Commonly known as the 99 Cone around Europe, this treat dates back to the 1930s, when a Cadbury Flake chocolatebar was stuck into a cone of vanilla soft serve. The origin of the name “99” is one of the biggest culinary mysteries across the pond. Some say it is named after the address of the shop that first combined the creamy ice cream with crumbly chocolate. Others say it refers to an elite guard of 99 soldiers in the service of the King of Italy, who owned most of the soft-serve machines during that time. But one thing is for sure: it is a magical combination rarely seen in the States.
The owner of Cone, Irish native Sean McGuire, felt nostalgic for the treat that is so popular in his homeland. He and his wife Mary wanted to open a neighborhood ice cream parlor where families can gather over quality ice cream in the cozy store or on the spacious patio. They partnered with a local creamery to offer a line of seasonal and specialty ice cream flavors such as cake batter, cookie monster, bubble gum, apple pie and strawberry cheesecake.
Cone also offers a variety of Irish-influenced flavors such as Irish mint chip. Or enjoy the specialty sundae, Hair of the Dog, made with Guinness-, Bailey's Irish Cream- and Jameson-flavored ice cream topped with chocolate syrup, housemade whipped cream and sprinkled with chocolate flakes. Other gluttonous sundaes include The Blarney Turtle (vanilla ice cream with roasted peanuts and caramel), as well as the Sprouting Shamrock (cookie dough ice cream with Oreos and gummy worms).
For simpler offerings and a lesson in Gaelic, each scoop can be ordered as a single, “a haon,” or double, “a dó.” The family-friendly shop also serves lil’ cones. Soft serve is available plain, dipped in Irish chocolate or as the quintessential Cone O’Flake. The Gaelic influences infiltrate beyond the menu and into the logo of the restaurant. The cone is modeled after a traditional Celtic crest, and the font is reminiscent of Gaelic script, designed by graphic designer Nathaniel Copper.
“I wanted to make it Celtic without shamrocks all over the place,” McGuire said. The only shamrocks found in the airy ice cream parlor are in the form of green-frosted cookies in the display case that also houses Flirty Cupcakes. Ok, there are a couple of clovers on the walls, but that’s mostly for luck, not decor.
1047 W. Madison Ave.; 312-666-5111