Sometimes you just stumble onto good ice cream. In a place you’ve never even heard of. You see people licking drippy ice cream cones, and you’re hot, and you ask . . . Hey, where’d you get that?
And that’s how I found Razzleberry’s Cafe & Market in Oak Ridge on the day of the Lavender Festival in Jackson Square. As I passed by a booth selling cornshuck dolls, I saw a couple sitting on a bench feeding some ice cream to a child in a stroller. It was only 10:30 in the morning! And then I saw another couple walking around with big waffle cones spilling over with more ice cream. And then some kids. And well, you get the picture. I figured if all these people were eating ice cream BEFORE lunch, I’d better check out the source. After all, it was getting pretty hot, and I just might need a cool treat, too!
One friendly shopper said, Just follow the square around — it’s on the corner. You can’t miss it. He was right.
When I arrived at the big sign overhead, I saw where the owner himself, Waldek Kaczocha, had set up tables with breakfast foods, coffee, and the makin’s for lunch!
His wife Ilona saw me taking pictures, so she came out to talk. So nice. So chatty. We’re originally from Poland, but we’ve been in this location about six years, selling ice cream. We sell a lot more stuff, too. I peeped inside. Sure ‘nough. It’s a full-fledged, full-service restaurant selling sandwiches, plates of food, and cold, creamy desserts!
Ilona then whispered to me, Our best seller is Polish kielbasa. You should come for lunch! I told her I was on an ice cream mission, and she pointed with pride at the flavor of the day: Lavender!
I meandered through the restaurant staring at pigs — hundreds of pigs! Cartoon pigs, stuffed pigs, plastic and chalk and moveable-parts pigs! The signature mascot of Razzleberry’s, I guess.
About 20 flavors of fresh cream ice cream stood ready in a case to my left. One very nice server added, We make it with 14 percent fresh cream! Make the waffle cones, too!
One man was just leaving with his giant cone, looking quite pleased with his mid-morning snack! Just plain ol’ vanilla. I’m not very adventurous, I guess, he told me.
But I had to try Lavender ice cream. After all, how often do you get this treat, if ever? So I tried a free sample. I must say it’s a more pleasing taste than I anticipated — a little herby, I suppose, but also kind of citrusy in a way. It’s mild, not overpowering. It blends well.
I wanted a whole scoop until I spotted what makes my Wordsworthian heart “leap up”: Death by Chocolate ice cream. If there’s one thing I can hardly resist, it’s deep, dark, almost bitter chocolate, and combined with 14% fresh cream — OMG!
So, there I was at 11:00 AM. In one hand, a bundle of freshly harvested lavender purchased from the Farmers Market. In another — a cone of Death by Chocolate ice cream from Razzleberry’s Cafe & Market!
You’ve no doubt seen this saying on a plaque in a craft booth somewhere: Life is short. Eat dessert first. And I agree. Eating Razzleberry’s ice cream mid-morning is not a bad way to ease into the rest of the day!
I’m not saying Razzleberry’s is the absolute bestest anywhere, but for good quality, fresh ice cream, especially if you’re in the Oak Ridge area, you owe it to yourself to try Razzleberry’s. It’s a great place to cool off, and you might even want to have lunch first!
What’s to Like: Razzleberry’s Cafe & Market
- All the websites that rate restaurants call it Razzleberry’s Ice Cream Lab, so I guess it has two identities. Works for me. Check out Urbanspoon. Or Yelp.
- Not far from Knoxville — and the drive is easy!
- Great variety of food — some Southern, some Cajun, some Polish. You may want to see what the Knoxville News Sentinel’s Grub Scout wrote when he dined there October, 2011! Click here!
- Pleasant servers who aim to please
- Pigs, pigs, and more pigs
- Rich, creamy ice cream in homemade cones (or cups or sundaes or shakes)!
- Lots of flavors that change daily
- Friendly owners who make you feel special no matter what you order!
Razzleberry’s Cafe & Market
201 Jackson Square
Oak Ridge, TN 37830
If you want to read my three other reviews of where to find the coolest treats to beat the heat, click on any of the ones below:
Cool Off 2012: Coolato Gelato
Leave me a comment — about any of the Cool Off places or your favorite! Would love to hear from you!