John Park has been busy. Just a little more than a month after opening his shaved-ice shop Ice Que in Alhambra, the pastry chef (Lukshon, Providence, Water Grill) has opened a second location of his popular ice cream shop, Quenelle, in San Marino. (The first opened in Burbank in 2013.) Given how blistering hot it's been lately, this is very, very welcome news.
As it happens, the newest Quenelle is located in a former ice cream shop next to a PopPhysique on Huntington Drive. Why open here in San Marino? Why not, really. Park grew up nearby in Glendale; he went to culinary school in Pasadena.
And Quenelle already has a bit of following in the San Gabriel Valley, as both Tokyo Fried Chicken in Monterey Park and specialty coffee shop Taza in Arcadia have been stocking Quenelle’s apple pie ice cream bars and other treats in their freezers for some time now. Park says it hasn’t been uncommon for folks, after having dessert at Tokyo Fried Chicken or Taza to then drive up to the Burbank shop to sample more of the shop’s creative offerings.
Those who made that drive will be especially happy to find that the San Marino shop has a similar ice cream menu to the one posted in Burbank. Specifically, you’ll find a handful of Quenelle’s signature flavors like blueberry pie and strawberry shortcake, plus other flavors that Park creates based on a combination of what’s in season and, as he puts it, “whatever strikes our fancy.”
On a recent visit, those fanciful flavors included grapefruit, misugaru and lychee sherbet, which you could have then topped with something like caramelized rice or coconut feuilletine. A separate “on a stick” menu features Quenelle’s much loved ice cream pops and bars. Note that if you're lactose intolerant and forgot your Lactaid, there's a jar full of them on the counter, behind the glass, for 25 cents each.
Also on the counter: cookies, brownies and, perhaps most significantly, pies. Because, yes, this Quenelle location — and only this location — has pie. Park says that having seating here was part of the reason he decided to expand his dessert offerings; indeed, unlike the mostly standing room-only Burbank outpost, this San Marino space is big enough to fit a bench and a few tables and chairs inside and out.
There are a few “quetie pies,” as Park calls them, available daily. Recently, your options were chocolate banana cream, avocado mousse, key lime, pecan and jasmine white chocolate, all available by the slice , with or without ice cream. Whole pies also can be pre-ordered.
As if ice cream and cookies and pies were not enough, there is one more thing: juice. Park has started juicing here, and the shop’s “drinkJuice” menu features about a dozen fresh juices ranging from a green juice that has, among other leafy green vegetables, daikon, Chinese celery and bok choy, to an “Orange Creamsicle” with orange juice and coconut. Nut-based drinks may be coming soon.
After you pick up your treats but before you sit down, you might want to check out the bookshelf stationed along the wall and see if something strikes your fancy ("Coach Wooden One-on-One"? "Noma"? "The Lorax"?). Because snacking on pie a la mode while gleaning life lessons from the Wizard of Westwood, Rene Redzepi or Dr. Seuss is not a bad way to spend a very hot weekend afternoon.
Quenelle is open Tuesdays through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The shop is closed Sundays and Mondays.
Quenelle: 2136 Huntington Drive, San Marino.