August didn't quite shape up to be the "dog days" we all have come to expect of late summer in Chicago, but that hardly stifles my incessant screams for ice cream. I'm obnoxious about it, regardless of temperature. In particular, there is nothing more scream-worthy than soft-serve. Especially given the forecast, there's something so mercifully balanced and subtle about soft-serve. It's not so blaringly cold and intense as regular ice cream, making it much easier to stomach on a chilly day. Or a warm day. Or any damn day. Not to mention it's so much more fun to add accoutrements to soft-serve, pimping it out with sauces and add-ons. One of the newest contenders to Chicago's soft-serve game is Mercadito Fish, the nautically minded iteration of the esteemed and increasingly popular Mercadito Hospitality brand. The seafood gets a lot of the deserved spotlight here, but make sure and save room for some silken satisfaction at meal's end.
The soft-serve du jour at Mercadito Fish is pistachio soft-serve enrobed in "magic shell" and heaped over creme fraiche cake with a smattering of succulent raspberries. It's actually billed as a sundae, which makes sense given that there's a cake-y surprise lying beneath the tower of pistachio ice cream. Dig your spoon down into the bottom of the tall glass to scoop up some of that tartly-sweet cake immersed in pistachio goodness. The crackly magic shell is a nice, nostalgic touch, lending a delicate crunch of cocoa around the top of the sundae. A few fresh raspberries lend a vivifying splash of fructose, like the cherry atop the sundae if you will. It's definitely a dessert worth screaming for.
- Matt Kirouac