By Jasmin Sun
Growing up, the only ice cream sandwich I could get my hands on was wrapped in foil, printed with a polar bear’s likeness. Now, I’m not knocking the Klondike bar when I say this — and hey, they’re now Kanye West-approved! — but oh, how times have changed for the tastier. Nowadays, not only can you get an ice cream sandwich made with fresh-baked cookies, you can get one filled with locally sourced, handmade ice cream. And once you’ve discovered that said handmade frozen dairy deliciousness contains bits of candied bacon à la Coolhaus, going back to anything prepackaged is out of the question.
The vintage 80’s mail truck that this ice cream sandwich-dishing restaurant operates is fully functional and completely drivable, allowing Coolhaus (a nod to Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas) to move to different locations daily. While this may keep things exciting for them, it becomes quite annoying when you’re not quite certain how far you’ll need to drive on a given day to get your sugar fix. In their defense, they do publish a weekly calendar on their site tells you when and where they’ll be each day of the week. They update their location via Twitter as well.
Following along with the theme, the treats–and sometimes their names–are supposedly aimed for the architecturally minded. Upon further Internet scouring following my personal experience, I’ve realized that the buildings-related wordplay was lost in translation when Coolhaus was franchised into Austin from its original Los Angeles location. The L.A. counterpart features ice cream flavor name witticisms like Frank Behry, Mintimalism, and Louis Kahntaloupe. I suppose this makes me feel a bit better for not immediately recognizing that the “I.M. Pei-nut Butter Ice Cream” was referring to famed modern architect I. M. Pei, the mind behind the iconic glass-and-steel pyramid at the Musée du Louvre.
The concept at Coolhaus is simple: you choose one an ice cream flavor, then choose a type of cookie to sandwich it in. Or, if you’re adventurous, you can choose two different flavors of cookie. My favorite flavors ended up being the Dirty Mint Chip (“dirty” because of the real mint leaves found within) and the Brown Butter with Candied Bacon. I liked that the mint flavor was almost overpowering on the former–the opposite of what I typically find in classic mint chocolate chip ice creams. I usually get far more chocolate than mint for my taste, which isn’t altogether terrible–but it was refreshing to find that I could actually taste the mint.
I ended up deciding on the Brown Butter with Candied Bacon. As much as I like bacon in dishes, I’m also a big proponent of not mixing sweet and savory, so I was a bit wary when tasting the flavor sample. But I was blown away by how much I liked the combination. The candied-ness of the bacon allowed the concoction to taste like a true dessert, without the awkward 50-50 sugary/salty ratio I try my hardest to avoid. The ice cream itself tasted like a traditional sweet cream, although I suspect it may have been sweetened with brown sugar, hence the name. I chose snickerdoodle cookies to go with my ice cream, which didn’t really improve or detract from the flavor. They were very well-baked cookies, though–chewy throughout with a slightly crispy exterior. It’s also worth noting that the sandwiches were served in an edible wrapper made of potato flour. Personally, I couldn’t bring myself to take more than a couple of nibbles–the texture was a bit too close to styrofoam for my liking–but my roommate polished off his entire order. Sandwich, wrapper, all of it.
While the ice cream was delicious, I don’t find myself dying to return. But be warned, though, that I prefer savory foods over sugary treats. So that means if you’ve got a bona fide sweet tooth that needs taming, I fully recommend paying a visit to the Coolhaus.
Location and opening times vary daily.