If you want frozen custard in New York these days, your choices are Shake Shack or...Shake Shack.* But a few months ago a new custard player rolled into town, made by a Midwesterner and all, and it's a pretty good thing.
* RIP Custard Beach, and farewell Timmy O's, which took off for the suburbs.
5 Oz. Factory is so named for the portion sizes: five ounces of shredded cheese in its grilled cheese sandwiches and five (or ten) ounces of frozen custard per order. You'll find it in the West Village, where there is not a Shake Shack (yet), and though there's plenty of great soft serve nearby, this is ice cream worth seeking out.
Legally speaking, frozen custard must be at least 10% butterfat by weight with 1.4% egg yolk solids. Beyond FDA requirements, custard typically has less air worked into it than either ice cream or soft serve. The result is a soft ice cream with the density of gelato and a silky, buttery richness you need to taste to believe. Subtle is not how frozen custard plays things.
Fancy, nuanced flavors aren't how frozen custard rolls either, so your options at 5 Oz. Factory are limited to a clean vanilla, a cocoa-y chocolate, and some specialty items like caramel or, for peppermint patty lovers, chocolate-mint. You'll find more choice in the spread of toppings ($.75 each), some gooey, some crunchy, some, like gummy bears, purely nostalgic. Brownie chunks and chocolate-covered pretzels did us just fine.
The custard itself ($4.50 for a five-ounce portion, $7 for ten ounces) may not match up to the Midwest's best, but it's pretty darn good—so thick your plastic spoon might get lost along the way, especially creamy, and not too sweet. It's as good, if not better, than Shake Shack's, and it's one more reason that the West Village is an ice cream destination neighborhood.