With Memorial Day Weekend behind us, it’s finally time to start enjoying some of the wonderful foods of summer. You know what I mean — somehow those crinkle-cut fries, funnel cakes and giant pizza slices just taste better when you eat them on the boardwalk on a warm July night. That cup of water ice is extra refreshing during a mid-August heatwave. Like the season itself, these snacks inspire you to kick back, take life a bit less seriously and indulge the way you did as a kid.
This summer I will explore some of the most beloved summer treats in South Jersey, as I head to a new spot each time to find the best offerings of each category. I invite you to come along with me on what will surely be a fun, flavorful adventure. Welcome to Summer Treats.
This week we kick things off with a universally-loved dessert that is truly a symbol of summer — ice cream.
Ice cream is not hard to come by at the Jersey Shore (or anywhere really). You can find it at just about every convenience store or supermarket, but like any fun food it’s never as good at home. It needs to be served at a destination with neon lights and a walk-up window. Luckily I knew just where to go to fulfill this vision — Margate Dairy Bar & Burger in Margate.
I’m not sure why, but something about an ice cream parlor that’s been around for a long time makes it more appealing. Margate Dairy Bar falls in that category, as it opened its doors in 1952, a time that in my head was all about riding around in Chevy convertibles and splitting hot fudge sundaes with your girlfriend. Of course I wasn’t born until 1978, so my beliefs are based on nothing but vague Hollywood stereotypes of the time, but no matter — it’s the way I want to imagine it.
The great thing about Margate Dairy Bar & Burger is that in case the name didn’t tip you off, they serve more than just ice cream. In fact their burgers are so good that they have won top honors at AC Weekly’s Burger Bash on more than one occasion. So it’s a no-brainer to grab a burger or a hot dog for dinner and then treat yourself to some ice cream for dessert. And so I headed down with my wife in tow and did just that.
What we got:Bananas Foster Ice Cream Sundae: Sundaes are a dime a dozen, and Margate Dairy Bar offers all of your standard varieties topped with Oreos and Reese’s and whatnot, but I was in search of something a bit more outside the box, and the Bananas Foster Ice Cream Sundae fit the bill. I can’t say I have ever seen a sundae like this on any ice cream shop menu, and that’s a real tragedy, as it was all but perfect. It took a bit for them to prepare it, but when it finally was presented to me, I quickly forgave the wait time. Mounds of soft serve vanilla ice cream came topped with warm caramelized bananas, brown sugar, a downright obscene amount of whipped cream and two cherries. Somehow despite the long list of ingredients, each flavor was easily discernable. I’m not even a big fan of bananas generally, but when prepared in this fashion they really shine. The brown sugar was a fabulous addition, too. One thing to note is that being that this sundae contains warm ingredients, it melts VERY quickly. The whipped cream was the most obvious victim of this problem, and the whole thing began to take on a soup-like consistency faster than I expected, so consuming it quickly is strongly advised.
Chocolate Chunk Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich: Remember the Chipwich? That awesome ice cream sandwich made with chocolate chip cookies that you would buy from the ice cream truck when you were a kid? Those were great and were clearly the inspiration behind the Chocolate Chunk Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich that my wife ordered at Margate Dairy Bar & Burger. I, of course, helped myself to a few bites, purely for journalistic reasons.
It delivered in just about every way. First off, this sandwich is at least twice the size of the ones you remember from childhood. Also, it’s made using fresh-baked cookies that are kept chilled so they don’t fall apart when used in sandwich form. They could have been a touch softer in my opinion, but they did hold up to the ice cream — a beautifully creamy vanilla soft serve rolled in chocolate chips just like the old Chipwich was. A highly nostalgic and fun treat.
Last licksThe trickiest thing about going out for ice cream is figuring out what to get. And even after two home run choices at Margate Dairy Bar, both I and my wife still felt like we were missing out on so many other incredible shakes, cones, sundaes and more. And obviously we were. But in the end that just means we’ll have to return again and again this summer, and I’m definitely ok with that.
Margate Dairy Bar & Burger is located at 9510 Ventnor Ave. in Margate. Go to MargateDairyBar.com.
Associate Editor, At The Shore/ACWeekly