Sunday, October 9, 2011

Il Dolce Freddo, Carlton by Big Fil

I was talking to a member of work's Mauritian Hakka posse about a new dumpling place that had just opened in Carlton. Neither of us could remember the street it was on so her directions started with 'You know that ice cream place where all the Asians go for their durian ice cream', which is a strange but pretty accurate description for Il Dolce Freddo.

In fact the first thing which strikes you after walking into this shop is the fragrant odour of durian. It's only one option amongst the probably thirty or so varieties on offer but the smell is so distinct and durian naturally so pungent that it's immediately recognisable to anyone who's had it before.

Now durian tends to be one of those things which people love or hate, mainly because of the smell. Various uncomplimentary things I've heard it compared to include rotting onions and public lavatories. Given that smell is such a large component of taste it's not surprising that a lot of people can't stand durian. Most of my Malaysian friends love it though. And me, while I find the smell strong I don't find it that unpleasant, and I like the flavour and texture so put me in the "like it" camp.

Given the smell is noticeable you'd expect the ice cream to have a fairly strong durian taste and it does. It's a fruit naturally creamy in texture but with a pretty unique taste that I've never heard a good description of. I think it tastes a little like strawberry custard but no one seems to agree with me on that. While I order it most of the time I come here it's not my favourite flavour.

That honour would go to the pandan and coconut. In some ways it's a bit of a given that it would be because I love the flavour of pandan; it's a large part of the reason why I like Malaysian kueh so much. Smooth in flavour and texture, it's something I could happily have every day.

There's something about Il Dolce Freddo which truly annoys me though. It's not the ice cream, which I think is amongst the better around town, or the shop set up, which I think is pretty good for an ice creamery. It's the service. Now while it's efficient and comes with a smile it reminds me a lot of service in America, which ticks all the boxes but somehow feels lacking in character or soul. But more importantly I'm sick of being asked if I've had durian before every time I order it here. It's not only that I am a semi-regular but the automatic assumption that everyone who isn't Asian may not know what they are doing when they order it. I think it should be partly caveat emptor (buyer beware) but the fact that even when I turn around and say to a companion 'you can notice the durian smell as soon as you walk through the door' there's still a lingering suspicion I may not know what I am ordering.

I like the ice cream and prices are fair ... just stop asking me if I've had durian before!

Food - 7.5
Ambience - 7.5
Service - 6 (and dropping)
Price - 6.5

116 Lygon Street
Carlton VIC 3053
Tel: (03) 9639 3344

Il Dolce Freddo on Urbanspoon

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