Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 8
 
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
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It’s New to Us by Jean Stratton



ICE CREAM & CAKE: “We started making ice cream in the 1980s at Halo Farm. It became popular, and we sold the ice cream to restaurants. Then, we opened Halo Pub here 15 years ago, and we have another Halo Pub in Hamilton Square.” Jerry Reilly, owner of Halo Pub and Halo Fête on Hulfish Street, is shown with his granddaughter, Lucy Arnold (left), store manager, and his daughter, Kathleen Arnold, executive assistant and corporation secretary.

Ice Cream Cones, Shakes, Sundaes, Cakes Are Highlights at Halo Pub and Halo Fête

Creamy, rich, and scrumptious!

Some say Marco Polo brought back a recipe for water and ices from China in the 1300s; later milk and cream were added, resulting in the creamy creation we know as ice cream. However it got to us, it has been an unqualified success. Life without ice cream? Unthinkable!

They definitely understand that at Halo Pub, located at 5-9 Hulfish Street. Opened 15 years ago by Jerry Reilly, who also owns Halo Farm Dairy in Lawrence Township and Halo Pub in Hamilton Square, it offers delicious homemade, all-natural ice cream without any artificial ingredients, preservatives, thickeners, or growth hormones. It also has more body (less water) than other ice cream.

“My concern about the product is actually rather primitive,” says Mr. Reilly. “The sugar should be cane sugar, and it should be brown. There should be no artificial colors or flavors. Actually, keeping it simple is very hard.

“A good ice cream should melt in your mouth fast,” he adds. “It isn’t chewy or longlasting.”

At Halo Farm, where ice cream is made daily, they have it down to an art. “We’re a licensed dairy and make and sell ice cream,” says Mr. Reilly. “We make it all from scratch. Our milk and cream comes from local, grass-fed cows from 16 different herds in the area. Because we deal with local farms, we eliminate the cost of trucking milk around. This always made sense to me.”

Definite Ideas

When Mr. Reilly decided to open Halo Pub in Princeton, not only did he have definite ideas about the quality of the ice cream, he was also concerned with the setting in which it was to be presented. “The early ice cream parlors — even some today — looked like emergency rooms! I didn’t want that at all.”

“He wanted it to look like a tavern,” points out Mr. Reilly’s daughter Kathleen Arnold, who is executive assistant and corporation secretary. “We got beams from a barn we had in Harrisburg, Pa., and they became part of the store. I started shopping for antiques and pictures, and I discovered that there was a lot of art with cows, so we incorporated that. We also got antique scoops.”

The “Pub” is enormously pleasing. It does indeed resemble a tavern, and customers of all ages line up to sample what is within.

“A wonderful thing about it is that there is always a festive atmosphere,” says Princeton resident Suzanne Hunt. “It’s also fun to sit there and look at the cows! I love the community atmosphere. It’s kind of like a country atmosphere, with the rustic wood and pictures of the cows. I love to see the different ages of the customers. It’s inter-generational; you’ll see grandparents, parents, and kids all sitting together.

“They also have very good coffee to go with the ice cream,” she adds, “and it’s always a destination place when we have out-of-town visitors.”

Ice cream cones, sundaes, shakes, and cakes are all available in every flavor one could imagine. “Vanilla is still the number one seller,” reports Mr. Reilly. “We have two flavors of it: one with beans from Madagascar Bourbon (the most familiar), and one with beans from Tahiti.”

Hot Fudge

Chocolate, strawberry, and butter pecan are also hot sellers, he adds, and cones and cups are both favorites. Sugar or wafer cones are available, and many customers like to top them off with the ever-popular sprinkles.

Halo Farm also makes its own hot fudge and whipped cream, and sundaes are another perennial favorite.

Quality ingredients are of the utmost importance, emphasizes Mr. Reilly. “The best cocoa comes from Holland, the best milk chocolate from Switzerland, and the best dark chocolate from Belgium and France. This is a given, and these, except for milk chocolate, are the ingredients we use in our chocolate, including our hot chocolate.”

In addition to ice cream, Halo Pub offers a variety of coffees and two hot chocolate choices, with the “Chocolate De Paris” (featuring Valrhona dark chocolate from France) a big favorite. Cafe latte, mocha latte, cappuccino, mochaccino, and espresso are among the popular coffees, as well as the “Floatissimo” specialty: cappuccino over ice cream.

In the morning, many customers come in for the all-organic orange juice, and for coffee and pastry, muffins, or donuts, which are baked on the premises. Raspberry Danish, cinnamon buns, and apple “pockets” are among the favorites. A free pastry is offered with the purchase of any coffee.

With the success of the Pub, Mr. Reilly decided to expand into the space next door and create Halo Fête, specializing in special occasion ice cream cakes.

Occasion Cakes

“Our executive chef, Hari Nayak, makes wonderful ice cream occasion cakes in all designs, which can be fully custom or pre-prepared,” says Mr. Reilly. “They are as good to eat as they are to look at.”

Available in all sizes (individual to full-size), they are very popular, especially for birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, graduations, etc.

Mr. Reilly is delighted that his dream of offering all-natural, quality ice cream has been realized, and is available at reasonable prices.

“I felt that there was a need for this kind of ice cream,” he explains. “I wanted this to be an affordable place for families. My number one objective was for parents to be able to take kids out for ice cream and not have to spend $40. A lot of families come here. Our ‘tiny’ (aka ‘kiddie’) cone is $1.25, and it’s not just for kids.

“I like the fact that I’m doing something important for people, especially those who might not be able to afford it otherwise. And the nice thing is that this provides an opportunity for a family to go out and do something together.”

He is also pleased that his own family continues to be a part of the operation. With his daughter Kathleen and his granddaughter Lucy Arnold, who is store manager, it is three generations happily scooping up ice cream!

Creme de menthe chocolate chip, mango, rum raisin, raspberry sorbet, coffee chocolate almond, milk chocolate brandy hazelnut … the flavors go on and on. And you can be sure that whichever you choose, it will be delectable to the last scoopful!

Halo Pub is open Sunday through Thursday 7 a.m to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday 7 to 11:30. From April through October, Halo Pub also offers live music outdoors every Saturday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. (609) 921-1710.

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