How To Tell If A Restaurant's Ice Cream Is Worth Ordering

The next time you dine out and consider ordering a dessert after dinner, take a closer look at the menu. Knowing what to look for can tell you all you need to know about whether certain desserts are worth ordering — particularly when it comes to ice cream and gelato.

For example, if the dessert menu lists ice cream merely as an accompaniment to cake, pie, or a brownie, it's probably not going to be a show stopper. In fact, it might just be a regular ice cream variety available at any grocery store. However, if the ice cream or gelato is featured as its own separate menu item, it could indicate that the frozen dessert is either made in-house or is perhaps a premium ice cream made locally. Either way, such a distinction often means a higher quality of freshness, texture, and flavor, offering an experience you can't replicate with a store-bought item from the freezer aisle.

Consider the description over the price

Although you might expect the price of the dessert on the menu to reflect its quality, this isn't always the case. Restaurants often mark up the prices of desserts, including ice cream and gelato, because these items typically offer slimmer profit margins. High-quality ingredients required for a superior dessert cost more, sometimes exceeding what customers are willing to pay. Consequently, restaurants may choose to go for cheaper alternatives, such as a store-bought pint of simple vanilla ice cream.

With that being said, you should be able to identify high-quality ice cream or gelato by looking for specific phrases on the dessert menu. For example, it might be described as handmade in-house daily, with its ingredients listed. The menu might also specify that the ice cream or gelato is sourced from a local artisan shop. Such details indicate that the product is of higher quality, and could be worth the extra expense.

Is the restaurant even known for its frozen desserts?

Another factor to consider before ordering dessert is the restaurant's reputation for that specific sweet. For example, The Cheesecake Factory is renowned for its cheesecakes, making it a safe bet to try a slice. Similarly, if the restaurant you're dining at is commonly touted for its excellent ice cream or gelato, go ahead and order.

On the other end of the spectrum, if a restaurant's desserts haven't garnered much praise or attention, there's likely a reason for that. Sure, the frozen desserts might be fine, but if it were something you definitely needed to experience, people would be talking about it.

Of course, if you're undecided and haven't heard much about the desserts either way, a quick online search can be enlightening. If the restaurant's ice cream or gelato is outstanding, customer reviews will likely reflect this. Conversely, if the dessert menu is something you should skip, reviews won't beat around the bush.