“Who makes the best egg cream?” Apparently not such a simple question anymore. When it comes to folks born after the 1980s, we might have more success asking where their favorite place to vacation on Neptune is; egg creams or even malts are just not part of their food lexicon. Conversely, the token response from a slightly older crowd is, “I haven’t had an egg cream in years.”
It’s become ever-apparent to us at NJ Indy just how much the slow extinction of soda fountains and traditional ice cream parlors has negatively affected certain NJ staple foods. Needless to say, this is a trend we’d like to see reversed. In order to do our part this week, we decided to visit an NJ institution that still carries the torch for these once uber-popular beverages: Holsten’s Brookdale Confectionery in Bloomfield.
“Best [onion rings] in the state as far as I’m concerned… I went ahead and ordered some for the table.” — Tony Soprano
Spoiler Alert: For those of you that haven’t gotten around to watching the final season of The Sopranos (it’s been over a decade, come on!), the series’ final scene actually takes place in Holsten’s. While there’s a lot more research to do before crowning the best onion rings in the state, we’ve got to give a nod to “T” (one of television’s most celebrated characters and portrayed by another NJ legend, the late James Gandolfini) and his infinite wisdom. In addition to an ice cream parlor and sweets-shop, Holsten’s is also a diner serving up classic American fare and, if you’re grabbing lunch or dinner there, an order of onion rings for the table is obligatory. Holsten’s makes great, unassuming food at a reasonable price, but we believe it’s the sweeter side of the menu that will keep you coming back.
An egg cream is essentially comprised of three ingredients—flavored syrup, milk and carbonated water—and taste lighter than a milkshake, almost refreshing. Yet, if you sip on an egg cream at Holsten’s, particularly after you’ve attempted to make one at home, you’d argue that there’s no way the recipe can be that simple. It is. You’ll come to find that egg-creams are a lot like martinis: results are greatly dependent on the agent. The good people at Holsten’s have been perfecting their egg cream for over 75 years so, yeah, you’re going to taste that expertise in a big way. Chocolate is the obvious flavor choice for most, but we recommend trying the strawberry—the bright color and flavor is a welcome contrast to an overcast February day in Jersey.
Even though we are in the middle of the colder months, the ice cream is still a main attraction at Holsten’s. If you’re looking for something a bit heavier than an egg cream, we recommend ordering one of their famous malts. For those unfamiliar, a malt is identical to a milkshake save for one key addition: malted milk powder. While they may look the same, the depth of flavor in a malt is on another level. Chocolate is our recommendation, but Holsten’s offers a wide variety of ice cream flavors to choose from (you can incorporate any into your malt).
The Bloomfield area is full of great food/drink options. Literally right across the street from Holsten’s you’ll find one of the state’s best Italian sandwiches: “The Enzo” from Mastriano’s Meat Market and Deli. We managed a stop at Mastriano’s, Holsten’s and Essex County’s Magnify Brewing all in one day and felt pretty damn spoiled.
Holstens Brookdale Confectionary. 1063 Broad St, Bloomfield. holstens.com