A nice trend to come to the Boston area over the past several years has been the opening of new bakeries (especially bakery cafes), while at the same time another trend has been the opening of new independent ice cream shops in the region. And while these two trends are mostly unrelated, a business in Somerville has decided to jump on both bandwagons, opening both a bakery and an adjacent ice cream store. With it, Forge on Somerville Avenue has created a bit of a one-stop shopping situation for the many food geeks who live in and around the city.
Both Forge Baking Company and Forge Ice Cream Bar reside in a former warehouse just outside of Cambridge’s Porter Square that is set up as a little strip mall complete with a dollar store, dentist, and Chinese restaurant. Both Forge shops are set back in the corner of the shopping center, with Forge Baking Company housed in a cavernous space and Forge Ice Cream Bar sitting in a smaller room and separated from the bakery by a huge sliding wooden door. (The restrooms are in the bakery, so be prepared to use some elbow grease to slide open the door if you go late and the bakery is closing for the night.) The ice cream space has a retro vibe to it while also feeling modern and slightly industrial, with lots of vinyl, marble, wood, and brass used throughout; several stools are set up at the main counter, with a few more stools off to the side.A working scale is one of the first things seen upon entering the shop, in case customers want to see how their weight changes pre- and post-ice cream.
All of the offerings at Forge Ice Cream Bar are made from scratch, and they are dense and smooth, thanks to the slow-churning method used that is much like that of the legendary Herrell’s shops (which makes sense because the owners used to work at one of the Herrell’s stores years ago). Because the shop has only been open for a month, it is too soon to know exactly to what extent its ice cream flavors will change, but currently, a few of the daily offerings might include a mild and slightly earthy green tea, a very sweet malted vanilla, a crunchy and rich coffee heath bar, an absolutely tremendous mint cookies and cream (perhaps the best of the lot), a marvelous “take five” which includes Reese’s peanut butter cups, and, for those who might want something a bit more healthy, mango and lemon sorbet options. Toppings run the gamut from gummy bears to big and thick chocolate chips to fresh banana slices—and speaking of bananas, the signature dish at Forge Ice Cream Bar may be the banana split, which comes with three flavors of ice cream, bananas (of course), one hot and one dry topping, and whipped cream. Among the hot toppings are a silky smooth caramel made in house along with a rich hot fudge, both of which can also be used for the regular sundae and brownie sundae. Forge Ice Cream Bar also offers floats and shakes, and if you like green tea, the matcha milkshake is a winner, with the same mellow flavor as that of the green tea ice cream.
Somerville is suddenly becoming a hotbed of ice cream spots, with such places as Gracie’s, Frozen Hoagies, and Tipping Cow all joining such existing shops as Louie’s and J.P. Licks over the past couple of years. But Forge Ice Cream Bar has a little something extra going for it—namely a bakery next door—and it also has its own parking lot, a rarity within the city, which allows customers to not have to walk so far just in case they decide to go for an extra scoop or two of ice cream before heading out the door.
FORGE ICE CREAM BAR. 626B SOMERVILLE AVE., SOMERVILLE. FORGEBAKINGCO.COM/ICE-CREAM
Marc is the founder of @hiddenboston, a textbook editor, a hike leader for @AppMtnClub, and a food and travel writer and commenter for DigBoston, NBC/NECN, WBZ, WMFO and indie617.