There is no denying its place as a supreme spot for ice cream.
Atzs Ice Cream Shoppe is the stuff of legend in Fort Wayne, highlighted by its monstrous Mad Anthony sundae, which I have enjoyed several times at the original store on North Anthony Boulevard. But I had never made the trip south to the Tillman Road location until recently.
Although it is only 10 years older than the Anthony store, I found the looks of the Tillman location refreshing. With an array of ice cream paraphernalia including an ice cream parlor shadowbox full of trinkets and old Puritan Ice Cream, Eskimo Pie ads and newspaper clippings on the walls, it is dated but still neat and clean-looking.
The menu is scaled down, which is a good thing for a place that shouldnt be doing much more than a few sandwiches, breakfast and hot plate specials, along with its ice cream fare. But with so little on that menu to deal with, I expected those things to be done well.
I was wrong.
The signature Atzburger seemed like a safe choice, and, having had it before, I thought I knew what to expect. It was a decent-sized burger; its bun was fresh as was the crispy lettuce, red onion circle and ripe tomato sitting open face on one half of it. But there was just one slice of bacon on the burger and three – count em – three tiny mushrooms slices. Slathered in ketchup and mustard, it was still OK, but it could have been so much better.
The barbecued chicken sandwich from the specials board, however, didnt even try to be good. The chicken breast was pale and rubbery with no signs of spending any time on a griddle. I wondered if it was simply microwaved as I heard one ding a few times when my order was prepared. It was coated in a cheap runny barbecue sauce and was topped with just two pickle slices, even though I asked to have it deluxe with tomato and lettuce. When I told my server, she returned a few minutes later with a couple of tomatoes, but no lettuce. At that point, I gave up and just ate what I could of the flavorless fowl.
Service was an issue during both visits. In spite of being terribly slow, the folks waiting on me seemed disinterested and preoccupied with who knows what (it sure wasnt tending to the filthy mens room). I never received a drink refill during my visits, and the wait for food was way too long.
I will give them credit for honesty, however, as one time I tried to order the daily special turkey dinner but was advised against it because they were out of gravy and it wasnt very good anyway.
What was really good was the Philly cheese steak soup. The thick, creamy cheese base was filled with grilled onions and peppers and tender slices of steak, and it was worth having again.
The chili was not. It had none of the spicy tomato flavor one expects from chili and wasnt much better when spiked with Tabasco. It was thick and meaty but needed some spices.
The ham and beans, another dinner special, were OK with big cubes of tender ham, chunks of carrot and diced onions mixed in with the still al dente beans. The cornbread arrived about five minutes late and had apparently been warmed up in the microwave because half of it was hard and inedible.
My side salad – cabbage-dotted iceberg topped with a little cheese – was at least edible but rivaled the chili in its mediocrity.
Breakfast was better. My ham and cheese omelet was hefty and stuffed with a generous amount of ham that looked and tasted as if it was browned a bit on a griddle – a nice touch – and it had plenty of gooey cheddar. The shoestring hashbrowns could have spent a little more time browning on the griddle but were still decent, and the big sugar-topped blueberry muffin was above par.
And, as usual, all of the ice cream treats I tried were fantastic.
You will not find a place better at making milkshakes than Atzs. My strawberry shake was almost chunky it had so many slices of fruit in it. It was not too thick and not too runny and I refilled the parfait glass it is served in twice with the leftovers in that stainless shake mixer cup they gave me.
The chocolate soda was also great. Made with chocolate ice cream, along with the syrup upon my request – I have yet to make a special request at an Atzs that isnt welcome – it was frothy, decadent and just perfect.
Speaking of perfect, the classic turtle sundae, probably the restaurants most popular treat, was wonderful with lots of hot fudge and caramel and the kind of slightly salty premium pecans you cant get enough of.
Its just too bad I have had more than enough of the food. If just half of the same care and quality ingredients that go into the ice cream went into the rest of the menu, Atzs could be a regular destination for more than just dessert.
Restaurant: Atzs Ice Cream Shoppe
Address: 211 Tillman Road
Hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Handicapped accessible: Yes
Credit cards: Yes
Menu: Atzburger ($4.99), ham and cheese omelet ($6.49), BBQ chicken sandwich ($5.29), soup ($2.99), turtle sundae ($5.29), shake ($4.29), ice cream soda ($3.49)
Food: * (3-star maximum);
atmosphere: 1/2 (1 maximum), service: 0 (1 maximum)
Note: Restaurants are categorized by price range: $ (less than $20 for three-course meal), $$ ($20-$29), $$$ ($30-$39), $$$$ ($40-$49), $$$$$ ($50 and up).