“We don’t make the nuts,” said the woman behind the counter at Antoinette’s, pointing at the almonds, Spanish peanuts, cashews, and pecans available to top sundaes. “But we do make everything else.” That includes a grand selection of sauces: hot fudge, hot butterscotch, caramel, chocolate syrup, cinnamon, strawberry fruit, raspberry fruit, peanut butter, and, of course, marshmallow. Ice cream also is made here, from scratch. It’s smooth and pure and creamy, but it is not fancy-pants ice cream; its butterfat levels are modest enough that multiple scoops always are a good idea. And that’s the point. Few people come to Antoinette’s for a single scoop or small cone. They come for multi-scoop frappes (the local term for sundaes) with sauces, nuts, powdered chocolate, candy sprinkles, toasted coconut, and more, always topped with whipped cream squeezed from a canvas pastry bag. Need I mention that it is fresh whipped cream, made throughout the day by pouring nothing but heavy cream into a big blender and mixing until it attains the right body to crown a sundae?
There is a long menu of baroque sundaes such as Buttercrunch Crumble, the Greek Mint Special, Red Raspberry Rhapsody; but even an ordinary sundae is in fact extraordinary, each of its elements so perfect, all coming together in rhapsodic sweet-shop harmony. The hot fudge is especially wonderful, so much more about the flavor and luxe of cocoa butter than it is about sugar that you want to call it savory. It is especially profound when sharing space with fragile marshmallow sauce. If hot fudge is too fudgy, you can for an alternative sauce that Antoinette’s calls French chocolate pudding – cool, silk-smooth, and thick enough to eat with a fork.
But wait, there’s more. In addition to being one of the greatest ice cream parlors anywhere, Antoinette’s is one of Buffalo’s prime candy stores. That’s saying a lot, because this is a city with spectacular candy-makers (see also Alethea’s, Parkside Candy, Mike’s). They all make familiar bon bons, barks, cream-centers and chocolate-covered nuts and fruits; and most also offer Charlie Chaplin logs, which are unique to Buffalo, as well as sponge candy, variations of which are known elsewhere as fairy food, seafoam, or honeycomb. They’re all on display in the back room of Antoinette’s, beyond the counter where ice cream wonders are created.