Palo Alto, CA: Tin Pot Creamery's Thoughtful Flavors Tickle Our Tastebuds
Sunday, August 18, 2013

Tin Pot Creamery in Palo Alto, CA

Tin Pot Creamery is the best ice cream parlor to open up in the Bay Area in a long time. The shop was founded June 2013 by Becky Sunseri, a talented pastry chef who worked directly under the head of pastry at Facebook, in Menlo Park. SCOOP Blog had the pleasure of interviewing Becky to learn more about her new shop and her thoughts on ice cream, and a full transcript can be found here.

We don't believe it's a coincidence that one of the best ice cream shops to open in the Bay Area was founded by someone who made pastries for one of the greatest startups in the world. As a matter of fact, Facebook has a lot more to do with Tin Pot than simply being Becky's previous employer. As it turns out, like many great startups, the seeds of Tin Pot were planted by ambitious entrepreneurs at a previously existing startup. It was at Facebook that Becky met her anonymous partner, who shared Becky's love for ice cream and was determined to reinvigorate the South Bay's ice cream scene, which prior to Tin Pot, did not have any world class options.

And Tin Pot is definitely world-class. Unsatisfied with simply copying the flavors or styles of existing Bay Area successes like Bi-Rite or Humphry Slocombe, Tin Pot's unique texture and flavors take things in a different, delicious direction. The first thing that was clear to us when we tried Tin Pot's ice cream is that it is substantially denser and creamier than almost any ice cream we've reviewed. This unique texture really adds another dimension to the experience. But perhaps most memorable is Tin Pot's amazingly crafted, intensely balanced flavors.

The Line at Tin Pot

One shop with a similar philosophy of using fresh, balanced ingredients that comes to mind is Bi-Rite. But Tin Pot definitely kicks it up several notches, by really focusing on concentrated flavors that are so intense and authentic that it made one of our tasters jump back in awe. Two Tin Pot flavors that can be compared to Bi-Rite that definitely come out on top are the Snickerdoodle and the Strawberry Shortcake. Like Bi-Rite's Ricanellas and Balsamic Strawberry flavors, it is clear that Tin Pot is using the best, freshest ingredients. But we rate the balanced strength of the cinnamon flavor in Tin Pot's Snickerdoodle far higher than Bi-Rite's, and the mixed in bits of cookie makes this flavor memorable. Similarly, the Strawberry Shortcake's stronger flavor, combined with the added bits of shortcake, sets this flavor apart from Bi-Rite's take on Strawberry.

Tin Pot is such a young shop, and our early tastings show tremendous promise. We are extremely excited about the possibilities, and believe that Tin Pot has the opportunity to be on ice cream lovers' radars worldwide if it continues on its trajectory. Our only parting advice would be for Tin Pot to journey out of its comfort zone, focusing on experimenting with new flavors that inspire, while insisting on only selling flavors that are overwhelmingly superior.

Flavor Tasting Notes

The Flavors at Tin Pot

Salted Butterscotch

One of the most popular flavors at Tin Pot, and rightly so. This salted butterscotch has an unusually smooth, balanced salty flavor. This is an interesting contrast to the salted caramel flavors that are popping up all over the Bay Area. This flavor is definitely gentler and a little more complex, with the indulgent butteriness coming through (caramel traditionally doesn't use butter). Extremely creamy, and noticeably less dense than the other flavors at Tin Pot. But the higher creaminess and lower density really works out well for this flavor.

Earl Grey

Intense, balanced, multi-dimensional earl grey flavor. We really enjoyed this one and thought it was more developed than a lot of other earl greys we've tried recently. Dense and very creamy.

Strawberry Shortcake

Really deep strawberry flavor, with giant chunks of shortcake that are perfectly textured and fresh. Great density and smoothness. Very well executed.

Cheesecake with Cherries and Almond Toffee

Amazingly rich, yet not overpowering, cream cheese base. The cherries incorporated as a mix-in are really delicious, and slightly sour. Very classy. Not too much almond toffee in our scoop, so hard to pinpoint how it affected the flavor. Our scoop was very creamy and dense, similar in texture to the other flavors we tried.

Cinnamon Snickerdoodle

Balanced, strong cinnamon flavor, with bits of snickerdoodle cookie thrown in. We really liked the texture of the fresh cookies, which gave this flavor a big leg up over other cinnamon ice creams we've tried.

Sweet Cream Balsamic Swirl

This was one of our favorite flavors at Tin Pot. The sweet cream base was extremely flavorful, and reminded us of the amazing sweet cream ice cream at Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous. The amazingly balanced sweet balsamic rippled throughout really complemented well with the cream base, and made for a unique flavor. We thought that the balsamic somehow integrated better in this flavor than at other ice cream shops, where balsamic is simply drizzled on top. Perhaps the drizzle was infused with sugar, reduced, or otherwise enhanced for the flavor. Our one comment is that it seemed as though the base texture really varied throughout our scoop, with there appearing to be denser pockets in certain areas.

Vanilla Bean

Greatly executed vanilla flavor, which was well-rounded and deep. This scoop shared the great texture of other options at Tin Pot.

Roasted Banana Fudge Ripple

Solid banana base, although we would have personally liked to experience a deeper roasted note. Although this flavor would have been fine at any other shop, we believe that it was not as well-executed as the other flavors we found at Tin Pot. Our biggest issue with this flavor was the way it evolved as the scoop began to melt. The fudge in this ice cream is perfectly fine, but as the ice cream melted, the ripple completely blended into the banana flavor, creating a sort of muddled banana chocolate flavor, where neither component truly shines. One option would be for Tin Pot to use a denser fudge ripple, which would be less likely to completely blend. Also, like the Sweet Cream Balsamic flavor, we found that this scoop had variations in density throughout. We had both these scoops on the same day, and perhaps it was a one-off occurrence, as we did not notice this issue in flavors on a later trip.

Final Score: 8.5/10

Tin Pot Creamery

855 El Camino Real #121, Palo Alto, California 94301 (inside Town and Country)