Thursday, September 04, 2014

Ice Cream and Cookies from Over the Moon

Original Review, May 2014

A new ice cream place just opened up down the street from me, replacing Yogorino (which, apparently I've never reviewed?  Whoops.  I liked the unique texture and flavor of their "Italian" frozen yogurt).  Anyway, Over the Moon has taken Yogorino's place, in both of their locations.  I visited the smaller location in Embarcadero Center, but they also have a shop in the Marina.

Over the Moon's concept is ice cream and cookies.  Ideally, they want you to pick a type of cookie, pick an ice cream flavor, and have them as a custom ice cream sandwich.  But I'm not really into ice cream sandwiches, or even cookies, so I went for just ice cream on my first visit.

Most of the ice cream is hard ice cream, house made.  The flavors are pretty standard, the most interesting was Peanut Butter & Jelly, but I tried a sample and found it to be highly unremarkable.  It tasted like what I could get at the grocery store, and was slightly crystalized.  They also offer plain soft serve froyo and a single soft serve ice cream flavor.

On the cookie side, they are supposed to be fresh baked.  There are about 5 types of cookies, all very basic looking, although the aroma of the cookies baking in the toaster oven is quite enticing when you walk in.

Service wasn't particularly friendly on any of my visits.  No offer was ever given to sample any flavors, although they have buckets for sample spoons on the counter, so samples are encouraged.  No description of anything was given.

I saw no reason to return here, and I can't quite figure out who they are trying to appeal to.  Our city is full of places offering exciting flavors like Humphry Slocombe or Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous, or fun technology like Smitten Ice Cream, and there really is nothing to set Over the Moon apart from any run of the mill scoop shop, at least on the ice cream front.  And, as I'd later discover, the cookies aren't great either.
Small Dulce de Leche Sugar Cone (sprinkles on the side). $2.85.
Ok, first, lols.  Just take a moment to admire this cone.  Who swirls ice cream like this?  I think you could put any random person in front of a soft serve machine and they'd do better than this.

After she swirled it, the girl told me that it was very soft, so maybe she should put it into a cup instead.  Um ... yes, it was soft, it is soft serve, but this was definitely user error as well.  I ordered soft serve, in a cone, because I love the experience of licking a soft serve cone.  So I said it was fine this way.

I really wish I had asked to try this flavor first, as I would have never gotten it.  It was crazy sweet.  Seriously, seriously crazy sweet.  I love sweet things, but I couldn't really handle more than a few licks at a time.  I had to alternate with sips of water to clean my palette.  The consistency was good though, it really wasn't too soft, even though it was falling all over the place, it didn't melt too quickly.

The cone was a standard sugar cone.  I had the option of a cake cone as well, or, for an additional fee, a waffle.  None were house made.

Another integral component of a soft serve cone for me is sprinkles.  Depending on the flavor of the ice cream, rainbow or chocolate.  Over the Moon offers a bunch of candy toppings, including sprinkles, so of course I asked for sprinkles.  But when she went to add the sprinkles, the server got scared, and offered to put them in a cup on the side, rather than tipping this cone upside down into the sprinkles.  The sprinkles were standard rainbow sprinkles, and she gave me a rather hilarious amount of them, literally, half a large cup full.  In the end, this ended up being awesome, as I could just re-dip my cone every few licks, and didn't ever run out of sprinkles.  But, sigh.

I made a mental note to try their hard ice creams on my next visit, which I think is the focus of the shop.  I certainly wouldn't get this again, although, I did somewhat enjoy it, only because I got to have soft serve, with sprinkles, in the sun, not because the product itself was good.

The price of $2.35 for a small fairly generic soft serve seems high, but that is because I grew up somewhere with plentiful soft serve ice cream, usually only $1 for a small, where the smalls are much larger than this.  Compared to froyo places, or homemade hard serve around San Francisco, the price was fine.  The extra $0.50 for a topping makes sense for more expensive toppings like heath bar, but less so for sprinkles.  I always find it crazy that people pay the same topping price for sprinkles as they do for say hot fudge, or candy.  Places where I grew up also charge less for sprinkles, or, more often, they are included for free.  Anyway, given that I got a giant cup full of sprinkles, I surely got my $0.50 worth!

Update (11/14): They no longer offer soft serve ice cream, only plain frozen yogurt.  And smalls are now $3.
Peanut Butter Cookie.  $1.25.
Ojan was with me, and didn't want ice cream, so he opted for a cookie.  They had several varieties available: chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter.  Snickerdoodle were coming out of the little toaster oven while we were there.  I admit, the aroma from the freshly baked cookies did smell good.

This was an incredibly unremarkable cookie.  It wasn't too crispy or anything, but it didn't really taste like much of anything at all.  It really seemed like it came from a mix, and didn't seem to contain chunks of peanuts.  Perhaps it would have been good warm?

Update (11/14): They now offer far more varieties of cookie, including "oreos", oatmeal chocolate chip, butterscotch, and cookie's n cream.  And I've never seen, nor smelt, them being fresh baked any more.

Update, September 2014:

I said I wasn't likely to return, except I did return, when I saw they were running a PayPal promotion.  $3 free!  While I wasn't impressed on my first visit enough to give them any real business, I'd certainly give them another shot for free!  Since I wasn’t impressed with the soft ice cream, I intended to get the soft serve yogurt instead, but sadly, the machine wasn't working.

This time, service was friendly.  I was offered samples instantly.

Rather than leave empty handed, I decided to try the hard ice cream, even though I’m generally opposed to getting hard ice cream at ice cream shops, since it is no different than what I have in my freezer at home.  I tried a few flavors, like salted butterscotch, which did have a nice salt level, but had considerable ice chunks, even in the little sample I had.  Just like the PB & J on my previous visit.

But, that tempting sounding Peanut Butter and Jelly looked like a fresh batch.  I tried a taste, and the peanut butter flavor was fantastic, so I went for it.

I'll now amend my review.  The PB & J ice cream was really quite good, but, they clearly have issues with the way the ice cream is stored.  It shouldn't be all full of ice crystals unless you get a fresh batch.

So, in the future, I'd try it again, but I'd stick with flavors that are clearly fresh.
Small Peanut Butter & Jelly Ice Cream $2.35 + 1 Topping $0.50.
This flavor was far more creamy than any other I tried.  It wasn’t freezer burned or crystalized, and I think the fresh container of ice cream was key.  Perhaps they should consider making smaller batches, as the others were all very crystalized.  Even my home freezer doesn't ruin ice cream this badly.

Anyway, the base was creamy peanut butter ice cream, always a winner.  It had swirls of grape jelly throughout, adding little pockets of additional flavor.  What I really loved was the way it melted.  All ice cream seems to melt differently, but this just got better as it got a bit softer, it almost even reminded me of soft serve.

I added sprinkles, because, sprinkles.

Definitely a good pick, and I'd get it again (if it were a fresh batch).  Update: I did get it again, and the next time, it wasn't nearly as creamy.  The age of the batch really matters.

My small was huge, an amazing value as it was totally free, but even if it wasn't, it was at least a two scooper.

Update, November 2014:

I've stopped back in several times since my original reviews, as they've had additional PayPal offers.  But each time, the hard ice cream just didn't look good.  The containers were never full nor fresh, and when I tried samples, it was always icy.  I didn't want this ice cream, even for free.  And the soft serve machine stayed broken for weeks.
Cookies N Cream Cookie. $3.
I tried several other cookies, but apparently didn't take notes, as they were all unremarkable.  They tasted like any generic cookies from a mix.  $1 is a great price, but, meh.
Small Plain Frozen Yogurt. $3.
Finally, one day, the soft serve machine was working again.  And now they offer only one kind: plain froyo.  I tried it, mostly out of curiosity since it had been broken for so long, and had no expectation that it would be remotely good.

But ... it was!  It was a strange combination of both tart and sweet.  Not "natural" flavored and just tart, but not too sweet.  It was quite unique, and I really enjoyed it.  I think it would pair nicely with both fruit based toppings if you want to feel healthy, or candy or sauces for sweet.  Most yogurt is either tart and would be strange with candy toppings, or is sweet and doesn't work well with fruit.  Points for them on creating this unique balance.

The texture was also perfect.  It was sooo creamy.  Clearly not non-fat.  It didn't melt too fast either.  Just really kinda perfect.

I'll definitely return for this again.

The price for a small is now $3 for both the frozen yogurt and the hard ice cream.

Update, March 2015:

I've returned to Over the Moon several more times, as has Ojan.  We learned that the soft serve frozen yogurt is actually Yogurino brand mix, which we used to love when we had it previously.  Such a unique tart flavor!

But I've continued my quest of trying the hard ice cream, whenever it looks fresh.
Small Funfetti. $3.
On this visit, the Funfetti was fresh.  I asked to try a sample, and it was quite sweet, but rather delicious.  Exactly like Pillsbury Funfetti, and it reminded me of a sweet Funfetti Chex mix my mom once made that I adored.

After the sample bite, I decided to get a cup of it, rather than the tart froyo.  But ... wow, what is good as just a single bite, doesn't necessarily turn into good in larger quantities.  It was just way, way too sweet! Maybe I just wasn't in the mood.

The consistency was perfect though, so light and fluffy, and it melted beautifully.  I liked the texture the bits of rainbow sprinkles added.  But it had actual Funfetti mixed into it, and it was just too sweet for me.  Neither Ojan nor I wanted more than a few bites of it, although we both loved our initial bites!

Ojan went for the Andes Mint flavor, with a light chocolate base.  We both thought it wasn't that chocolately, nor that minty, but the texture was light.

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