Bruster’s Real Ice Cream
- Kat Robinson
- OVERSIZED: Bruster's Banana Split is more than a mouthful
offers dozens of different flavors of ice cream, sorbet and sherbet… but when it comes to dinner, it’s all about the dogs.
These aren’t Chicago dogs, which I have been covering for about the past month, ever since I came back from Chicago. No, the dogs at Bruster’s are Nathan’s, which means they’re New York dogs. That’s not a bad thing.
Dogs come in singles or pairs in combo meals and without at Bruster’s. For the purposes of research, we divided up the offerings on our visit. The hubster got a chili dog; I chose one with slaw and cheese and the girl child had hers au natural.
Just about everything in our order came out in one of those signature yellow Nathan’s hot dog boxes — everything except the sole naked order of fries that came with the hubster’s order. They were more chunk than strip, crinkly and dark colored, but tasty enough. The girl child instantly recognized that they needed to be consumed.
The beans on the hubster’s chili dog and on my chili cheese fries was of the beany variety — about two parts bean to one part beef. It’s a chili powder chili, similar to Armour from a can but with a distinctive flavor that marks it as a proprietary Bruster’s creation. Cheese is American-Cheddar blend.
The coleslaw on my dog was sweet, not quite as sweet as KFC but sweeter than the average Arkansas barbecue joint. The star, of course, is the Nathan’s dog — a caseless beef frank with a very recognizable flavor. Bruster’s gives them just enough time on the roaster to make them both hot and crispy, not rubbery like microwaved dogs and with a nice roasted flavor you can’t get with a boiled dog.
The prices were a little higher than I expected, though — $5.79 for a chili cheese dog combo with no extras and $6.49 for a double dog combo. Where Bruster’s really gets you is on the toppings — everything from cheese and chili to slaw and sauerkraut is an add-on for 60 cents more, whether it’s on the dog or the burger.
Of course, the main reason we ended up at Bruster’s was not for the dogs, but for the ice cream. I’d been hearing a whole lot about it, so I had to give it a check out.
The hubster gave a simple waffle cone a spin — filled with one scoop of Cookie Dough with Toll House Cookie Bits ice cream. The ice cream was decently rich with the signature Toll House flavor. The amount of ice cream was startling, though — nearly half a pint of ice cream was packed into the waffle cone. For $3.69, it came out about right.
The girl child and I, though, went for a banana split ($4.89). We probably would have skipped the nuts had we realized it was an extra 50 cents — they were nice for consistency but not really necessary. The big reason for that is the sheer volume of the banana split. Rather than going for a traditional tray-style banana split, Bruster’s serves their banana sliced up — over a base that includes three full-size scoops of ice cream with accompanying appropriate sauces: hot fudge on top of chocolate ice cream, strawberries on top of strawberry ice cream and pineapple over vanilla. On top — a big pile of whipped cream, a cherry and a pretzel stick.
If anything, the banana split is too large. It would have been incomprehensible to tackle it by myself, but I figured my daughter the ice cream monster would have knocked half of it out by herself. She made it through the bananas, dug seriously on the strawberries and gave me an odd look with the hot fudge (hot and ice cream? Infathomable!). And then she wanted to play with the other kids in the restaurant, leaving me with an impossible amount of ice cream to consume. Sadly, a good deal of that ice cream went to waste. Seems the addition of that hot fudge sauce speeds up the melting process.
Is it good ice cream? Well, yeah. It’s awfully good. It took me a long time to settle on the banana split — and the main reason was my lack of decision between Chocolate with Hershey’s Special Dark Pieces, Coffee Oreo, Caramel Crackle (with Butterfinger pieces) and Black Raspberry Chocolate Chunk. If they’d had Black Cherry or Pistachio in I probably would have done that instead and picked up a Dirt Sundae (vanilla ice cream with Oreo crumbles and Gummi worms) for Hunter.
And the dogs are good. And the fries are good. Frankly, it’s a good chain operation, and I’ll probably go over there again at some point… when I’m not feeling guilty about basically eating ice cream for lunch. Because with the size of Bruster’s portions, I think from now on I’ll either get dogs there or ice cream there, not both. And that likely means it’ll be an ice cream trip.
You’ll find Bruster’s Real Ice Cream in the same shopping center as Thirst ‘N’ Howl and Blue Cake Company on Highway 10, right before you get out to Taylor Loop. It’s open every day from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (501) 868-9522. There’s also a location on Alexander Drive in Jonesboro. Go check out the website for more information.