Sweet Charlie’s brings to Durham the delicious Thai rolled ice cream trend that has been a global phenomenon over the last several years. The concept essentially involves a liquid base (either ice cream or yogurt or vegan milk) being poured onto an extremely cold metal plate, which is then manipulated into a big circle as it freezes. In most cases, mix-ins like Oreo cookies or strawberries are paddled into the base for extra flavor. After the base has been completely spread out, the circle is divided into strips and rolls are created from those strips. Additional toppings like roasted marshmallow and chocolate chips allow customers to make their orders extra special.
Andrew Tyndall, the owner of the Durham franchise of Sweet Charlie’s — a Philadelphia-based company — is the epitome of customer service and a true foodie by all accounts. He was extra excited to show me and my friend his shop as well as run us through the unique offerings that Sweet Charlie’s brings to the rolled ice cream table. Not only can you get your ice cream rolls standing in a cup with unlimited toppings ($7), you also have the option (for a few extra dollars) of getting those rolls on a donut (yes, I said donut — from nearby Early Bird Donuts) or a waffle (yes, I said waffle — freshly made in front of you). Is your mouth watering yet? If not, check your salivary glands.
After some thoughtful guidance and recommendations by Kylie at the register, my friend and I went all in with our rolled ice cream waffle creations. My friend chose the “Love Park” flavor with an ice cream base and chocolate, pretzel, and peanut butter paddled in, while I went with the “Smore Please” flavor with an ice cream base and graham cracker, chocolate, and roasted marshmallow paddled in. Each set of rolls was thoughtfully made and placed on top of crispy Belgian waffles by Zack and David, the ice cream whizzes manning the cold plates. I personally asked for a gazillion toppings (I mean, they’re unlimited, so why not?) including strawberries, whipped cream, and more roasted marshmallow to get the full Sweet Charlie’s experience.
As I’ve had my fair share of rolled ice cream, I was extremely pleased at how creamy this ice cream base was, and even more impressed that I could really taste the roasted marshmallow. That said, I did witness my marshmallow being gently torched in front of me before getting mixed in! Let’s just say that that marshmallow (as well as the second one I asked for as a topping) was definitely an unexpected and exciting show. At other places, I’m usually asked to customize my mix-ins, but given my tendency toward paralysis of choice, Sweet Charlie’s menu of amazing flavors with preset mix-ins makes life so much easier. That is, until you have to decide whether you want to splurge on a donut or a waffle — that decision is indeed a major ordeal.
I can’t compliment Andrew and his staff enough for a fabulous ice cream experience. Not only were our ice cream creations decadent and delicious, and the space bright and airy and welcoming, but Andrew and I could’ve gone on talking about food for several more hours. His enthusiasm for food (particularly ice cream!) is infectious, and I hope everyone gets to meet him and hear his journey with Sweet Charlie’s. I certainly can’t wait to go back and try more flavor/waffle/donut combinations!
1125 W North Carolina 54
Durham, NC 27707
Hoi Ning Ngai is the Associate Dean for Student Affairs at The Graduate School at UNC-Chapel Hill. She’s a transplant to the Triangle, a native of New York, and a lover of all things bacon, ice cream, and Paris. Follow her life adventures on Instagram at @hoiningngai!