Portland, OR: A Focus on Fresh, Local Ingredients at Ruby Jewel
Friday, February 1, 2013

Ruby Jewel's motto is "All natural. All good." This simple formula, along with Ruby Jewel's focus on organic local farms, just about sums up one of the best ice cream shops in Portland.

Churning out scoops that focus on local, all-natural ingredients since 2004, this shop with two locations has made a name for itself as a flavor innovator and an ice cream sandwich lover's paradise. This magnificent shop had humble beginnings, with the founder selling ice cream sandwiches out of a cooler at local farmers markets. Ruby Jewel gained a religious following over the years, allowing the founder and her sister, Lisa Herlinger-Esco and Becky Burnett, to open up their first standalone shop together in 2010. The Ruby Jewel shop is a thoughtfully decorated temple to all things ice cream, intermixing visual motifs evoking classic ice cream parlors and stunning pictures of the ingredients the shop sources for its batches. It was Ruby Jewel's focus on detail that drew the attention of this blog.

Ruby Jewel's Ice Cream is perfectly dense, and oh so tasty

Ruby Jewel's ice cream is exceptional for its unusual smoothness, with many of its flavors exhibiting a wonderfully dense, mouth coating creme. The shop separates its flavors into "always flavors" that you can buy any time like Oregon Strawberry and Honey Lavender, and "daily special" rotating flavors. We found the flavors here to exhibit a fine attention to detail, with local ingredients being used to create unique experiences with familiar flavors. For example, the Oregon Strawberry clearly highlights the freshness and unique character of the locally grown berries, making this Strawberry flavor different than any other out there.

Flavor Tasting Notes

This place takes their ingredients VERY seriously, and has the photographic evidence to prove it!

Oregon Strawberry

Incredibly strong, natural strawberry flavor that highlights the ripeness of Oregon fruit. Has small bits of fresh strawberry mixed in. Very smooth, with a medium density. Outstanding.

Honey Lavender

Extremely delicate and balanced lavender flavor, with discernible honey notes. We were especially impressed by this flavor, because so many honey lavender ice creams tend to have an overpowering, almost harsh, lavender note. The density of this ice cream was outrageously smooth, with a good density.

Brown Butter Sage and Honey

A great, balanced brown butter flavor really comes through on this one, with only a hint of sage in the background. The honey flavor was hard to identify. Great density, with excellent smoothness that characterizes all the scoops at this shop.

Coffee Toffee

Reminiscent of Haagen Dasz's coffee flavor, but on steroids. The coffee flavor was simultaneously amplified and more balanced, with outstanding smoothness adding tremendously to a very familiar style of flavor. If you want an ice cream that really showcases the amazing texture that this shop is capable of, this is a flavor you can't miss. This ice cream was the densest we had at Ruby Jewel, and was all-around fun to eat. One thing to mention is that our scoop had very little toffee. This was probably for the best, because the hardness of the toffee would have distracted us from the amazing texture.

Fresh Mint Flake

This ice cream was the sole disappointment of our trip. Though the flavor proudly proclaims that it uses fresh mint, it was hard to tell from the sample we reviewed. It almost seemed like they might as well could have used an extract. We've rated some brilliant mint flavors at other shops, like at Je & Jo, which really highlight subtle, fresh mint flavors. This ice cream seemed overpowering and did not bring out the natural freshness of the base ingredient. The chocolate is well integrated, but relatively scarce. We found the texture of this scoop to be disappointing, compared to the other options at this wonderful shop.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwich

Ruby Jewel got its start hawking ice cream sandwiches at the local market, and OH MY GOD this sandwich is delicious. We really enjoyed the expertly made, dense salted caramel flavor, and the chocolate cookie that encases this wonderful goodness is oh so gooey and rich. We highly recommend you try their ice cream sandwiches, which are now being shipped to other parts of the US.

Final Score: 8.5/10

Ruby Jewel

3713 N. Mississippi Avenue, Portland, OR