Yesterday, Williamsburg welcomed a new ice cream shoppe with the official opening of OddFellows on Kent Avenue. The newest addition to the artisan ice cream scene is headed up by partners Mohan and Holiday Kumar and Chef Sam Mason (wd~50, Lady Jay’s, Empire Mayonnaise) as the ice cream man. On Wednesday, we paid Mohan and Sam a visit as they prepped for their first day of business and chatted about how their ice cream concept came to be and what we can look forward to seeing on the menu.
Up until two years ago Mohan was still working in real estate and living with his pregnant wife (Holiday) on Clinton St. For years he would frequent nearby wd~50 where his friend worked and got to know Sam Mason who was then working as the pastry chef and the two became friends.
During his wife’s pregnancy, Mohan recalls, “She would get these intense savory ice cream craving.” Despite Mohan’s efforts, none of the ice cream flavors and brands he found for her would satisfy the cravings. After lamenting to Sam about his failing quest for the perfect savory ice cream, Sam offered to bring over some of his buzzed-about salty pretzel ice cream that had been on the menu at wd~50. Holiday fell in love. At that point, as Mohan remembers it, “A light bulb went off,” and the couple had a vision of opening a unique ice cream shoppe with an old school ice cream parlor atmosphere. It just so happened that Sam Mason shared this same vision, and the three started building a plan.
After many meetings at Lady Jay’s (a Williamsburg bar where Sam is part owner) and many rounds of drinks, they developed a concept for a real ice cream parlor with spacious tables and chairs for people to hang out and enjoy their ice cream. They wanted something fun and quirky with a sprinkle of Willy Wonka inspiration. During these conversations is when the phrase “OddFellows” popped up and the name resonated with all three of them. Today when you walk into OddFellows the name feels all too appropriate given the fairly bizarre decor consisting of monkeys, Dr. Seuss books, a Jesus painting, and other carnival-esque pieces.
The official opening was yesterday with 12 flavors available, nine ice creams and three sorbets or vegan options. Looking down the road two or three weeks from now, OddFellows will begin offering Sam’s inventive takes on a variety of sundaes and splits that go beyond just hot fudge and bananas. Sam also plans on incorporating their unique house made sodas that include flavors like raisin and hibiscus to create unusual ice cream floats. Another menu offering to look forward to will be Sam’s special “chef’s tasting” of a trio of exclusive ice cream flavors, selected by Sam himself.
Other future plans include getting a liquor license to concoct boozy ice cream treats. And instead of diving into the food truck biz with an OddFellows Ice Cream truck, we were informed that they will be selling their ice cream from a small cart that will pop up in an undisclosed location this summer. (Stay tuned…)
While ice cream fanatics will have to wait a couple more weeks to get their hands on Sam’s exciting floats, splits, and sundaes, the current menu does include Mohan’s personal obsession, the chorizo-caramel, among other crave-able flavors like maple-bacon-walnut and buttermilk-blueberry-honey. And they are all out of this world. Even the “plain” buttermilk ice cream bursts with intense creamy, sweet flavor as it’s made from the absolute freshest dairy they can get their hands on. As Mohan puts it, “The dairy that arrives here at 9:30am was upstate in New York, inside the cow, at 9:30pm the night before.” Yup, that’s fresh, and you can taste the difference.
OddFellows, 175 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11249. Open Sunday – Thursday: 12pm – 10pm, Friday – Saturday: 12pm – 11pm