“Nothing is off-limits, except maybe road kill,” jokes Michael Darby, founder and “chief creative” behind this instant hit. Indeed, in the few short years since launching LICK, he’s already experimented with nearly 200 recipes. At any given time, the chalkboard behind the counter at his brick-and-mortar HQ (which opened in 2014) may list smoked strawberry, brown butter, chili-papaya sorbet and the double take–worthy pork belly-pecan. Even his ice cream sandwich is a sly novelty, trading cookies for a fried bronut (or brioche-doughnut hybrid). Still, it’s the crème brûlée (a.k.a. the M2) locals go gaga for—an innocuous name for an addictive mystery whose flavor oscillates between burnt sugar, nougat, toffee and chocolate.
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