A swirl of malted milk and Captain Crunch soft serve ice creams, with crumbled cereal
As afternoon temperatures pushed 90 last Wednesday, ice cream fans lined up in Mission Hills to be among the first to get scoops from Mr. Trustee, the neighborhood’s newest ice cream shop. Like me, they must have decided that a refreshing frozen dessert sounded like just the cure for feeling stuck at home.
Photograph by Ian Anderson
We all scream for ice cream, but this small-batch creamery comes with a bit of pedigree attached. It’s the latest offering by the Trust Restaurant Group, best known for fine dining restaurants Trust and Fort Oak. The group recently took over the large Mission Hills restaurant space formerly known as Brooklyn Girl, where it installed an Italian restaurant and bakery named Cardellino.
Cardellino had barely been open six weeks before closing due to coronavirus restrictions. And while the Trust group has subsequently concentrated all of its take-out service out of Fort Oak, a block away, Mr. Trustee had already been conceptualized as a sidewalk takeout counter, which makes it an ideal candidate for socially distant service.
4033 Goldfinch St, San Diego
Even prior to its 4 pm opening time, masked customers began to form a well-spaced line around the corner. Trust pastry chef Jeremy Harville, the ice cream maker behind the shop, tells me the lines continued all evening, and remained when he and his staff finally closed at 9 pm, their wrists sore from excessive scooping.
Many of Harville’s ice creams may be familiar to fans of Trust and Fort Oak, as they’re the same recipes found on those restaurants’ dessert menus. Harville says he enjoys bringing a nostalgic approach to all his dessert making, and with ice cream in particular he’s inspired by trips to get cones from Thrifty drug stores while growing up.
A scoop of malted chocolate brownie ice cream in a house waffle cone at Mr. Trustee
Consequently, while most of San Diego’s small batch ice cream makers revel in experimental ice cream flavors that incorporate ingredients such as ube, tea, and balsamic vinegar, Mr. Trustee debuted with classics, including cookies & cream, butter pecan, and mint chocolate chip.
Which isn’t to say these flavors are exactly thrifty. Mr. Trustee’s ice creams elevate such concepts, first by sourcing ingredients from the same vendors as its fine dining sister restaurants. So that mint chocolate chip is made with fresh mint leaves, and local strawberries go into an exceptionally creamy strawberry cheesecake. For butter pecan, first pecans are steeped with butter and cream for flavor, then fresh pecans are added later to finish.
Strawberry cheesecake ice cream from Mr. Trustee
Other flavors receive subtle updates. For example, vanilla becomes honey vanilla, and the chocolate ice cream on hand is a decadent, malted chocolate brownie. A more modern classic, chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, becomes white chocolate macadamia cookie dough.
However, Mr. Trustee adds another frozen dessert element not found at Trust’s upscale restaurants: soft serve ice cream. In this regard, nostalgia ruled the shop’s opening; two flavors are offered individually or swirled together in a cup or wafer cone: malted vanilla and Cap’n Crunch. The latter gets its flavor from the unmistakable corn and oat crunch of its namesake cereal, and crumbled cereal garnishes the tall swirl of sweetness coming out of the soft serve machine.
Opening day at a new sidewalk counter small batch ice cream shop
Soft serve is a relatively new medium for Harville, who’s been making ice cream as a pastry chef the past nine years. He says he’s experimenting with a soft serve strawberry sorbet he aims to release this summer, hoping to create an icy meets creamy swirl with cheesecake soft serve.
The first wave of customers stand in socially distant line for ice cream at the opening day of Mr. Trustee.
In the meantime, his traditional small batch creations may see exciting developments ahead. Harville’s planning a lemon meringue pie ice cream in the weeks ahead, and he’s awaiting peach season to begin, so he may unveil a bourbon peach flavor, potentially working with locally produced spirits. That one especially gives me something to look forward to.
Especially if the psychological toll of the pandemic shutdown extends to summer, I, you, all of us may all be counting on a lot of ice cream to make it through.