First things first: I know all reviews by food/restaurant bloggers are biased, but I have to say that this post is the most biased review I’ve written to date – just a forewarning. COWS, Inc. and I go way back. And I mean way back…
I read another review that claims it’s only been in “recent years” that COWS, Inc. has brought their ice cream to B.C., all the way from P.E.I. Actually, that’s a bit inaccurate, if one is saying that based off of when the Whistler-based COWS opened up. There used to be a COWS ice cream store on Robson St. in Downtown Vancouver – no joke. It closed just over ten years ago – in 2002 I think, because one summer I came back to visit Vancouver and… it was gone. I was devastated. And by devastated, I mean tears-streaming-down-the-face-where-the-heck-is-my-favourite-ice-cream upset. Let’s just say I am passionate about my COWS ice cream… I can’t remember when the Robson store opened up, but I think it was around 1995 or 1996. (Could be totally off on that guess, though. I just remember eating COWS ice cream every single summer (and/or winter) I visited Vancouver.)
But I digress (hugely so). After eating at Sushi Village on our trip to Whistler, Emme and I visited COWS. Visiting this ice cream parlour is usually my actual motive for going to Whistler – no joke. We were lucky enough to get there before a huge crowd came in after us… Even in winter, I remember visiting the COWS storefront on Robson St and having to wait twenty-or-so minutes in a line that went out the door. I imagine it’s not much different at this branch – rain, snow, or sunshine.
Emme rolled with plainer flavours – two scoops, one of vanilla and one of chocolate – in a fancy chocolate-rimmed cone that had nuts embedded in the chocolate. Needless to say, both flavours are great. The chocolate was the highlight – no wonder there are two tubs of chocolate ice cream instead of just one behind the counter… – but the vanilla was top-of-the-line, too.
I got my childhood favourite… the flavour I waited in line for practically every time I visited the store on Robson… bubblegum. Yes, the most unnaturally coloured and flavoured one. I have to admit, my only beef with this flavour is that I’ve always hated the little “bubblegum” pieces that come with it. The texture of COWS ice cream is seriously out of this world – and they explain why on their website. The ice cream here has a high butterfat content, contributing to the incredible creaminess and wonderful mouthfeel. The nice thing about the ice cream, too, is that you actually feel full afterwards thanks to the high fat content. Love this stuff. I would argue that it is better than Häagen Dazs. Ahem… Aside from the amazing texture and overall taste, I must say that it was quite a bit sweeter than I remember. That might be the only other thing I would change about this particular flavour, next to the bubblegum pieces; the sweetness could be toned down a tad. In any case, I don’t think it’s a common feature amongst all the ice creams. The vanilla and chocolate were both less sweet, but spot-on in terms of sweetness as a result.
Okay, enough about the food (the most important part). I personally like the store ambiance – there is a lot of brand paraphernalia for sale (shirts, lipbalm, mugs, etc. etc.) with fun graphics and such. Also, while you could say the service is a pretty minimal part of the experience, the gentleman manning the counter that day was a great “server”. He was super friendly, quite jovial, and helpful. Definitely knowledgeable about the flavours, too, which was nice. Just made the overall experience even better.
A trip to Whistler is not complete without a visit (or multiple visits…) to COWS ice cream parlour. In my world, the trip to Whistler is made primarily to get this ice cream. It has been named one of the “World’s Top Ten Places for Ice Cream” for a very good reason. Whatever the season, it’s more than worth your while to stop by and grab some COWS ice cream.
Value: 5 [Expensive but SO worth every single penny. Seriously. This is considered some of the best ice cream in the world!]
Overall: 5 [Told you I’m super biased.]