It feels hip to indulge at Moorenko's, the new ice cream cafe on the corner of Arts Alley@Blair Mill in Silver Spring. As you choose from one of the 28 flavors listed in pastel chalk on the back wall, you take in the 13-foot ceilings overhead, bright aqua-green walls, funky oilcloth-covered tables, a quartet of backlit, Warhol-like cow posters and many windows, front and side, to catch the scene outside.
The ice cream warrants an artsy space. Its maker, Susan Soorenko, oversees production of 200 gallons a week of ultra-premium flavors (17 percent-plus butterfat content) and fruit sorbets at the Moorenko's cafe she opened in McLean in 2002. Some of them now are being dispatched to the new space. She learned the craft at Ice Cream University in upstate New York and continues to do so through annual research trips to Florence, Rimini and Bologna, Italy.
"We try to make ice cream that tastes like it's 'alive,' " Soorenko says, her eyes widening slightly behind cool eyewear. "Sugar is not the first thing you taste." Her not-too-sweet pomegranate sorbet and Italian-mocha megajolt are among the standouts that prove her point (scoops, $1.91 to $3.70). She's also proud that Moorenko's ice cream is a truly local enterprise, beginning with a growth-hormone-free dairy mix from Virginia farms. It's even served in waffle cones made by Matt's Supreme, a family business in Waynesboro, Va.
The cafe's neighbors and friends who were on hand for the grand opening last week agreed the development was good for the neighborhood. "This was a vacuum cleaner place before. We like this better," said Silver Spring resident Betty Bolden as she enjoyed a scoop of cotton candy gummy bear that happened to match the opal ring on her hand as well as the cafe walls. "I like the whole atmosphere."
Soorenko hopes that the community also will take advantage of Moorenko's children's singalong sessions on Mondays and Tuesdays, held in a cozy back room that can be used for private parties.
Along with the shakes and floats ($4.21), banana splits and brownie sundaes ($5.75), fruit smoothies ($4) pints and quarts ($5 and $8), Soorenko plans to sell curry lunches, fresh from the Curry Club restaurant on Wisconsin Avenue NW.
One neighbor she can certainly count on for regular patronage is her brother and landlord, Barry Soorenko, who owns a photography studio down the block where Mayorga Coffee Factory, commercial arts businesses and graphic design studios have already settled in: "I expect her to put up a poster saying 'Do Not Feed This Person More Than Three Milkshakes a Week,' " he said.
BEST BETS: Cinnamon and cookie overload ice cream, pomegranate sorbet.
Moorenko's Ice Cream Cafe, 8030-B Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, 301-588-5656. Open Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. An interactive music matinee for children takes place on Mondays from 4 to 5 p.m. and Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to noon.
-- Bonnie S. Benwick