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.
I had no idea this existed! I will be visiting as soon as possible!
I love this place. Quality product and friendly staff continues to define Columbus as the Ice Cream Capital of the World!
Yes. This will be on my to-try list when I get back in the country.
Thank you for your support of Columbus as Ice Cream Capital of the World. It is a bold proclamation but supported by cold, hard facts. Columbus is also the Taco Truck Capital of the Midwest with (currently) 40 Taco Trucks.
I FREAKING LIVE WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE OF THIS PLACE.
Been wanting to try this out. Maybe I can tempt my folks to make the drive out this way.
Went to this ice creamery a year ago and haven’t been back. Hate to say it but the ice cream I sampled just didn’t match Denise’s or Jeni’s…I’d put it just slightly behind Graeters. They get points for creative flavors, but the must-have flavors seemed way too sugary or salty (salty caramel)
Comparing ice creams (or anything in the world of food) is a tough call since we all have different tastes. I am glad we have so many good choices to choose from. I have favorites at Jeni’s, Denise’s, Mardi Gras and Graeters. I have flavors I do not care for at each place too. I do think there is more to Mardi Gras that just exotic flavors. I think they scoop a good product so I hope you might give them a try again sometime down the road. But happy to have you support any of our local ice creameries with your business.
I will de-lurk to say thanks for the review. My husband and I went to Mardi Gras this evening and have to say your review was spot on! We found the flavors to be interesting and unique, without being pretentious. Can’t wait to go back!
PS – You failed to mention the slush puppy machine. I ❤ slush puppies, too!
Yum! My DH and I checked them out after going out to dinner on Sawmill. The ice cream was fantastic (I got the cashew raisin flavor and DH got rose). The texture was so smooth and creamy that it was almost unbelievable. We will definitely be returning to try some other flavors. Jeni’s is nice for unusual flavors sometimes, and graeter’s for the classics, but this is definitely the new top of our list for the execution and consistency of the ice cream alone.
Been visiting since our neighbors got this ice cream for a party last summer; they had– mango, cashew-raisin, etc. We’ve been back several times. The ice cream is very creamy; love the raw silk, and the Indian flavors. The “regular” flavors are nice too, but the mango is the best! The quality of the product from this one store operation rates up there with Jeni’s. Great find in Columbus!
Pingback: Columbus Alive: Cocktail Contest « lip shmacking around
Pingback: Shownotes – 06/30/12: Ice Cream in Columbus | WCBE FOODCAST
The rose icecream is delicious!!!
I have a a student in my lab right now whom is Indian and she was just telling me I need to go here!