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[Cheap Eats]

Billings & Stover
Just what the doctor ordered

on the cheap
Real Pizza Koreana Vici Athan’s

Billings & Stover, Harvard Square’s old-school apothecary, not only houses an odd medley of goods, but stocks a mean assortment of sweets as well. Not that you’d know by looking: its window on well-traveled Brattle Street displays lunch boxes and a hodgepodge of knickknacks, and certainly doesn’t share the store’s tasty secrets with those peering in.

This 1854 store was recently renovated and now sells, among other things, perfume, sunglasses, Mason Pearson hairbrushes, and even the odd Band-Aid, displayed under the easy-to-miss collection of the store’s original 19th-century prescription ledgers perched inches from the ceiling. But that’s not the only reason to come to the shop. It offers a sugar-high dream come true for kids — and for the young at heart. The range of cookies, cakes, candies, ice cream, floats, and fudge makes it difficult to settle on a choice, but that’s where helpful guidance from the informal senior employees comes into play.

The marble counter holds 18 different types of buttery fudge, in flavors as exotic as mint chocolate, marble, and cookies and cream. The soft, rich hunks are sold by the pound for $8.99, but it’s hard to imagine who could manage more than the teensiest sliver.

Before venturing into the warm shop, we’d been hard-pressed to find a perfect lime rickey ($2.29), the old-time drink of Sprite and squeezed limes drenched in lime syrup — a sort of super-sweet Sprite-plus. Billings & Stover’s expert version goes perfectly with the mouth-gluing fudge: nibble the fudge, sip the rickey, nibble the fudge, sip the rickey.

And if that doesn’t sufficiently amp up your energy level, dip into one of the 10 old-standby flavors of ice cream and frozen yogurt imported from Richardson’s Farms in Middleton. As the woman behind the counter says, " It’s the best ice cream in the world. But it’s expensive. " After paying a surprising $2.36 for a mini-kiddie cup, we see what she means.

Billings & Stover is located at 41A Brattle Street, in Cambridge. Call (617) 547-0502.

Issue Date: April 12-19, 2001