So far, this winter has dealt us quite an interesting hand when it comes to weather. We’ve seen snow, hail, atmospheric rivers of rain, gusts of wind and, yes, even the rare sunny day. Through it all, every Saturday Bonnie Plottner has been huddled under a tent in Woodinville, selling pints of ice cream.
“It’s been terrible weather,” she says with a laugh.
Plottner is just months away from opening her first brick-and-mortar ice cream shop, Swanky Scoop in the (decidedly swanky) Woodin Creek Village, but her tent has been popping up in the courtyard there, just a few feet away from her new storefront, to sell dairy and nondairy pints — three flavors weekly — since November.
Once a software developer at Microsoft, Plottner has been making ice cream at home for nearly two decades. In 2014, she started seriously thinking about opening an ice cream store, chasing after those satisfying smiles everyone has when they’re eating ice cream.
In an effort to find out if she would enjoy turning a hobby into a full-time job, she spent the summer of 2016 making ice cream every day and discovered that even when she stayed up late finishing a batch, she was still excited to make another one the following morning. She took a course at the University of Wisconsin, delving deep into everything from vanilla varietal testing and batch freezer trials to scoop size regulation and optimal store layouts. By 2019, she was looking for storefronts, but after the pandemic hit in early 2020, she pressed pause for a while before finally signing a lease at the Woodin Creek Village site in May 2021.
The shop is scheduled to open in mid-March with 20 rotating flavors. Plottner thinks of her flavors as “favorites, not fallbacks.”
“There are some ice cream shops where you settle for a flavor. My goal is to have flavors that sound exciting and taste exciting,” she says.
There should be something for everyone — dairy and nondairy, gluten-free and nut-free. She likes to push the envelope a little, too, crafting spicy, savory or even vegetable flavors. Of course, she’ll also have chocolate and vanilla (right now she’s putting the finishing touches on her signature vanilla, one with a blend of Madagascar, Mexican and Tahitian vanillas).
I picked up pints of dessert-inspired flavors ($7/each); a black forest cake ice cream studded with cherries and crumbles of chocolate cake; a tiramisu ice cream featuring a mocha ripple and crumbles of coffee-syrup-soaked lady fingers in a mascarpone and Marsala base; and a vegan rice pudding nondairy flavor with coconut milk, Arborio rice and raisins.
Of the three, the black forest cake was my favorite, its silken texture and deep vanilla base enlivened with chocolate cake and frozen cherries that were fabulously chilled without being icy or frozen solid. The coffee-tinged tiramisu was also lovely, the dairy fat content high enough to quickly coat the roof of your mouth but not so much where it felt over-the-top rich. They feel swanky indeed.
Plottner says the name Swanky Scoop is meant to be “fun and sophisticated” — a place you can love if you’re a foodie, but also if you’ve got kids who might not be into something like miso caramel ice cream. For now, catch her bringing the swank at Woodin Creek Village Saturdays from 1 p.m. until she sells out, and keep an eye on her Instagram for shop opening dates.
Swanky Scoop, 17255 135th Ave. N.E., Woodinville; swankyscoop.com
Across the street from Swanky Scoop is Lifted Taco, where the menu is wide-ranging and includes breakfast options. In place of ingredients like carnitas or carne asada, you’ll see tacos stuffed with barbecue bacon meatloaf, wine-braised short rib, Southwest spiced falafel and citrus-glazed beets. There are vegan options, soups and kids options (like a cheeseburger taco). The tortillas — corn and flour — are made in-house and are a generous 6 inches.
The shop opened in Woodin Creek Village in late December and serves up nontraditional tacos from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. In size, these are like a street taco on steroids and they can go toe-to-toe with some of the best tacos I’ve had when it comes to flavor. The Ribeye ($6.50) is topped with seared slices of tender rib-eye, a crisp slab of fried cheese and a smear of refried black beans. The High Cheese ($4.75) has a log of fried panela cheese, avocado purée and red slaw. Both hit on a wonderful mix of textures in every bite.
There are weekly specials like the Argentine Dream ($6.50), topped with smoked brisket, chimichurri and a hefty sprinkle of Fresno chile, and seasonal dips like guacamole with roasted sweet potato and dried cranberries.
Whatever you order, make room in your stomach (and heart) for the loaded queso ($5.5/personal, $14/shareable), topped with a choice of short rib, chicken or vegetables with a side of chips fried in-house. I topped my order with short rib, which came in a substantial tangle and I cannot oversell how good this was.
Deeply cheesy and chock full of tender short rib, this gooey dip has me checking my schedule to see how fast I can make it back to Woodinville. Also on my list would be the Wine Drunk Short Rib taco with caramelized onions and the vegan Seared Tofu, served on a hibiscus corn tortilla. Bottom line, between ice cream and tacos, there’s plenty to explore at Woodin Creek Village.
9 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday; 17255 135th Ave. N.E., Suite 1040, Woodinville; 425-419-4322; liftedtaco.com