We are fond of eating ice cream at early hours, is a habit developed in Sicily, where gelato isn’t unusual at breakfast. Sebastian Joe’s hours make it one of the few places in the U.S. where you can start the day with a scoop and a coffee or even an affagato. The coffee is roasted on-site and the ice cream is house churned, which means that the aroma inside is an intoxicating combination of waffle cone and espresso.
The bad news is that the coffee is not great. We think it tastes green and under-roasted, in spite its being listed as a dark roast blend. You might chalk that up to our personal taste, as fruity, more delicately roasted beans have become trendy these days, and we’re old-school coffee drinkers.
Good ice cream makes up for disappointing coffee. Its consistency is creamy, its flavors bright and bold. Usually, we don’t bother tasting a scoop shop’s vanilla, but Vanilla is a signature flavor and looks very appealing, speckled with vanilla bean. It’s a true vanilla lover’s vanilla, and it’s anything but boring. It would be great with cake or on a sundae, sure, but we think that this vanilla experience deserves to be tasted unadulterated.
“Nicollet Avenue Pothole” is a flavor for chocolate extremists, with salted dark chocolate ice cream further enriched by fudge ripples, mini chocolate truffles, caramel, and chunks of Heath bar. The flavor is named for the inevitable road damage that comes to a city with hard, long winters, and dedicated to Twin Cities residents for eating enough ice cream in freezing weather to support their shops.
Our favorite flavor is Raspberry Chocolate Chip. The base is a deep crimson and the fruit flavor is much stronger than typical. The tart, smooth raspberry ice cream is interrupted by bitter, crunchy flakes of dark chocolate forming an explosive bite with a full range of flavors.
Sebastian Joe’s was founded in 1984 by three Italian brothers. Over time, a few flavors have come to become permanent within their otherwise rotating cast of dozens. This hall-of-fame is known known as the Seven Signature Flavors: raspberry chocolate chip, chocolate, Pavarotti (caramel, bananas, chocolate chips in vanilla ice cream), salty caramel, vanilla, Oreo, and Nicollet Avenue Pothole. Shakes, malts, and sundaes are available, as are ice cream sandwiches and ice cream pies.
The bright cafe is a great place to catch up on work or the morning news. It’s bright, quiet, full of electrical outlets, caffeinated beverages, and fast WiFi. The greatest morning perk of all is silky ice cream.