We love the entire city of Little Rock, but the SoMa neighborhood south of I-630 is one of our favorite parts. The folks that live and work on this stretch of Main Street are committed to urban renewal and the creation of a livable, viable neighborhood where people can walk or bike to any number of shops and restaurants. When it comes to promoting quality, sustainable living, there aren’t many places in Arkansas that work for it like the people in SoMa, and one of the centers of this effort is the Green Corner Store at 1423 D Main Street. The store has just announced a partnership with Loblolly Creamery to open an old-fashioned soda fountain on April 7, but we were lucky enough to get a sneak peek at a soft opening held at the store – and we’re here to share all the delicious details.
I’m of a generation that only knows of soda fountains from old movies and the kitschy recreations that are more like stage sets than places with any real atmosphere. The Green Corner Store’s soda fountain doesn’t try to go for any of the surface throwback stuff – you won’t find folks dressed up like 50s waitresses or clocks in the shape of old cars on the wall. What you will find, though, is perhaps the most wonderfully retro thing of all – quality homemade syrups, ice creams, and toppings that can be mixed and matched into countless sodas, floats, and sundaes. There’s a flavor of locally-made ice cream here to please any taste, and with a hot Arkansas summer just right around the corner, I can’t think of a better place to take a load off and have something cold and refreshing made right while you wait.
The ice creams we tried were all wonderful, creamy and distinctive. My favorite of the day was the Honeycomb Goat’s Milk, an iced milk that had a taste and consistency that reminded me of the snow ice cream my mom used to make when I was a kid. We also enjoyed the Buttermilk, a sweet and creamy concoction reminiscent of cheese cake. For chocolate fans, the Cherry Chocolate Custard was smooth and bittersweet with huge chunks of chocolate and homemade maraschino cherries throughout. Sherbet lovers are in luck as well – the Loblolly Orange Sherbet tasted like the best creamsicle I’ve ever had. There are several toppings to choose from as well, and I was especially fond of the moist, chewy brownie bites. In addition to scooped ice cream, there are also ice cream sandwiches available, and although I didn’t get to sample any, they looked amazing.
We tried several different sodas, too, and while the ice cream is going to be awesome for an occasional treat, I see myself stopping by for a soda any time I’m in the neighborhood – they’re that good, and the syrups are all handmade. We started off with a Honey-Ginger soda, which was everything I’ve always wanted ginger ale to be: sweet, crisp, and with just enough of a true ginger bite to tickle the tongue and warm the stomach. The cola flavor tasted like a typical cola, but with a spiciness and complexity of flavor that put it above anything poured from a bottle. I ordered an Egg Cream because I’d always heard of them and had never had one, and the splash of vanilla and orange that was added gave the creamy concoction a sweet, rich flavor. Other flavors available are grape, cherry, lemon-lime, sweet tea, mango, and lemon balm mint – and each of the soda syrups are available as an addition to an ice cream float or as an ice cream topping.
We had an amazing time with everyone today at the Green Corner Store, and I was very excited to come home today and write this post to share the place with all of you. The soda fountain will officially open on April 7th, and they’re doing a Grand Opening promotion of two mini-cones per customer all day Saturday, although I seriously doubt that anyone will be able to stop with such a small taste. I know a lot of people were saddened when Yarnell’s closed last year – but we’ve got quality ice cream being made in Little Rock by Loblolly Creamery. I hope you’ll all stop by next week and have a soda or a float and enjoy the spirit of the neighborhood – and maybe take some ice cream home to enjoy later. Sweet treats have a way of bringing out the kid in everybody, and the Green Country Store Soda Fountain is the perfect place to indulge yourself. Enjoy!
UPDATE 11/15/2012: Rachel and Sally of Loblolly Creamery have continued their excellence in ice cream, sodas, and yummy treats. Stop in weekly for new flavors, specials, and pints to take home. This has become a Little Rock institution and one of my favorite places in town.
Green Country Store is located at 1423 Main Street, Suite D. The hours of operation are 11-7 Monday-Friday and 10-7 on Saturday. You can find them on Facebook here, and be sure to check out Loblolly Creamery on Facebook here.