Graeters Ice Cream on S. Hurstbourne Parkway. ©2008 Doug Rivers.Graeters Ice Cream on S. Hurstbourne Parkway. ©2008 Doug Rivers.        

This is a review of a place that serves a product that I can’t eat without taking a pill first to prevent said product making me quite ill. Graeters Ice Cream makes what is probably the best ice cream I have ever eaten; but since I have long been lactose-intolerant, I tend to be rather picky about trying different ice cream parlors. That being said, I have taken the chance at many establishments across the country and have not found any that compare.

Graeters started out in Cincinnati in 1870 and has slowly expanded over the years across Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and most recently, to Denver, Colorado where it is being sold in King Sooper Stores. Graeters is made by the French Pot method (for an explanation see their website) two gallons at a time, which imparts a rich creaminess of texture without all the air that is whipped into other brands. They use fresh fruit and natural flavors to create the various flavors of ice cream and sorbets and they also use their own special liquid chocolate which is added to the ice cream as it is finishing freezing and then broken up after it has hardened with paddles to form the huge chocolate chunks that they almost laughingly refer to as “chips” in their chocolate chip flavors.

Lynda and I made our way to the Graeters on South Hurstbourne Parkway this past Saturday evening to indulge my craving for their ice cream. I forgot to mention that Graeters has a rotating series of flavors that they refer to as their “Seasonal Flavors” in which in any given month, there are 4 flavors on that menu and each of these flavors are available for a couple of months before being replaced by a new flavor from the series. September is the one month each year when Lynda’s two favorite Graeters flavors are both available — Peach and Pumpkin — but I don’t know which one is her absolute favorite.

The place is not the fanciest ice cream parlor I have ever been in, with upright, glass-doored freezers on one wall where you can buy boxed pints and half-gallons of their ice cream and ice cream pies and cakes, an order counter in the back and cheap round formica cafe tables and chairs like you would find in parlors selling lesser frozen concoctions elsewhere across the country.

When Lynda and I arrived, the place was packed. We figured that we would wind up eating our treats in the truck because even the bench out front was full and the only open table inside was in dire need of cleaning from the sloppy patrons whom had previously sat there. The harried staff is usually too busy to get out to the dining area to clean off the tables (and sometimes the chairs) as often as they should and this has been a bit of an issue for Lynda and myself. We would probably grab ice cream here more often than we do if the tables were bussed more often — well, disregarding the facts that we are both watching our diets and that I am diabetic, we would stop by more often.

We both made our selection from the Seasonal Flavors menu; Lynda got Pumpkin and I opted for the Banana Chocolate Chip. By the time we got our orders, a table had opened up and we didn’t have to sit in the dark in the truck and try to eat from overflowing cup of ice cream — an impending disaster if I ever heard of one. Lynda complained that they really put too much in her cup and she was afraid that she wouldn’t be able wouldn’t be able to eat it all, but she worked on what she could, looking contented all the while. My ice cream was just absolutely wonderful, the ice cream tasted more like I was eating a frozen, fresh banana and the chocolate chips were flat, random shaped chunks of dark, rich chocolate the size of small candy bars. I have a friend who insists on getting the hot fudge on most of the stuff from Graeters and I had considered it, but it would have been extreme chocolate overload on a dish of this. Ice ream doesn’t get any better than this!

Back in October 1999, Forbes Magazine published a list of the “100 Things Worth Every Penny” (see list here) and if you look down to #27, you’ll find Graeters Ice Cream. Graeters is more expensive than Baskin-Robbins or Cold Stone Creamery, but we think it is indeed “worth every penny.” If they would only hire enough help to keep the tables clean…

8 stars out of 10.


Louisville Menu

841 South Hurstbourne Parkway


Graeter's Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

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