Food Review: Lil’ Dipper

(Photo courtesy of Lil' Dipper)

Located just a few miles away from UCSD, Lil’ Dipper is a convenient stop for all students looking to enjoy a cold treat and a break from studying. If you haven’t heard about it before, it’s quite a popular destination for many students.

Luckily, this writer has a tendency to judge and analyze food past the point of what is probably tolerable. And by probably, I mean definitely in the most unintentionally pretentious way possible. While it might drive my friends crazy, it’ll certainly help in answering this question: is it worth the hype?

First Impressions:

Upon entering Lil’ Dipper, I found myself in a cozy shop with limited indoor seating and bright patches of vivid colours stretching across the room. Most bright and uplifting of all, however, was the upbeat, friendly owner,  who made my Lil’ Dipper experience fun and sweet from the start.

Lil’ Dipper offers a broad selection of whimsically named ice cream flavours, optionally paired with your choice of favorite cookie. While Lil’ Dipper offers individual ice cream scoops and cookies by the dozen, their main attraction is the personalized ice cream sandwich — an offer this writer could not refuse.

After getting the owner’s recommendation, I took a seat outside. Armed with an ultra chocolate ice cream sandwich hugged by a peanut butter and a snickerdoodle cookie, a couple friends’ orders that I could mooch off of, and a scoop of cookies and cream for good measure, I was ready to get to business.

The Cookies:

First and foremost: the cookies. Of the two that the owner had selected, I actually found both to be quite enjoyable. While they weren’t the hot and freshly made cookies I covet, the cookies offered a pleasant surprise as I took my first bite.

The peanut butter cookie was soft, allowing for a nice texture while still holding the sandwich together without falling apart. The cookie itself offered a exceptional synergy of flavors—the creamy, nutty and earthy tones of peanut butter contrasted with a mild sweetness, all encompassed in a pleasantly soft and chewy texture.

The snickerdoodle, on the other hand, provided a more simple yet elegant cast of flavours. With a much firmer and crisper composition, the snickerdoodle smears the tongue with a blend of sugar and cinnamon.

Though both offered surprisingly pleasant experiences on their own, the differing textures on either side of the sandwich created an odd juxtaposition in the creamy snack, so perhaps settle for just one of these treats when crafting your dessert.

The Ice Cream:

With a palatable tasting of cookies behind me,  I honed in on the creamy encapsulated dessert.

While I want to say that the owner’s choice, Ultra Chocolate, was as great and welcoming as her friendly personality, I can only describe Ultra Chocolate as ultra plain.

Right away, it blankets the tongue with a sharp, chocolate flavoured torrent of bittersweet plainness. Some may enjoy simple and bold flavours, but I found it to be a touch overwhelming, an artificial taste of chocolate lacking a proper rich and creamy foundation to build upon and missing any kind of contrast to cut through the sharp astringency.

Similarly, I found Cookies ‘N Cream to fall into the same boat— I found it slightly plain, a tad too sweet, and lacking substantial cookie bits, all without a nice richness to anchor it down.

Seeking solace from the onslaught of Ultra Chocolate’s ultra disappointment, I partook in a sampling, (or mooching, whichever you prefer), of Huckleberry Heaven. Despite lacking the same creamy richness I was seeking in the last flavour, Huckleberry Heaven offers a nice cocktail of a gliding transition from a zippy tartness to a smooth sour, and finally to pleasant fruity sweetness. Overall, this flavour does well to create a nice palatable experience while not overpowering the subtle profile of the ice cream itself.

Conclusions:

At the end of the day, my sweet tooth was more than satisfied and I had really enjoyed Lil’ Dipper’s aesthetic along with the owner’s welcoming demeanor and fun personality. Though the cookies were quite enjoyable, I found their selection of ice cream flavors to be hit or miss — while I wouldn’t call anything particularly bad, I found some flavors disappointingly average.

Overall, Lil’ Dipper is a great place to stop for some lively conversation and sugary pick-me-up after finals, but if you’re seeking high quality ice cream then perhaps you’re better off somewhere else.

Truman Tse is a staff writer for The Conch.