’d be open, as the doors were locked by the time I brought my younger daughter there just after 6 PM on Thursday (staff were still busy inside, and a woman–who I believe is the manager–mouthed the word “tomorrow” to us through the glass, so I knew we had to come back the next day).
The worker explained that for their last soft open day, they’d be serving coffee and baked goods from 8-11 AM, closing (for training and prep work, I presume), and then reopening from 3-6 PM for ice cream. During the soft open, baked goods, like the ice cream, were just $0.25 (for the first piece, retail price after that). I did not get any coffee, but I assumed they could also be had for a quarter. I picked up two baked goods for me, one for my wife.
The first one for me was the cheddar and herb scone with pickled chiles. I’m not usually a fan of scones, but I am of this one (had one today too). It was a little flaky, not too dry, with a nice kick from the chiles.
I got my wife the blueberry brioche, which she enjoyed immensely.
The other baked good for me was the pancetta quiche. I was all set to love this as much as, if not more than, the scone, but it didn’t quite work out for me. I don’t have the healthiest eating habits, so I can generally handle something with an abundance of salt and cheese and fat, but this overwhelmed me a bit. Maybe it was because I had already had the scone. Mostly, the quiche was just a little too oily, right down to the crust.
After work that day, I brought my younger daughter back, since we had failed to get her a cone the day before. By the time we arrived, about a half hour before they were scheduled to close, word had gotten around, and a long line formed outside…
The same “friendly manager woman” (I’ll ask her name next time I’m in) from the previous day told my daughter she was glad we made it this time. I ordered for a scoop of Caffe Luxxe coffee ice cream, hidden underneath a scoop of fresh mint ice cream with house-made chocolate chips. The coffee ice cream was great, but the mint chip was the star. It tasted like freshly muddled mint leaves, with hints of basil and citrus, almost lemongrassy.
My daughter got a scoop of cookies & cream and a scoop of chocolate in a chocolate waffle cone. She started demolishing it almost immediately, so no photographic evidence exists of her cone. My wife also got a scoop of chocolate and a scoop of her new favorite, salted caramel. She rolled her eyes as I tried (and failed) to snap a pic of it.
T-Minus 0 Days to Open
Any finally we’ve come to the official grand opening day. After the kids’ soccer games earlier today, we decided to pay a visit to Sweet Rose Creamery for the third straight day. This time we knew we wouldn’t be able to score delicious treats for a quarter each, but it was still definitely worth it!
We got there around noon, and it looked like about half the pastries that were probably for sale at 7 AM were gone (regular hours are 7 AM to 10 PM, no break like during the soft open, with pastries in the morning, ice cream after 11 AM, and coffee all day). We picked up a whole wheat croissant and my second cheddar, herb, pickled chiles scone (not pictured) as well as a cheese stick that the “friendly manager woman” described as being made with a kind of cheese the name of which escapes me and also with cayenne pepper. It was also made with whole wheat, and the cayenne did give it a nice bite.
Of course, we couldn’t leave without ice cream. While the kids rolled their eyes at me (guess where they get it from) as I tried (and failed) to get pictures of their scoops of Caffe Luxxe coffee ice cream (older daughter) and cookies & cream (younger daughter), the wife and I both got the peanut butter and Kyoho grape soft serve swirl/twist, a.k.a. the “PB&J” (hers in a chocolate cone). A most inspired and ingenious combination!
To wrap up this post that’s gone on way too long, I’ll just say that I’m pretty sure we’ll be going back to Sweet Rose Creamery on Pico again soon, maybe tomorrow…
Update: We did go back “tomorrow” (today, uh, Sunday) for some breakfast pastries and coffee. The “friendly manager woman” greeted us warmly, and I found out her name! Thanks again, Andrea, for taking care of us!
Sweet Rose Creamery
826 Pico Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90404