There were a few key priorities for David Lindsey and his wife, Everett Councilor Gerly Adrien, when they took over Somerville’s Tipping Cow Ice Cream in 2018.
They promised to be all-natural, nut- and allergen-free, create a welcoming place for people to visit, and – as the cherry on top of that creation – to win the Best of Boston award for ice cream.
This month, they checked off the top of the list with Boston Magazine naming the shop the best ice cream in Boston – a major feather in the cap for the business that Lindsey and Adrien have been steadily growing for the last three summers.
“In 2018, we said we wanted to get that Best of Boston designation, but knew it would take a lot of work,” said Lindsey last Friday, amidst mixing up a new batch of ice cream at his shop. “I said if we do things right and stay consistent, good things will come. We’ve creating a welcoming environment and treat people that come in with care and respect. We feel like we sell pints of love and happiness. That’s what’s important – giving people a good quality product made from scratch.”
Lindsey had never really been in the ice cream business before, but he said he knew he wanted to own his own business. He was familiar with making home-made ice cream with his family growing up in Missouri, and he also had a lot of first-hand experience with culinary principles from working in fine dining. However, running an ice cream shop was new territory.
“I used to make ice cream with my grandparents used the old-style churns,” he said. “You earned that ice cream. In college I worked with pastry chefs and they showed me things. Coupled with that was the experience in my own family and my own creativity and experimentation.”
They kept the name of the show, Tipping Cow on Medford Street in Somerville, when they purchased it, but Lindsey said they were quite clear from day one they were taking it to a higher level. Starting with 12 core flavors, they experimented, researched and brainstormed until they have a huge variety of different tastes and gourmet offerings.
“We’ve created over 100 different flavors that we rotate in and out,” he said. “We even have things like roasted honey fig, and I’m working now on a fig and goat cheese flavor. We make all our ice cream without the ego…Part of making ice cream is instinctive, but part of it is other aspects of understanding culinary arts and how foods work together…We say we’re trying to bring a piece of gourmet down to Earth in a fun and friendly environment.”
One of the more interesting flavors he came up with is Vanilla Plum Cardinal.
“We’ve only made it four times ever,” said Lindsey. “That’s because we have to find the right plums.”
Though he has nine different chocolate ice creams, Lindsey said he really never liked any kind of chocolate ice cream until he experimented with a Triple Chocolate. Now, out of all the choices on hand, he said that has become his favorite flavor.
For the shop, which has now been open in phases over the last two months after the COVID-19 lockdowns, the most popular summer flavors have been Sweet Corn, Teddie Berry Cherry and Key Lime Pie.
And they do it all in a way that’s safe for people who have allergies, or who require dairy-free offerings (they have 30 dairy-free flavors).
Right now, they are also expanding their pint sales in gourmet shopping markets, and they have recently won the ability to feature their ice cream at Earl of Sandwich on the Boston Common – getting rave reviews so far.
Yet, at the same time, all of the fun listed above cannot be a success unless there is consistency, said Lindsey. It’s something Tipping Cow has achieved with many hours of work – sometimes as many as 80 to 90 hours put into the business in a week.
“The biggest thing with any business, especially food and food service, is consistency – providing a product that consistently tastes the same,” he said. “That requires a lot of care and attention to detail…We’ve been consistent since we first opened. We’ve continued to build on it.”
For Lindsey, despite the long hours and constant brainstorming about creative ideas, it is rewarding and worth it – something that was shown in the Best of Boston designation.
“It’s fun and it’s rewarding,” he said. “You get an opportunity to do something that people love and really like. Being able to make people happy is cool. I don’t miss putting on a shirt and tie and running to the Orange Line from Everett to fight to get downtown. It was chaotic, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. However, it’s a whole different thing being able to come in and create something people love.”
Tipping Cow is located at 415 Medford St. in Somerville, and Lindsey said they frequently find folks from Everett making their way over to the shop.