If you've ever walked past the sky-blue Victorian with the striking yellow and orange patches at the corner of Octavia Street and Ivy Alley and thought, "I wish something cool would go in there," well, guess what? You got it, dude. The second iteration of Russian Hill's Loving Cup is there, giving frozen yogurt and rice pudding the full Humphry Slocombe treatment -- right down to the red metal folding chairs outside.
Rice pudding, although a version appears in just about every ethnic cuisine on earth, is always going to be one of those things that elicits strong reactions. By way of example: "It's what my grandmother used to make," versus "It's glop." Loving Cup's elevation of a fusty, rather humble dessert involves semi-unusual flavors such as Nutella, Almond Butter and Chai Spice, with toppings ranging from house-made ganache to steamed milk -- and if anyone's going to win skeptics over, it's them. The Cookies and Creme might not be the most photogenic of desserts, but it hails the exact balance of sweetness and the texture is just right. You can tell it's made with Arborio rice. And the frozen yogurt, a perennial winner, is hand-churned.
As a corner space, it's bright and airy, with lilies on the counter, strings of fabric flags to break up the industrial ceiling, and prints of a bear hugging the state of California and an actual loving cup. Where Loving Cup might earn a raised eyebrow is in the slightly cutesified signage, extolling the pro-biotic benefits of frozen yogurt as if anyone should really talk themselves into eating some on grounds of its nutritional content. And there is a "secret" menu -- scare quotes in the original -- hanging in plain sight. But those are very minor. Just indulge, people.
Loving Cup, 535 Octavia St., 701-0091.