Cuisine: Ice Creams of the World
1947 Hard Road (Intersection of Hard Road and Smokey Row)
Monday to Sunday 1 pm to 9:30 pm / 10:00pm in summer months.
Closed for a period of time in the winter.
There is an ice creamery in our city that is beloved for having fascinating flavors made from unusual combinations of non traditional ingredients. The owner of this little ice cream shop started scooping her exotic creations in 2000 and quickly grew a loyal following. This is not the story of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. This is the tale of Mita Shah and Mardi Gras ice cream. Mita has always enjoyed cooking and making special Indian dishes for her relatives. She also likes to experiment with flavors. She created a mango ice cream recipe which she gave to the owner of a nearby ice cream store. Mango rapidly became a customer favorite so the owner asked Mita if she wanted to work for him. She told him she would rather purchase the business when he was ready to sell, and was later given the opportunity to buy Mardi Gras. She kept the name while changing the recipes of many of the traditional homemade flavors.
Mita has created a United Nations of ice creams. In addition to the standards, she offers several flavors based on Indian desserts, a few with Asian leanings such as lychee or green tea and several obscure or forgotten regional ice creams including Blue Moon (a very blue, vanilla based ice cream). She has a repertoire of 200 flavors, scooping 48 at any given time including (depending on ingredient availability) at least 16 international flavors.
Mardi Gras has an unlikely location, buried in a strip mall on the Northwest side of Columbus. Over ten years a loyal customer base has developed at a place that is way off the radar. The walls are lined with photographs of happy customers. A cricket team comes in for a traditional round of Sweet Rose milkshakes before matches.
Customers bring her recipes and ideas for her to try out. One customer brought her a recipe for Spumoni that was passed down from her Italian grandmother. Mita is constantly searching for authentic ingredients and dries her own fruits so she can create flavor profiles that meet her high standards. She teaches her employees to take special steps to store and cover the ice cream to preserve freshness and flavor.
Unique flavors such as Kesar Pista (a mix of saffron, almonds, pistachios and cardimum) are balanced out with flavors such as Rum Raisin or Highlander Grogg. Mardi Gras has something for everyone with kid friendly soft serve options, candy toppings, sugar free and fat free options. There is even a flavor with noodles in it, that one is staying a secret until you try it. The staff gladly offer as many samples as one needs to make a decision since there are so many new options to choose from.
Popular flavors include: Mango, Sweet Rose (it really has the aroma of a rose), Ginger (not too intense, but full of flavor), Anjeer (Fig), Guava and Roasted Bananas. Mita’s more exotic flavors combine a balance of subtle and intense tastes while allowing one to taste the true essence of the main ingredient. Tasting notes for the Falooda Kulfi (a combination with Iranian, Pakastani and Indian roots that includes pistachios and rose water) were: “intensely floral, creamy, sweet aroma, like sticking a nose in a flower“. Mardi Gras makes a party of flavors and tastes which allow one to explore the world via an ice cream cone.