If you want to make Chef David Shiplett wince, call him traditional.
A man with a French chef degree, Shiplett started selling tacos in Bradenton’s Village of the Arts nearly two years ago as an act of rebellion after 35 years doing upscale fine dining.
“But I always wanted to do a taco shack,” a grinning Shiplett said Thursday as diners made cooing sounds over some of the 17 mostly non-traditional tacos on the menu at his Birdrock Taco Shack, 1004 10th Ave. W., Bradenton, including roasted beef with goat cheese, eggplant and queso, and asian shortrib and duck bacon.
So, it makes sense that if Shiplett opened an ice cream shop, or, excuse us, ice cream shack, in Village of the Arts, to complement his taco shack, it would be non-traditional.
Meet Atomic Cat — named by Shiplett in honor of the Village of the Arts’ ever present felines — a craft ice cream business featuring homemade toppings and high-end rich ice cream served in Chinese restaurant take-out containers, created by Shiplett and former Village of the Arts pastry chef Tara Allison, who ran the now-closed Sweets’ Bakehouse at 930 12th St. W. in the Village.
Housed in an eight-foot-square by eight-foot-square cedar shack built in Canada and shipped in pieces on a pallet down to its new home next to the taco shack, Atomic Cat will have its grand opening 4-10 p.m. Friday and noon to 10 p.m. Saturday coinciding with the July art walk — the Village’s open house for restaurants, art galleries and other businesses — which is 6-9:30 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
“Dave came to me about six months ago and said, ‘Hey, I have an idea,’ ” said Allison who will serve customers through the Dutch door in the cedar shack, where her freezer takes up much of the room. “His original idea was gelato. I said, ‘Gelato is great but I think people love old-fashioned ice cream. My idea was ultra-classic, high-end ice cream with a chef-y mix because no one else is doing that.”
Here’s the specs
Atomic Cat has contracted with a nearby ice cream packing company which will make the Atomic Cat ice cream according to recipes that Shiplett and Allison have devised based on their “tasting” research locally and up and down the eastern seaboard of the United States, Allison said.
“What we are working with is locally-sourced, high-end, really high-quality ingredients,” Allison said. “Our ice cream dairy base comes from Dakin Dairy in East Manatee. We are going as organic and whole as we can.”
A single scoop of ice cream is $3.
“It’s a big, hearty scoop,” Allison said. “We also do a double, which is two half-scoops, which is also $3.”
A triple is $4.50 and is three half-scoops.
The sundaes range from $5.50 to $7.50 and floats are $5.
Atomic Cat will start off being open just two days a week — 4-10 p.m. Fridays and noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays.
The owners are clear to state that their ice cream is not hand-churned, but that it is made in small batches.
“My recipes are crafted specifically for the run we are doing,” Allison said. “Each run is five gallons which makes two barrels of ice cream and that’s it.”
Atomic Cat will always carry chocolate, strawberry and vanilla, but, on top of that, the “blackboard menu” will constantly change and have special flavors, which, in July, are peaches and cream and coffee, Allison said.
“The thing that sets us apart from other local ice cream, which includes tons of great ice cream here in Manatee, is our homemade toppings,” Allison said. “We don’t pop a can for anything. Everything from the hot fudge, to the caramel to the strawberry sauce to the chocolate sauce to the local blueberry-picked sauce will be handmade right here at Birdrock.”
Allison will also make homemade regular and flavored whipped creams and has been experimenting with homemade sprinkles. The sundaes will start with “awesome bases,” including homemade brownies or blueberry or peach cobbler, or pie or cake or many other choices before the ice cream goes on top.
“We will always have some kind of pie, cobbler or cake as base options as well as all my other baked goods that people have loved over the years that David came to know me for,” Allison added.