On a recent Sunday I was in the mood for structure and formality -- specifically, a glass ice cream dish and table service -- so I plunked myself down in a booth at 59 Diner.
I considered a butterscotch All-American Sundae, one of the "Soda Jerk Specialties," which comes with your choice of Blue Bell ice cream. (I had strange, brief visions of choosing mint chocolate chip.) More enticing, however, was the brownie topped with fudge and ice cream. Though it's not technically a sundae, I thought, with a little finagling, it could be spectacular.
The accommodating waitress didn't blink twice when I ordered a brownie with two scoops of vanilla ice cream, butterscotch and whipped cream. I forgot to ask for a cherry, a mistake that I know will cause some sundae purists to call me out for poor form.
My butterscotch brownie sundae arrived in a shallow bowl, and while initially I was disappointed at the lack of an old-school deep glass dish, I soon realized the many advantages of a more horizontal presentation. First, greater width allows for greater topping dispensation. The soda jerk wasn't stingy with the butterscotch, and I appreciated the way it slid down the side of the scoops to coalesce in a pool around the brownie. Second, more surface area means more space for whipped cream. Instead of the small crown afforded by a taller glass, several sizable puffs of cream circled the ice cream.
Unfortunately, lying in wait underneath this promising conglomeration of ice cream, butterscotch and whipped cream was the hardest, driest brownie I have ever encountered in my life. How this thing managed to stay so stiff and dessicated under a mound of liquid dairy is a mystery. As I approached the end of the sundae, I couldn't even cut the brownie with my spoon and so resorted to gnawing at it like a sugar-addled cavewoman.
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Houston restaurants continually meet and exceed my culinary expectations, except in the realm of sundaes. I'm not ashamed to say I miss Friendly's, and that at times I find myself grumbling because we don't have something like Serendipity. (Not that I really want to spend 15 bucks on ice cream and toppings, but the option would be nice.)
Is there some secret fantastic sundae joint I've been ignoring? Or an off-the-menu secret sundae option at a local restaurant?