Salt & Straw Launching Soft Serve Ice Cream Concept, Wiz Bang Bar
Portland’s first Smoked Oregon Ham soft serve is about to land, and if you’re really crazy, you’ll have it dipped in a bright, tart, black raspberry “magic shell.” So is another surprise: a spiral of vanilla custard soft serve dipped in a vat of Oregon black truffle-infused white chocolate. As Eat Beat has learned, it’s just the beginning of a wholesale rethinking of the childhood swirl at Wiz Bang Bar, an intimate ten-seat sit-down counter and to-go window operating 11am-11pm daily, inside the upcoming Pine Street Market. The grand opening is schedule for April 1 at 133 SW Second Ave.
Wiz Bang is the next big idea from Portland’s bold ice cream explorers, Salt & Straw, currently conquering Los Angeles one brazen scoop at a time. Right now, the game plan calls for five daily soft serve flavors, three mix-and-match dips, and a half-dozen plated desserts that put soft serve in the company of cakes, crazy sauces, and unexpected toppings. Also vying for attention: novel ice cream sandwiches, Choco Tacos, and Dilly Bars, in flavors like ancho chile and Mexican vanilla or smoked marionberry.
Wiz Bang Bar’s approach—what I'd call Dairy Queen meets the chef’s counter—has the ring of goofy brilliance, the kind of freewheeling ideas that helped Salt & Straw’s Kim and Tyler Malek draw unstoppable lines and achieve the unthinkable: capturing Portland in an ice cream cone (read my profile here). Perhaps it’s even a gauntlet. Pine Street Market, Portland’s first food hall, aims to be an incubator as much as a dining destination. Curator Mike Thelin challenged big-name food talents—from Olympia Provisions’s salami lord Elias Cairo to Trifecta’s celebrated baker Ken Forkish—to not just open satellite projects, but to rethink or even create new concepts. “We weren’t planning on doing any new ideas,” says Tyler Malek. (Salt & Straw is expanding its LA arm, with four outposts expected by the year’s end). “But this was one of the coolest things I’ve heard of. It’s way beyond [New York’s] Gotham Market. The best chefs in the city, coming together, doing fun projects in tiny spaces? We couldn’t resist.”
Malek, who leads Salt & Straw’s ice cream flavor think tank, plans to work the counter several days or nights a week. Wiz Bang Bar, he says, will double as his R&D lab and flavor playground. Right now, he’s test-driving ideas for plated desserts, among them Ritz Pie with apple-buttermilk soft serve, candied clementine oranges paired with candied anise seeds and Woodblock chocolate soft serve, and, not least, and a grilled biscuit topped with hazelnut ganache and roasted carrot soft serve.
Beam us up, Scotty.