Talk about a happy meal!
Bubby’s High Line, a restaurant beloved for its dedication to the classic American table menu launched its first-ever classic American old-fashioned soda fountain treats -- and to celebrate the occasion was giving away free sodas, ice cream sodas and small sundaes to a loyal, adoring public for four hours yesterday. Despite the rain and unseasonable cold, there were more than 75 hearty, American fans in line, waiting for the special promotion.
Why the sweet-treat, loyal love?
The answer surely lies in the heritage and lore surrounding Bubby’s.
Besides naming his restaurants after his grandmother: Bubby, chef and author of Bubby’s Homemade Pies and Bubby’s Brunch Cookbook, Ron Silver is dedicated to making everything from scratch.
He readily and cheekily admits to stealing recipes from grandmothers and uncles – (gotta' love the gender-free bias) – and in an interview, Chef Ron said he prefers using local ingredients sourced from growers he’s developed a relationship with – usually the “small guys.”
For example, he said he gets his eggs from Brey's Egg Farm in Sullivan County, NY; the milk comes from the Hudson Valley Cooperative, and the coffee soda is made with Intelligentsia coffee.
In what seems like a win-win and true sustainability, Chef Ron described how he is able to purchase a growers “seconds” – the bruised fruits that aren’t pretty enough for the markets – but fresh, locally grown ingredients that he can use in mixing and crushing for the syrups and sodas. “We buy in-season and freeze the ingredients for the off-season’s use,” he explained.
All together, Bubby’s fresh-from-the-farm ingredients features 17 irresistible syrups such as raspberry and ginger, 15 incredible toppings with wowsy tastes, including candied citrus peel, gingersnap crumbs, and toasted marshmallow, along with six different, traditional homemade ice creams made with ingredients from local Hudson Valley Cooperative milk, cream, and Breyer’s eggs, in flavors like vanilla, chocolate, espresso, rocky road, strawberry, and mint chocolate chip.
And in a true New York tradition, customers can have their soda fountains treats made just as crooner, Frank Sinatra sang, “I did it my way…”
Guests: aka customers, are encouraged to make their own treat, or try one of the old-time, ready-to-order classics from the menu.
Bubby’s Soda Fountain menu highlights of indulgent sundaes include: (and each is topped with fresh whipped cream and a cherry.)
- S’more Sundae, with Rocky Road ice cream, graham cracker, and marshmallows
- Berry My Heart Sundae, with Strawberry ice cream, raspberry and blackberry syrup, crushed raspberries and blackberries, topped with gingersnap crumbs
- Fred and Ginger Sundae, with Vanilla and Chocolate ice cream, caramel, chocolate, and cherry syrup with gingersnap crumbs
- Virginia Chocolate Sundae, with Vanilla ice cream, peanut butter, chocolate syrup, and crushed peanuts
- Elvis Banana Split, with Vanilla ice cream, peanut syrup, banana syrup, a split banana coated in caramel, and chocolate cookie crumb;
- The Canadian, with Vanilla ice cream, maple walnuts, toasted salted walnuts, and maple syrup.
Chef Ron said he never drank liquor and so turned his talents to something he did love and missed: old fashioned soda fountain treats. “I'm a purist,” he stated.
With nearly 20 sodas on his menu, this Examiner asked what his favorite one is, and he didn’t hesitate to name the Currant Sour Soda, made from unfiltered apple cider vinegar and currants.
According to Bubby’s, “Carbonated beverages originally came to the U.S. from Europe in the early 1700s.
While Americans embraced the promised health benefits of “mineral water,” they also added syrups and toppings.
By 1925, the “golden age of soda fountains,” there were nearly 100,000 soda fountains across the U.S. The growth was likely fueled by prohibition when the local soda fountain - present in places of business from pharmacies and candy stores to bowling alleys, luncheonettes, and hardware stores – served as an alternative to closed-down local pubs.
However, around the 1950s, bottled carbonated beverages grew in popularity and the soda fountain’s proliferation began to subside.”
When asked about the tradition of regional sodas made with local ingredients, Chef Ron debunked this bit of food history, saying in spite of some well-known signature sodas such as Moxie (Boston), Dr. Pepper (Texas) or Vernors (Detroit), there was always the presence of national carbonated sodas: Coca Cola and Pepsi.
Bubby’s High Line is a perfect stop while strolling the beauty of the High Line park. There is also a take-out area/coffee bar/sweet shop, that offers items ranging from fun desserts like homemade candy bars to breakfast treats, such as scones, muffins, cinnamon rolls, and homemade pop tarts, and lunch options like sandwiches, seasonal salads, and soups.
Bubby’s sweet shop offers a selection of the restaurant’s famous pies to-go, including Local Apple, Michigan Sour Cherry, Florida Key Lime, Organic Peanut Butter Chocolate, and Banoffee, as well as upcoming seasonal favorites like Strawberry R.
While all Bubby’s restaurants offer affordable, seasonal, savory menus for lunch, dinner and midnight brunch – the High Line restaurant is the first to offer the old-fashioned soda fountain menu.
Chef/Owner Ron Silver said he was inspired to create the soda fountain after reading a 1920s-era book put out by the editors of Soda Fountain Magazine.
“The fountain concept falls in line with Bubby's mission to restore the great aspects of the classic American table,” which means sourcing ingredients from local and sustainable growers and artisanal food makers.
More homegrown love: check out this mission posted on Bubby’s menus to help tell a happy, food narrative that nevertheless, take a lot of work.
Every foodie wants to know the backstory about where their food and ingredients come from and this is a food tale is worth sharing: (Bold is this Examiner’s)
We feel ever more strongly about defending the American table. This has become our mission. Here are some of the things we do: We buy whole steers from upstate farmers who raise their animals in pastures. We grind our own burgers everyday. We make buns. And dill pickles. We buy whole hogs for sausages, scrapple, pork chops and bacon. 600 pounds of bacon a week.
We know the people who harvest our salt, by hand. They know the people who pick our pepper, and they have been picking pepper for over 5,000 years. We get olive oil from our friends at Frankie’s in Brooklyn who bring it to Brooklyn from their friends in Italy. We fry in organic, non-GMO, expeller pressed canola oil.
All of our soda pop is made in house, to order. We use cane sugar for our fresh pressed sodas. We make organic cold pressed juice everyday.
We buy fine heirloom grains that are ground for us to order from Anson Mills. We work with dozens of local farms for our produce.
We buy grass fed milk from Hudson Valley Fresh Cooperative that we use for everything, from your coffee to the ice cream.
We make our own ice cream.
The coffee we use is from the finest roasters in the USA.
We buy fish from a small local fisherman, Blue Moon, who catches it and brings it to us the very next day. We smoke organic salmon.
We pit smoke barbecue from small farm-raised heritage hogs. We smoke the barbecue with cherry wood from our farm upstate.
We render lard from whole hogs we get in every week for pies, pastries and biscuits. We bake all of our own bread in house using organic heirloom grain flour from Wild Hives Farm. We buy organic maple syrup from Doerfler’s little farm near the Vermont border. We get our honey from the life-long bee keepers at Tremblay Apiaries in the Finger Lakes.
We make jam from local fruit.
We squeeze all the juices we serve, including cranberry, pineapple, pomegranate, and blood orange.
We make all kinds of pickles. Sauerkraut, too.
The sourdough we use for pancakes is from a family in Klondike that has kept it alive since 1890
With dedication to fresh, artisanal and homegrown, local ingredients, it’s a treasure to experience Bubby’s. Chef Ron’s grandmother is sure to be proud.
Bubby’s High Line: 71 Gansevoort Street, New York, NY 10014, 212-206-6200
Hours: 8:00 am to 1:00 am