As summer heats up and cool drinks are the order of the day, Conrad’s Confectionery, a year-round mecca for chocolate and traditional holiday sweets, offers vibrant, refreshing options. This 82 year-old family-run institution transforms itself in the spring and summer months into an old fashioned soda fountain, with counter seating and small tables and booths to tuck into in the back. The menu is vintage Americana at its best, with triple-decker and single sandwiches and salads offered in a Happy Days kind of atmosphere. A walk-up service area beckons with a fun-to-ring chiming doorbell, nearly 15 standard hard ice cream flavors, sherbets, soft ice creams and delectable toppings. All ice creams and toppings are made on the premises, from hot fudge and whipped cream to simple and fruit-based syrups, caramel, marshmallow and peanut butter. Sundaes are worth the calories, particularly when enjoyed at the soda fountain where glass canning jars brimming with dry toppings like non-pareils, praline pecan granola and coconut create a charming, folksy vibe.
Cones are a popular option (starting at $1.50 for a “Mini Me”) along with French ice cream soda ($5.00, ice cream soda topped with fresh made whipped cream, nuts and cherry), milk shakes ($3.75/$5.50), milk shake floats (same as the shake but with an additional scoop of ice cream), malteds (starting at $3.95), cherry lime ricky ($3.50, fresh squeezed lime, cherry syrup and soda water) and other freshly squeezed citrus drinks. Peach ice cream, made with Jersey grown peaches, was deliciously creamy with a subtle aroma and flavor of the stone fruit. An inviting selection of homemade sherbets are refreshing choices, particularly when blended into coolers. My favorite is the Lemon Cooler ($4.50), made with simple syrup, fresh juice of one lemon and seltzer water and topped with a large scoop of lemon sherbet. The bright lemony flavors of summer are delightfully fresh in this nicely balanced sweet and citrus-tangy drink that requires straw and spoon to enjoy. My son Josh is a fan of the egg cream, a mix of chocolate syrup, splash of milk and a long shot of seltzer water.
Sandwiches and salads are a natural accompaniment to Conrad’s sweet drinks. Josh’s hands-down favorite is the BLT, which pleases as much with its simplicity as it does with its flavor. My daughter Olivia raved about the tuna sandwich, nothing fancy or sophisticated about it, “just the way it should be.” This is solid white tuna, smashed into a smooth flake and well blended with good mayo, free of celery, reminiscent of Eisenberg’s in NYC’s Flatiron district. Served with slices of ripe Jersey tomatoes on toasted rye, it was sandwich shop perfection.
Conrad’s walk up entrance seems to have its share of four legged customers and the eatery thoughtfully keeps bowls of fresh water adjacent to the door for dogs. According to 3rd generation owner JJ Conrad, the vanilla Mini Me cone is the most popular choice for canines.
Conrad’s Confectionery is located at 107 Westwood Ave., Westwood, NJ, (201) 664-2895, www.conradscandy.com. Soda fountain hours are Monday through Saturday, 11AM-10PM, Sunday walk up window only 2-10PM. Closes early in bad weather.
Heidi Raker Goldstein is our Bergen county regional editor. A locavore, cooking enthusiast, publicist and mother of three junior gourmands, Heidi is equally comfy in greasy spoons and high-end restaurants. When not visiting local farmers markets and farm stands in Bergen and Rockland counties, this New England native, former Manhattanite and Bergen county resident is busy running her PR and green marketing agency, Raker Goldstein & Co., buying food, planning menus, cooking food, writing about food or simply eating. To reach Heidi, email her at [email protected].