Nestled beside Loc’s Chicken & Waffles in Statesboro’s old K-Mart shopping center is none other than the Rolling Monkey, a jungle-themed ice cream parlor boasting premium ice cream and individually tailored creations.
I visited the Rolling Monkey on a Saturday evening, and the line was almost out the door, much to my surprise, given that the restaurant has been open for more than two months now. As I walked inside, I first noticed the restaurant’s verdant interior, banana-shaped lounge chairs and vintage Edison light bulbs. I heard the pounding utensils of the ice cream artisans behind the counter and the high-pitched squeals of children enjoying themselves.
The Rolling Monkey specializes in rolled ice cream, serving what they call “original creations” in a three-step process for the customer. Simply choose premium ice cream and select one of the more than 10 original creations on the menu. Then, choose from a variety of unlimited toppings, including Nutter Butters, chopped walnuts, strawberries, Fruity Pebbles and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
The wait time to order was roughly 15 minutes, a fair and balanced delay considering the line and Statesboro’s usual Saturday night bustle. I ordered the “Cookies and Dream,” a luscious, Oreo-stuffed dish, heaven-sent from sucrose paradise. Mesmerized, I watched as one of the artisans crushed the Oreos and ice cream into a velvety, mouth-watering liquid. She then spread the frozen concoction into a thin sheet of beige. To top it all off, the artisan wrote my name in chocolate syrup, added a smiley face, and with both hands placed on her griddle scraper, pushed the sheet into little manicotti-shaped rolls, a “Cookies and Dream” come true.
Photos by Brett Daniel
The standard toppings for the “Cookies and Dream” are a single Oreo, whipped cream, chocolate pocky sticks and a single cherry on top, but customers may choose any topping they want. I’m quite indecisive about toppings, so I was extremely grateful when the artisan helped my hesitation along by allowing me to choose between the standard toppings and my own. I went with the standard choices, which resulted in a pleasant presentation. I sat down and took the first bite.
Delicious. I decided to crunch up the pocky sticks and Oreo into the ice cream with my spoon, creating a more consistent ice cream mixture. The result was a thick, cookies-and-cream succulence, rich with chocolatey flavor and potent vanilla character, unmatched by any counterpart I’ve had in the past.
I also sampled my friend’s dish, the “But First, Coffee!” creation, a bolder choice for those morning joe addicts, reinforced in its distinctive stiffness by two Biscoff cookies, whipped cream and a dash of chocolate shavings. This dish actually made me crave a cup of black coffee, and it will definitely be my first choice next time I visit the Rolling Monkey.
Last on my sample list was none other than the eponymous dish itself, the “Rolling Monkey,” which has its base in bananas, walnuts, caramel and chocolate. To make the dish even sweeter, my friend decided to top it with strawberries, coconut, whipped cream, and yes, marshmallows! One bite later, I was stunned. The titular dish tasted light and comfortable, like sinking into a deep slumber atop a sweet, icy dream cloud. It was, hands down, the most flavorful dish of the three.
In terms of atmosphere, the Rolling Monkey is highly family-friendly and energetic, yet cozy and generally enjoyable. It is, however, quite noisy due to the constant pounding of kitchen utensils. My friends and I did have trouble hearing each other speak several times throughout our stay, but it was hardly unbearable and quieted down as the Saturday evening rush dissipated. The Rolling Monkey is definitely not appropriate for a date, although with the simple addition of some outdoor seating, if allowed, or some sort of accommodation away from the kitchen noise, perhaps it could be in due time.
As far as my wallet is concerned, I paid $7.02 for my dish, a reasonable price for the quality of the food and the artisanal performance. Customers pay before the creation process begins. Although I did tip during payment, I found the idea of tipping before seeing how the artisan performed to be rather counterintuitive. The service, however, turned out to be worth every penny.
Regarding college students and their typical spending habits, I think Rolling Monkey is something like a “once-a-month” treat; whereas for families, whose children will love the restaurant’s cartoonish monkey theme, spinning banana chairs and frenetic ambiance, it’s more like a “once-a-week” outing, a pleasant opportunity, perhaps, for parents to treat themselves while the kids play. In addition, patrons need not worry about issues with restaurant cleanliness; the Rolling Monkey’s health inspection score was a well-rounded 100.
All of the dishes I tasted were, without a doubt, exquisite. Clearly, great care has gone into the creation of each and every dish on the menu, and I applaud the owners’ passion for their work. Finally, the service was accessible, friendly and helpful, a fitting complement to the restaurant’s lively environment; therefore, considering all aspects in totality, I give the Rolling Monkey 4.8 out of 5 stars. With its fun decor, tasty treats and sprightly environment, the Rolling Monkey is sure to be a cathartic local staple for years to come.
“It is the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten. It is wonderful. This is my second trip here, and it was even better this time.” -Doty Dunn, Statesboro local
“It’s warm. Inviting. I really like the setting of it as well as the interest servers take in getting your order correct and making it fun.” -Kate Keith, Statesboro local
“They welcomed us as we came in the door. They were very friendly, and as we were going through the line, the preparers of the ice cream were very nice and engaging. It’s just really clean and fresh. It almost felt like you were going to a spa and got to eat ice cream.” -Justin Keith, Statesboro local
430 Northside Drive East, Unit 166
Statesboro, Georgia 30458
Sunday: 12 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Tuesday-Friday: 12 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Saturday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.