Restaurant Review: Ice House

“The Davidsonian”: Grilled chicken, slaw, cauliflower, kale, pimento cheese and apricot. Photos by Michael Hall ‘19

Michael Hall ‘19

Food correspondent

Though not seated along Davidson’s iconic central strip, Davidson Ice House brings a similar sense of casual comfort to the tail-end of Main Street. The wooden porch is adorned with windowsill flowers, and overhead fans make Davidson’s elongated summers bearable. As my friend and I entered, we were both stricken by the skeletal interior: exposed brick and metal fixtures lead customers to connect the restaurant with its historic past as an ice making plant. Frank Sinatra sang quietly in the background and seemed oddly fitting for the ambitious task of ordering.

Davidson Ice House is a casual, build-your-own-bowl eatery. Nine “Chef’s Creations” are available—as well as the possibility to make your own—and are to be paired with greens, grains, or rice.

For my first time at Ice House, it seemed only appropriate to order the Davidsonian: Grilled chicken thighs, grilled slaw, maple glazed sweet potatoes, lemon cauliflower, kale slaw, sassy pimento cheese, and tangy apricot. With such a wide spread of toppings, I opted for a base of grains—white rice and brown lentils—as a fluffy canvas.

My friend and I took our seats outside and were pleasantly surprised to find our bowls in front of us in a matter of minutes. We grabbed our biodegradable silverware, placed in front of a neglected display case of baked goods, and dug in.       

I understand the bowl is a “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” scenario; but I figured it was best to try each element by itself first. Visually potent, the yellowness of the cauliflower was not unfounded: its strong flavor of lemon added a tingle-inducing acid. I expected the maple glazed sweet potatoes to be roasted and bear the color of rust symbolic of caramelization. Instead, they were steamed and simply blanketed by a maple glaze that bore as much grain mustard as maple. Nevertheless, they retained a firm bite only rivaled in the bowl by the cauliflower. Although both slaws—grilled and kale—added texture, the crevices of the kale allowed it to better grip its dressing. The grilled chicken thighs were succulent, but the “sassiness” of the pimento cheese was lost in a sea of mayonnaise that would’ve disappointed my neighbors in Georgia.

I proceeded to fold the ingredients into the base of rice and lentils and assemble a bite incorporating all the parts I could fit onto one fork load. Most notable is the diversity of textures and temperatures. Cruciferous cauliflower places nicely with the tender pieces of chicken, and the cold slaws balanced out the warm sweet potatoes.

Less pleasant: the pimento cheese had enough mayonnaise for three portions and, astonishingly, the grains were terribly undercooked. The rice was dyed brown, making me think it was cooked together with the lentils despite their different cook times, consequently explaining the rice’s firmness. Seeing as this was the base of the dish, I was surprised by such a mistake; but my friend’s white rice was the aerated base I had desired, so I’ll take my case as a fluke.

Michael Hall ‘19 is an Economics and Latin American Studies double major from Savannah, GA. He can be reached for comment at mihall@davidson.edu.

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