• Steven Keith

Artisan ice cream arrives and Lola’s returns in South Hills

Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream comes to Bridge Road bakery, and a hot spot just down the street has reopened as good as ever

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad at Lola's

I’ve got two words for you: Brambleberry Crisp.


Here are two more: Ice Cream.


Where can you get it? Sarah’s Bakery.


Jeni's Ice Cream at Sarah's Bakery

Already known for delicious baked treats and carryout dinners, that hot spot in South Hills is now a cool place to pick up some ice cream as well.


And not just any ice cream, but new-to-the-area artisan brand Jeni’s Ice Cream delivered weekly from Columbus, Ohio.


Namesake owner Jeni Britton Bauer started making ice cream using natural ingredients from grass-pastured cows back in 2002, years before artisan cream became the hot food trend it is today.


“I am so excited to sell this product made by a woman-owned business with sustainable ingredients and fair-trade farmers,” bakery owner Sarah Plumley said in announcing the new offering. “Jeni’s is made with love … and I can’t think of a better addition to the bakery!”


What makes Jeni’s ice cream unique is its silky texture and buttercream body featuring bright flavors in creative combinations like Middle West Whiskey & Pecans, Brandied Banana Brulee, Sweet Cream Biscuits & Peach Jam, Strawberry Buttermilk, Pistachio & Honey and Savannah Buttermint.


Meatballs from Lola's

I had the opportunity to taste more than a half-dozen different flavors this week (tough job, I know) and can definitely vouch for their deliciousness.


We adored the cocoa-rich intensity of Blackout Chocolate Cake, the toasted-nut notes of Salted Peanut Butter with Chocolate Flecks, the sweet-tart tang of Raspberry Rose Jelly Donut and the crisp, clean finish of the sangria-style Frosé (frozen rosé) sorbet featuring a blend of pear, strawberry and watermelon.


My favorite, though, was the intoxicatingly good Brambleberry Crisp studded with oven-toasted oat streusel and spiked with ribbons on blackberry and blackcurrant jam. (The ice cream is flavored with prized Madagascar vanilla, the streusel is a family recipe and the jam is made exclusively for Jeni’s by a local farm.) Man, is it good!


Jeni’s ice creams come in single-serving and pint prepackaged containers (no scoops) and Plumley told me she’ll receive a new delivery of flavors every Wednesday afternoon.


Arriving today are Salty Caramel, Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, Goat Cheese with Red Cherries, Blackout Chocolate Cake, Coffee with Cream & Sugar and Lemon Blueberry Parfait, along with dairy-free Texas Sheet Cake and dairy-free Cold Brew with Coconut.


They all sound great, but I’ll officially be stalking the place until more Brambleberry Crisp arrives.

  • IF YOU GO: Sarah’s Bakery, 1011 Bridge Rd. in South Hills, is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call 304-343-2253 or visit the bakery’s Facebook page.

• • •


A few days later I visited another hot spot on the hill, just a few doors down the street, at the newly reopened Lola’s.


Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pizza from Lola's

Once again welcoming guests in spruced-up dining areas indoors and on new large picnic tables outside, Lola’s is known for a selection of really good specialty pizzas.


The Swift Level Farm Steak & Cheese with jalapenos, the Fig Jam & Rosemary with gorgonzola, the Artichoke & Goat Cheese with oven-roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic and Kalamata olives.


But don’t overlook the phenomenal starters, salads and sandwiches here, too.


I’ve enjoyed the panko-crusted, pan-seared mozzarella many times, so this visit I savored hearty homemade meatballs bathed in thick tomato sauce, followed by a nice Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with red onion, fresh oranges, avocado, feta and cilantro-lime vinaigrette tossed with mixed greens.


Other popular salad options include the pan-seared Goat Cheese Salad with tomatoes, mixed greens and balsamic vinaigrette; the BLT Salad featuring bacon, mixed greens, tomatoes, croutons and buttermilk herb dressing; a marinated Kale Salad with fresh oranges, pumpkin seeds, crumbled feta and cilantro-lime vinaigrette; and a Roasted Beet Salad with goat cheese, candied walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette.


Front porch at Lola's on Bridge Road

For my pizza fix, I enjoyed a small Spicy Shrimp & Sausage topped with oven-roasted tomatoes and goat cheese on a perfect flat-in-the-middle, pillowy-around-the-edges baked crust.


And that legendary house-made red sangria they’re know for? Awesome as ever.


Welcome back, Lola’s! We’ve missed you.


  • IF YOU GO: Lola’s, 1038 Bridge Rd. in South Hills, is open from 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 4-10 p.m. Friday, noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.. For more information, call 304-343-5652, visit www.lolaswv.com or check out the restaurant’s Facebook page.


• • •


Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy” who writes a weekly column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has appeared in several state, regional and national culinary publications. Follow him online at www.wvfoodguy.com or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at wvfoodguy@aol.com.

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