Cincinnati has an almost gratuitous amount of gourmet ice cream and gelato options in which to indulge: Graeter’s, Aglamesis Bro's, Dojo Gelato. But one of them really takes the cake (or the cream): Hello Honey.
Husband-and-wife team Nitima and Brian Nicely have been serving their homemade, small-batch desserts on Vine Street downtown since 2012. And, great news for fans of excellent ice cream, the duo has just opened a new storefront in East Walnut Hills.
"We had been thinking about a second location for a long time but having trouble finding the right neighborhood that was a good fit for us, would reach new customers and was in need of some local ice cream," Brian tells CityBeat. "The good people from East Walnut Hills actually approached us a couple of times about this space that was being developed and eventually we took a look at it and gave the neighborhood a little walk around and we really liked the community of small businesses that is growing there and felt like it was the right spot."
The doors are now open to Hello Honey at 1530 Madison Road, located near Cafe Mochiko and Branch. While this space is a bit smaller than their downtown spot, Brian says they still offer indoor seating and, obviously, their same delicious ice cream, made with fresh ingredients and free from artificial flavors and coloring.
"The big difference is that we are heavily featuring our cakes and bakery items that you would not have found at our previous location," he says.
That includes a rotating selection of roll cakes, cheesecakes, brownies and cookies with fun flavor profiles. Think chocolate peanut butter and jelly roll cake or ube (sweet purple yam) cheesecake.
Those same creative flavor combos are what sets Hello Honey's ice cream apart from the rest of the pack.
"We are always playing with the flavors and having fun with them," Brian says.
Current ice cream options — which can change seasonally and week-to-week — include banana honeycomb, brown butter caramel, chocolate rootbeer, espresso chocolate chip and Thai iced tea. There are also vegan flavors, like cookies and cream (made with coconut milk) and mixed berry sorbet.
While neither Brian or Nitima went to culinary school — they started Hello Honey "armed with little more than a countertop ice cream maker and sheer determination," Brian says — Nitima is the driving force behind their stand-out offerings.
"She is so creative and fearless in everything she does," Brian says. "All of these recipes are her own and she is always fine-tuning them and helping them evolve."
If you've never paid a visit to Hello Honey before, it's imperative you top your ice cream with one of their homemade, vegetarian marshmallows (yes, standard marshmallows are made with gelatin and therefore not vegetarian-friendly). They're "torched to order," as Brian says, directly on top of your dessert. They also make their own ice cream cones.
And the only place to get them right now is at the East Walnut Hills shop. Hello Honey is currently relocating their original downtown storefront to 725 Race St.
"It was a hard decision because Vine Street was our first home and there are lots of memories there, but the new space and opportunity came along at the right time," Brian says. "The new Race Street location has more space to allow for an expanded Hello Honey concept, including a large amount of outdoor seating — which we all learned over the last couple years — is incredibly important."
He says they are working to get that open as quickly as possible.
What's next for Hello Honey? Brian says maybe another outpost, but for now, they're happy with their new neighborhood.
"The real attention is always on the product and the customers," he says. "We want to be sure that you can get the same ice cream experience across both locations but that you can also find something unique and rewarding at each one."
Hello Honey is now open at 1530 Madison Road, East Walnut Hills. Get more info or order online at hellohoneyicecream.com.
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