Remember those wholesome family trips to the soda fountain, when you used to sit at the counter and drink homemade soda together? Maybe dig into some ice cream or pie? …No? Well, maybe that’s not surprising, since soda fountains saw their heyday back in the time of Leave It to Beaver. But it sounds great, doesn’t it? Fortunately, Bubby’s High Line in Greenwich Village has brought back the old-timey flavors of the soda fountain — and what’s more, everything here is made from scratch.
When you step in, you’re met by “fountaineers” dressed in white uniforms with sailor-like hats and bow ties, who ask you what you’d like. You gaze behind the counter, mesmerized by wooden shelves housing glass ice cream dishes, stacks of sugar cones, and mason jars full of colorful toppings. The rich scent of chocolate mixed with caramel and cookies brings you out of your daze, and you begin to scan the menu. You won’t find your familiar brand-name sodas here — the ice creams, syrups, and sodas are all house-made.
You’re not sure what to order from the bright and bubbly wall menu, while seasonal flavors featuring foraged ingredients (they actually have an in-house forager) entice you further. There are classics like the banana split, root beer float, and chocolate egg cream. The latter, a New York favorite, may sound weird (if you were born after 1920), but the slight fizziness complements the creamy chocolate delightfully. If you opt for the DIY route, the fountaineer will instruct you to first choose whether you want a soda, sundae, or cone. From there, select your ice cream before picking syrups – like ginger and orange – and toppings, including everything from chopped candied ginger to toasted marshmallow and brownie crumbs. If you’d like to make it a float, their homemade sodas are definitely worth looking into – especially the root beer, whose root-and-herb ingredients contain stuff you’ve probably never seen in real life (seriously, what is sassafras?). You’ll still recognize the sweet, bold taste of immediately.
Bubby’s owner Ron Silver says his favorite ice cream soda is the orange whip, a house-made orange soda with vanilla ice cream. But if you’re craving something quirky, he suggests the currant sour: essentially a currant and cider vinegar soda that will make your mouth pleasantly pucker, with a delightful fizz from soda bubbles.
Order your treat and then cozy up at one of the restaurant tables, or take it to go and wander the around the elevated High Line Park nearby. A visit to the soda fountain and a family walk in the park? What year is this again?