Restaurants / Openings

New York Ice Cream Wizards Are Opening a New Montrose Scoop Shop — Inside Van Leeuwen’s Sweet Expansion

Classic Treats Get a French Twist

BY // 02.07.22

It is a decadent ice cream brand with a name that initially trips — rather than — rolls off your tongue: Van Leeuwen. Practice with me, it’s pronounced Van (like mini-van), Lou (like the name) and inn (think hotel). The Van Leeuwen brand of premium ice cream was first launched in a bright yellow ice cream truck rolling around New York City in 2008 by brothers Ben and Pete Van Leeuwen, along with Laura O’Neill, an Aussie living in America. Now their scoops are making a mark in Houston.

A new Van Leeuwen ice cream shop is set to open in the new Montrose Collective development in March. Van Leeuwen already has scoop shops in Rice Village and Uptown Park.

The trio behind Van Leeuwen is on a mission to make good ice cream from good stuff that makes you feel good, too. They start with ingredients that — unlike their moniker — aren’t hard to pronounce. Read: cane sugar, milk, heavy cream and, eggs — reportedly twice as many eggs as ordinary ice cream. In fact, many of their made-from-scratch selections are labeled “French ice cream” a process that traditionally indicates an egg-rich custard base that results in a denser ice cream.

The flavor options even include unctuous vegan ice creams made with oat, rice and/or cashew milks.

“We are excited to be opening in Houston,” says Ben Van Leeuwen, co-founder and CEO of Van Leeuwen. “As a small, family run business, the decision to expand into a new market was a really big deal for us. What attracted us to Houston was the incredible cultural and culinary diversity and the feeling of progress, growth in modernity, the city radiates.

“The average daily temperature didn’t hurt either.”

Ben Van Leeuwen of Van Leeuwen Ice Cream
Co-owner Ben Van Leeuwen of the new Van Leeuwen ice cream shops. (Photo by Alex Montoya)

Swoop into any Van Leeuwen and you’ll find 30 varieties from the classics (we see you vanilla bean) to clever combos like brown sugar cookie dough made with dark brown sugar, candied walnuts and chunks of cookie dough, and royal wedding cake created with a sweet cream cheese ice cream with pieces of lemon sponge cake swirled with elderberry icing. I swooned over the honeycomb ice cream, which tastes as its name suggests, but is actually made with caramel candy.

For those partial to strawberry, consider branching out to try the berry good marionberry cheesecake ice cream made with farm fresh marionberries grown in Oregon and studded with graham crumble. And for the kid in you take a bite of a truly cheeky flavor. Kraft macaroni and cheese ice cream made with that recognizable day-glow cheese packet included in every mac n’cheese box.

Van Leeuwen’s Limited Editiion Winter Flavors
Van Leeuwen introduced four limited-edition flavors this winter available until early March. (Photo by Alex Montoya)

Aside from scoops upon scoops, you can opt to top your favorite flavors with sauces from hot fudge to caramel — and toppings from whipped cream to crushed cookies to rainbow sprinkles. There are root beer floats, ice cream bars (including vegan ones) and thick milkshakes too.

Every month the Van Leeuwen  creators launch four limited-edition flavors: two dairy-based and two vegan varieties. Until early March you can order up a tart yet sweet blood orange creamsicle with blood orange sorbet swirled with sweet cream ice cream, and a gelato-inspired fior di latte chip an Italian favorite made without eggs, a blend of sweet cream with milk chocolate chips. East meets West with the blue jasmine tea ice cream and the vegan variety: yuzu and sake made with rice milk and upcycled Sake Kasu tossed with crumbs of matcha-Kasu shortbread and a dollop of yuzu citrus marmalade.

You can pints in the freezer section of H-E-B, Central Market and Sprouts Farmer’s Market grocery stores or visit Van Leeuwen’s Rice Village shop at 2565 Amherst Street and the Van Leeuwen—Uptown Park at 1151 Uptown Park Boulevard. Van Leeuwen-Montrose is opening in March in the Montrose Collective at 888 Westheimer Road, Suite 157.

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