Chinese checkers and a tub of ice cream at grandma’s house: Those were the inspirations for chef Alex George’s new ice cream shop, Carol’s Ice Cream, that opened this summer in the Village of West Greenville.
The shop at 1260 Pendleton St. next to The Village Grind recently established consistent hours of operation, Thursday-Sunday, with the goal of expanding to six days a week.
George, the chef at Golden Brown & Delicious restaurant just across the street, remembers his paternal grandmother, Carol, before she passed away seven years ago, serving ice cream from one of the giant value tubs. There was nothing fancy about it, but she added her own special touch, scooping it into a bowl and then whipping the ice cream with a spoon until it was creamy and smooth.
“I don’t like chewing ice cream,” George says.
Chinese checkers games were also a staple at grandma Carol’s house, and that inspiration is seen in the new shop from the wall-sized conceptual mural on the right wall to the wooden game boards available for customers to play.
And as to the soft ice cream, George has kicked that up a notch.
Instead of scooping pre-frozen ice cream into dishes and adding toppings, he is using liquid nitrogen at minus 320 degrees Fahrenheit to freeze the liquid ice cream mix to order while the customer watches — often wide-eyed with loud exclamations when the nitrogen “smoke” billows out of the mixing bowl and down the counter.
Ordering at Carol’s is slightly different than a typical ice cream shop, and while similar to a Marble Slab or Spill the Beans create-your-own model, the execution is entirely different.
First, you choose your base — vanilla custard, chocolate sorbet, coconut cream, or seasonal fruit sorbets. George says he has plans to create tea sorbets, as well. The vanilla custard is the only flavor that uses cow’s milk. The others are all vegan-friendly.
Then you choose a flavored syrup made in house, such as coffee, hazelnut, pineapple, pumpkin, lavender, or mint. The syrup will be poured in during the mixing process.
Once those two choices are made, the pre-portioned ice cream base is poured into the mixing bowl of an orange KitchenAid mixer. While the whisk arm spins around the bowl, liquid nitrogen is poured in slowly. The flavor is added, and the process continues until the ice cream or sorbet reaches the correct frozen — but not hard — consistency.
Additional toppings, also made in house except for the sprinkles and maraschino cherries, include gluten-free cookie dough, brownies, cinnamon streusel, milk crumb, and pizzelles.
George says his goal for all of the components is that they are either made in house or at least, he’s involved in the process, such as toasting the nut toppings. That’s led him to the decision to make his own Oreo-style sandwich cookies, which he hasn’t done yet, but says he will soon.
Speaking of sandwiches, doughnut ice cream sandwiches are also on the menu. George is known for his yeasted doughnuts he serves for brunch and special occasions at GB&D, and those same doughnuts are used to create the “bread” with ice cream as the filling. Grilled in a special press, they are served warm. George says he sees those as a big seller when the outdoor temps dip.
Now that his staff is solidly trained, George wants to begin advertising specials or staff recommendation for flavor combinations, such as pumpkin and cheesecake syrups — a current seasonal favorite combo.
For those not as adventurous or wanting to spend around $6 for a single dish, Carol’s also offers soft-serve vanilla ice cream, made from scratch and dispensed from a soft-serve machine, for $1.50.
If you go
Carol’s Ice Cream
- 1260 Pendleton St.
- Open 4-9 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays, 2-9 p.m. Saturdays, 2-7 p.m. Sundays
- Follow @carolsicecream on Instagram for updates