Thursday, August 24, 2017

Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream

Update Review, 2017

Another year, a few more flavors tried ...
Icing on the Cake, Regular (4 ounce). (July) $3.25.
"Have your cake and lick it too! Cake flavored ice cream with cake pieces, frosting bits, and a candy confetti ribbon."

I loved the sound of this one.  I don't like cake exactly, so the cake pieces aren't what drew me in, but I adore frosting, and, "candy confetti ribbon" sounded awesome.  Plus, I could see sprinkles!

The base was sweet, but didn't actually taste like cake, just like the when I had it in the America's Birthday Cake flavor.  Just sweet, not very high end ice cream, not very creamy.  But I wasn't here for the base.

The cake pieces, also unremarkable, also just like in America's Birthday Cake.  Texture, sure, and not stale, but, not special.

So what about the good stuff?  The "frosting bits", for example?  Well ... I'm not quite sure where those were.  I didn't find them really, and the ingredient listing never has a component for frosting bits, but instead has "cookie pieces" listed, in addition to the "cake pieces".  Uh ... what?  Not that I found cookie pieces either.  I find this puzzling.

But that ribbon.  I was there for the ribbon.  "Candy confetti ribbon", according to the description, or, "Confetti Swirl Ribbon", per the ingredients.  Whatever you call it, it was pretty great.  Sweet, full of texture from the sprinkles and sugar bits.

So, overall, not bad.  The ice cream quality still isn't high, but this had lots of mix-ins that worked together well to provide textures I enjoyed.  I still wonder if my local Baskin-Robbins just has low turn-around (because, really, San Francisco isn't known for ice cream weather, and, when people want ice cream, we have too many artisan ice cream shops to ever actually pick Baskin ...), or if they just don't keep their freezers well calibrated or something, because the ice cream is always so icy, and I just don't see how that could be normal.
No Sugar Added Peanut Buttery Bar Blast Ice Cream. Kid's Size (2.5 ounce). (August) $2.79.
"Go nuts for no sugar added peanut, caramel, and nougat flavored ice cream, chocolate chips, and a buttery peanut butter ribbon running throughout!"

This sounded great.  I like peanuts and caramel.  A crunchy peanut butter ribbon sounded awesome.  Chocolate chips would add some texture.  Sure!

I tried a sample of if, and I was drawn in by the crunch ribbon.  It didn't actually taste like peanut butter, it was basically like crunched up Butterfinger, but, I liked it.  So, I got a scoop.

It wasn't until I had the full scoop in front of me that I realized I had selected a No Sugar Added flavor.  "Hmm, well, if I didn't notice, great!", I thought.  And then I had a few bites.  Doh.  It tasted like sweetener.  I wasn't ever able to stop tasting it after that, and it left a particularly bad aftertaste.  Note to self: do not get the No Sugar Added flavors.

The ice cream base was described as "peanut, caramel, and nougat flavored ice cream", and, well, it just tasted like sweet (fake sweet, that is).  I did not taste peanuts, nor caramel, nor I guess nougat.  It also just wasn't creamy.  At least this time it wasn't icy like most of my Baskin Robbins visits, but, creamy it was not.  Not as it melted either.  I think their ice cream just isn't very good.

I did still like the crunch ribbon, although I didn't get much of it.  The "chocolate chips" were very confusing.  I had no chips.  But, there were bits of chocolate.  When I read the ingredients later, I found the reason why.  The ingredient listing said "No Sugar Added Chocolate Liquid Chip".  Aha.  Not real chocolate chips.  Still, they added flecks of chocolate and some texture, which is why I wanted them.

The ingredients also listed pretzel pieces, which weren't in the flavor description, and I don't think I ever really found either.  Odd.

Overall, just not very high quality ice cream, and I'm really not a fan of the No Sugar Added base.  Whoops.

Wild ‘N Reckless Sherbet
"A green apple, blue raspberry, and fruit punch flavored sherbet party. Fruit has never had so much fun."

The colors in this were quite vibrant, and although I'm totally not a sherbet person, I did like Baskin Robbins Splish Splash Sherbet, so I gave this one a chance.

Woah, sweet.  Soooo sweet.  I did like the tartness of one of the flavors, but wow.

Peach of Cake
"Peach and butter cake flavored ice creams combine with blonde brownie pieces and a caramel ribbon for a flavor that is far more than just peachy!"

This was actually quite good.  The peach flavor was vibrant.  It was quite refreshing.  I only tried a sample, so I didn't get any of the blond brownie pieces, but, I almost ordered it.  Next time ...

Update Review, August 2016

Yadda, yadda,  start with my original review, then the update, and then come back here, if you want more context for Baskin-Robbins.

For my birthday, I of course went to Baskin-Robbins to get my free birthday scoop.  I had a hard time picking a flavor, since, I don't actually think their ice cream is all that good.  I sampled a couple, and in the end, decided to just go for the special Flavor of the Month, OREO® Milk 'n Cereal Ice Cream, since it was, well, special.  This was an interesting choice for me given that I don't really care for OREO (sorry, Dad).  I was drawn in by the promise of the crunchy frosted corn flake ribbon.  Ben & Jerry's always does such a great job with ribbons, and my pick last year had an insanely good cookie dough batter flavored ribbon, so, I knew Baskin-Robbins could pull off the ribbon.
OREO® Milk 'n Cereal Ice Cream, Child Size.
"It's breakfast with Baskin! Cereal milk flavored ice cream swimming with OREO® cookie pieces, frosted corn flake cereal pieces, and a crunchy frosted corn flake cereal ribbon."

This was actually pretty good.  And I admit, I was pretty skeptical about this flavor, as it sounded rather confused.  Cereal and OREO?  How do those go together?

The base ice cream was apparently cereal milk flavored, which, to be honest, I didn't really taste.  I assumed it was a vanilla base until I copied the description from the website here.  It was loaded up with goodes though, so the base didn't really matter.  Chunks of OREO cookie were as expected, assorted sizes, and, well, they were OREO.  Since I'm not an OREO lover, these were what they were, and were not particularly interesting.  But, everything else was.

I didn't necessarily find distinct "frosted corn flake cereal pieces" and "crunchy frosted corn flake cereal ribbon", but, there was plenty of light brown stuff in there that had a slight crunch to it.  The texture was pretty strange, sorta like what you'd expect peanut butter to be like if it were made of corn flakes.  It wasn't bad though.  If you got a bite of it, it was also sorta like cookie dough with a bit of crispy crunch to it.  Pretty fascinating actually, and there was plenty of this too.

So, overall, a decent flavor.  The base ice cream wasn't flavorful nor particularly creamy quality ice cream, and the OREO cookie pieces I could do without, but the corn flake components were interesting enough that I enjoyed my scoop.   I'd likely try something new next time though.

Update Review, August 2015

If you didn't read my original Baskin-Robbins reviews, I suggest you start there, and then return to this update, since I'm skipping the background this time around.  See "Original Review: August 2014" below.

This year's visit was inspired by, you guess it, a birthday freebie.  I can't resist free treats!  My birthday rolled around, and, just like clockwork, Baskin-Robbins sent me an e-mail offering up a free scoop.  I eagerly headed there to pick a new flavor.  Spoiler: I found a winner.
Mom’s Makin’ Cookies™, Child Size.
"Mom’s secret recipe of brown sugar flavored ice cream filled with chocolate chip cookie pieces, chocolate flavored chips, and a delicious cookie dough batter flavored ribbon."

Ok, this was just downright delicious.  It was like everything you always want chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream to be.  All the flavors and textures, just amped up another notch.

So, stepping back.  The base was a sweet base, apparently brown sugar.  I'm not quite sure I'd identify it as brown sugar, but it was clearly more interesting than vanilla and not cloying sweet like cake batter.  It was creamy, and it melted perfectly on the hot day.

But the mix ins are where the magic was. First, the cookie dough batter ribbon.  This was really interesting, it wasn't thick like cookie dough gobs, or the flavored ribbons you find in Ben & Jerry's ice cream; it was more like a caramel, albeit a cookie dough flavored one.  Yup, it tasted like cookie dough, buttery and sweet.  Kinda awesome.

Next came the chocolate chip cookie pieces.  This is where I was a bit skeptical.  I didn't want chunks of cookie in my ice cream, I wanted cookie dough!  Except, these were soft, just like gobs of cookie dough, perhaps just a bit grittier?  Big, sizable chunks, perfect for some texture.

And finally, little chocolate chips, which added more crunch.

This was definitely awesome.  It was sweet, creamy, had a fun cookie dough batter swirl to keep discovering, and chunks to dig for.  It reminded me of Ben & Jerry's Milk & Cookies, just with the chocolate cookie swirl replaced with the cookie dough one, and a more interesting base swapped in.  Similar concept, but I think Baskin-Robbins had a slight edge here.

I'd definitely get this again.

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June Flavor of the Month, Dunkin’ Donuts® Coffee ‘N Donut

"Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and donut-flavored ice creams dunked with donut pieces and a chocolate flavored icing ribbon."  

Before settling on the Mom's Makin' Cookies, I also tried another tempting sounding option, inspired by their partnership with Dunkin' Donuts.  You know my fondness for Dunkin' Donuts, as I am originally from the east coast ...

I'm glad I tried it.  Because, well, wow, it was exactly as advertised.  It tasted like donuts.  Like greasy, sorta stale, cake donuts.  I didn't taste any coffee, but wow, donuts.  I can't imagine eating a scoop of this, unless maybe used in an affogado?  It was fun to try, and I'm glad I asked to sample before committing to a full scoop.

Original Review, August 2014

I grew up without a Baskin-Robbins nearby, and we always got our ice cream at home from Schwans delivery, so I somehow made it to my 30s without ever having Baskin-Robbins.  But, I love ice cream, and I'm always interested in trying out new places, so I finally checked it out.

My first visit was when I had a very sore throat, and I was on a quest to eat soft, cold things, using my GoPago credits as inspiration on where to go (yes, this was a few years ago, since GoPago is no longer active in San Francisco).  I'd just spent a couple weeks on the east coast, eating tons of soft serve ice cream, so even though it was still freezing out and totally not ice cream weather, I headed for the one place on GoPago that had soft serve: Baskin-Robbins.  (Yes, soft serve.  No it is not normal for them, they clearly specialize in hard ice cream)/

My second visit was prompted by joining their e-club, which gave me a certificate for a free scoop of ice cream for my birthday, so I went to cash in on it.  I looked up all of the flavors online beforehand so I wouldn't be too slow to decide, and had picked out a slew of flavors that I wanted.  I thought choosing one would be impossible!  Unfortunately for me, it turned out to be quite easy, as they didn't have ANY of the flavors I wanted to try!  Out of my list of 8 flavors, they didn't have a single one I wanted!  Not quite sure how that was possible.  They also didn't have the monthly special flavor.

My third visit was due to my realization that Togos was on LevelUp, with a $2 credit.  Sure, I could use my free credits to get some chips or a drink, but Baskin-Robbins is attached to Togos, and they use the same checkout.  Thus, I could use my credits to get a mini sundae!  Way better than chips or drinks :)

My next visit came from Togos running another LevelUp promotion, with a whopping $10 credit.  I think the idea was that you could get a full meal at Togos, but again, I didn't really want Togos, and that could get me quite a bit of ice cream.  And ... since Ojan wasn't going to use his credit either, I could fetch some for him too!

So, over the course of the past few years, I've tried a lot of their ice cream.  And for the most part, I'm highly unimpressed.  Maybe I'd go back for another freebee, but I certainly wouldn't pay for this ice cream.

The service at the SF location was varied.  As I mentioned, it is adjacent to a Togos, with the same staff running both places, running back and forth between them.  They are attached, but not exactly right next to each other, so this seems a little crazy.  It means you can stand there for a very long time with no one paying any attention, since they are all on the Togos side.  One staff member was also completely unfriendly, never smiling, never seeming remotely interested in her job, and generally annoyed that I was there getting ice cream.  I'll call her Ms. Surly for the rest of this review.  Another staff member was less friendly on my first visit, but was more informative and personable on subsequent visits, even striking up random conversation with me the last time I was there.  The third, I think a manager, gave decent standard service.

Soft Serve

The menu was advertising a new item: mini soft serve parfaits.  They had several varieties, each with a sauce in the bottom, then the soft serve, and then a candy topping.  Since I wanted soft serve, and a sundae is far more fun than just a cone or cup, I eagerly tried a few.

The soft serve just wasn't very good, and the form factor of these mini parfaits was far from ideal, making it impossible to get to the sauce until the end.  Why was the sauce on the bottom?
Reese's Mini Soft Serve Parfait.  $2.
I have a thing for peanut butter, so the Reese's one immediately called out to me.  Peanut butter sauce in the bottom, vanilla soft serve, peanut butter cup crumbles on top.

It was ... basically exactly as advertised.  The soft serve is a newer item for Baskin Robbins, and they only have vanilla flavor.  It wasn't very good.  It had a strange sourness to it, not tart like frozen yogurt, just ... sour.  It was creamy and a decent consistency.  It also wasn't really vanilla flavored.  Very, very mediocre soft serve.  The peanut sauce in the bottom was basically just generic creamy peanut butter.  It was hard to get to, since it was only in the bottom, and thus even though I wanted some to mix into my initial bites, I couldn't really without spilling the whole thing.  And at the end, I wound up with just a ton of peanut butter left over.  The pb sauce also got really hard from having the cold ice cream on top, making it difficult to scoop up.  The peanut butter cup crumbles were exactly what you'd expect.

I wanted this to come together better, being more than a sum of its parts, but it really wasn't.  Mediocre soft serve, pb cups, and hard to get to low end peanut butter.  Meh.

But for $2, it really did seem like a bargain, particularly compared to anything else on the menu.  I don't really understand why it was so cheap (as in, cheaper than just a bowl or cone of soft serve, even though it was bigger and had toppings ...).
Hot Fudge and Almonds Mini Parfait.  $2.
On my next visit, I tried a parfait again, since it is the only ice cream item that tell within my LevelUp budget.  I wasn't a fan of the peanut butter last time, so I went for one with hot fudge.  Even mediocre hot fudge is usually pretty good, right?

This parfait suffered from exactly the same issues as the first, namely, that you couldn't get to the sauce in the bottom, until the end, when you are left with only sauce.  Unlike the first one however, I didn't have the problem of spilling the parfait as I tried to dig for the sauce, as this one was tiny.  I thought it seemed like it had much less ice cream than the first one, and looking at the photos afterwards confirmed it.  This one barely extended above the top of the rim, whereas my first one had a nice swirl on top.  I'm not sure which one was correct, I'm guessing the first, as this looked pretty sad.  This one was made by Ms. Surly.

Anyway, the ice cream was the same mediocre soft serve, decently creamy, but not very vanilla, and with a slight sourness.  The nuts were just generic little bits of almond.  The fudge wasn't actually hot, and it wasn't particularly chocolatey.

This would have been a very boring parfait, but being the pro I am, I brought along a banana and a peanut butter cup, and turned it into a real sundae.  My final product was pretty good, but that wasn't exactly what they were offering.

I certainly would not order this plain parfait again, as it offered nothing flavor-wise.
Build-your-own Mini Parfait, hot fudge and cookie dough.  $2.
My third and final attempt at a parfait.  I kept trying, because $2 for a parfait really does sound like a great deal, if I could come up with a combo I liked.  And Ojan didn't want his $2 credit, so I might as well try again if it was free ...

On my last visit, I saw that they had the standard parfaits listed (chocolate with M&Ms, Oreos, or nuts, caramel with Snickers, peanut butter with Reece's, or strawberry with nuts).  But then it also said "or, build your own".  When I asked about it, Ms. Surly  told me that was only for the 31 Below Mix Ins, not the soft serve parfaits.  I was skeptical, since it was listed under the parfait section, but she was so grumpy and clearly unwilling to entertain this idea, that I gave up on it and picked the simple hot fudge and nuts, since I had my extra toppings with me anyway.

On this visit, I had the nicer employee, and I asked him about it.  He told me you can pick any sauce and any dry topping.  The dry toppings available were the standard candy toppings (M&Ms, Oreo, Snickers, Butterfinger, Reece's, gummy bears, sprinkles, nuts) or ... cookie dough!  This seemed like the clear winner, as it was more likely to be good than a generic candy topping.  Plus, cookie dough can be so good!  For sauces, there was the peanut butter, hot fudge, caramel, or chocolate sauce.  I didn't care for the peanut butter the first time, and thought the hot fudge was pretty mediocre, but it was the only one that seemed to go with the cookie dough, so I selected it again.  I guess the chocolate sauce would have as well, but why pick chocolate sauce when there is hot fudge?

As you can see, the nicer employee again made a much bigger parfait.  He even layered it a little, so there was the hot fudge in the bottom, then the soft serve, then some cookie dough, then he added even more soft serve, and more cookie dough!  Surly employee certainly did not do that.  Then, he asked if I wanted chocolate sauce on top too.  Such a difference!

The chocolate sauce on top was standard chocolate sauce, indistinguishable from Hershey's.  It didn't have a lot of flavor, but I appreciated that there was something on top, since, like every time, the hot fudge was trapped in the bottom.  The fudge was the same as last time, except that it was luke warm this time.  But like always, I had a very hard time getting any until  the end.

The ice cream was actually better this time, it still didn't have any vanilla flavor to it, but it didn't have the strange sourness.

But ... the cookie dough.  It was, quite literally, the worst cookie dough I have ever tasted in my life.  It was dried out beyond belief.  It tasted stale.  It just tasted ... awful.  I don't know how to describe it really, just beyond horrible.  I tried a couple pieces, and then picked them all out.  Or so I thought, forgetting that they nice employee had layered it throughout, so I accidentally got more later on.  Ugh.  It was truly foul!

Would never, ever, ever get this again.  Luckily, in my bag of tricks, I had a banana and other assorted toppings, and turned it into a proper sundae, which I enjoyed.

Hard Ice Cream/Sherbet/Frozen Yogurt

I've tried quite a few flavors of the regular ice cream, and several frozen yogurts.  Most were pretty standard, a few were kinda bad, and a few I really liked.
Mint Chocolate Chip, sugar cone.  $2.19.
For your birthday, you get a free kids size cup or cone.  I went with the mint chocolate chip, without sampling it first, because Ms. Surly looked like she wanted to kill me when I asked to sample one.  Rookie mistake.  It really wasn't very good.  Not creamy, no real mint flavor, even the chocolate bits weren't flavorful.  Really, really mediocre.

The sugar cone was also pretty generic.  Not much to say here.

The ice cream was just plopped on top of the cone.  It would have fallen off with my first lick if I hadn't secured it more properly.

Would not get again, and would have been very sad if I'd paid for this.
America's Birthday Cake, single scoop.  $2.19.
"Strawberries, cake-flavored ice cream, confetti topped cake pieces and blue whipped cream".

Another year, another birthday. I started this post over a year ago, which is crazy!  I returned this year to get my birthday scoop, and this time, went for America's Birthday Cake.  I'd probably never normally get such a silly flavor, but hey, it was free, and it seemed like the most fitting choice, given the circumstance.

Cake and ice cream, very festive, and quite colorful.

Like most of their ice cream, it wasn't creamy, was a bit icy, and kinda tasted stale.  I still don't know if that is just Baskin-Robbins in general, or if it is just this location.  Really just not good ice cream at all.

The "cake" flavored ice cream I actually thought was just plain vanilla, it wasn't until I looked up the description online that I saw it was supposed to taste like cake.  Very unremarkable.  The "strawberries" seemed to just be strawberry ice cream, fake tasting strawberry at that.

There were a few small chunks of vanilla cake mixed in.  I didn't see any promised confetti topping.  The cake wasn't stale tasting, or too hard, but was pretty unremarkable.

The "blue whipped cream" was my favorite component, and the real reason I picked this flavor.  It was sweet, fluffier than the ice cream base, which improved the overall texture.  It reminded me of the whipped cream style icing on Carvel ice cream cakes, which I always had growing up, and still have a weakness for.
Premium Churned Light Orange 'N Crème Ice Cream. $2.19.
"Soak up the sun with this orange light ice cream with a whipped cream flavored ribbon for a new twist on a frozen favorite!"

I didn't actually realize this was a Light version, but the flavor sounded somewhat interesting, at least, compared to my other options.  Baskin Robbins does have some really interesting flavors, but for some reason, my local shop never seems to carry them.  I hoped this would be somewhat like a creamsicle.

It was ridiculously sweet.  I'm not sure if they try to make up for the Light version by adding artificial sweetener or something?  Just way too sweet.  There was very little of the whipped cream ribbon, which is too bad, as I actually liked that, and it helped combat the sweetness of the orange ice cream.

The ice cream itself was fairly fluffy and light, but it was loaded with ice chunks.  Not just ice crystals, but actual chunks.  Sad for a scoop shop to not properly store their ice cream, as the result was just not appealing.

I ordered a single scoop, and got a very large multi scoop serving, which would have been quite nice, if I liked it.
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  • Apple Cinnamon Crisp Ice Cream: "Cinnamon flavored ice cream topped with a sticky brown betty ribbon and packed with tasty apple and oat chunks."  Tasting notes: This was decently creamy, seemed fresh, and had a ton of cinnamon flavor.  There was even little chunks of mushy apple in it. Not bad, but not great. [ This is really quite good.  Its like apple pie and ice cream, all in one!  Great cinnamon flavor, ridiculously sweet brown betty ribbon, but quite good. ] [ Loving this!  Yes, it is very sweet, but it is apple pie in ice cream form!  Kinda amazing.  Love the cinnamon flavor and the brown betty ribbon, oat chunks give some good texture. ] [ So sweet.  Love the gooey caramel swirl. ] [ My favorite of their flavors, by far.  Would gladly get again. ]
  • Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream: "A little bit blue, a lotta bit delicious. Creamy cheesecake flavored ice cream packed with cheesecake bits and swirled around with a blueberry ribbon."  Tasting notes: I didn't taste cheesecake at all, the base seemed pretty plain vanilla.  I also didn't find any cheesecake bits.  The "blueberry ribbon" however was quite generous, which was not a good thing, as it was just sweet and didn't really taste like blueberry.  I really didn't care for this.
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream: "Vanilla flavored ice cream with cookie dough and chocolate flavored chips".  Tasting notes: Standard vanilla ice cream, with chunks of cookie dough.  This cookie dough was much, much better than the inedible stuff from the parfait.  It had a decent buttery flavor and wasn't all dried out.  Pretty standard cookie dough ice cream. [ Something tastes a little stale about this. ] [ Just not interesting.  Vanilla ice cream doesn't have much flavor, it isn't creamy.  There are little chocolate chips and some stale tasting dough.  I don't like this much at all. ]  [ Not creamy, base ice cream very generic, cookie dough bits not that great.  Would not get again. ] [ Just really not very good.  I've had a lot of different cookie dough ice creams, and this one just offers nothing.  The ice cream itself isn't very good, the cookie dough are just tiny chunks and not flavorful.  Meh. ]
  • Nutty Ice Creams
    • Nutty Coconut Ice Cream: "Coconut ice cream mixed with almonds, pecans, and walnuts." Tasting notes: Good coconut flavor, fair amount of nuts.
    • Old Fashioned Butter Pecan Ice Cream: "Butter pecan flavored ice cream with, yep, butter-roasted pecans.".  Tasting notes: Somewhat generic tasting base ice cream, with plentiful whole pecans.  Not particularly remarkable.  Decently creamy.  [ Ok creaminess  I like the whole pecans, ok buttery flavor, not really standout though. Could be any old butter pecan ice cream. ]
    • Pralines 'N Cream Ice Cream: "Praline-coated pecan pieces and caramel in vanilla flavored ice cream."  Tasting notes: Nice sweetness, thick swirl of caramel, pretty good.  Better than Butter Pecan.
    • Black Walnut Ice Cream: "Walnut flavored ice cream with a black walnut explosion." Tasting notes: Decent walnut flavor, but not particularly interesting.
  • Chocolate Ice Creams
    • World Class Chocolate Ice Cream: "Rich white chocolate flavored mousse ice cream swirled with even richer milk chocolate flavored mousse ice cream."  Tasting notes:  Not really sure I get the whole mousse part here.  Nor the white chocolate, mostly just seemed like generic chocolate ice cream and some white ice cream.
    • German Chocolate Cake Ice Cream: "Swiss chocolate ice cream with coconut, walnut pieces, and milk chocolate brownie. Oh and let's not forget the caramel swirl!" Tasting notes: the caramel swirl was nice, good sweetness.  Chocolate ice cream was pretty generic.  Liked the chunks of brownie. [ Big chunks of brownie, nice walnuts.  Yum! ] [ Love the nuts, love the texture from the coconut, great flavors. ] [ Nice coconut flavor, good rich chunks of brownie.  My second favorite of their ice creams. ]  [ Good creamy chocolate ice cream, nice flavor from coconut, plentiful brownie bites. ] [ I like this.  Fairly creamy, mellow chocolate ice cream, with good coconut flavor.  I love discovering the generous chunks of brownie and nuts throughout.  And the caramel swirl adds a little bit of gooeyness to it.  Second favorite flavor. ]
  • Splish Splash Sherbet: "Blue raspberry sherbet and a splash of blueberry sorbet".  Tasting notes: This was really quite good!  It was icy, but in the way that sorbet is.  Overly sweet, but fruity and refreshing.  I love, love, loved blue raspberry Slush Puppies when I was a kid, and it reminds me exactly of that. [ The blue colored one is way too sweet, so if you get some without the other swirl, it can be pretty cloying ] [ You need to be in the mood for sweet with this, but it is somehow refreshing at the same time.  Quite good. ]
  • Frozen Yogurt
    • Raspberry Cheese Louis: "Cheesecake flavored frozen yogurt is sprinkled with raspberry cheesecake pieces and graham crackers with a sweet raspberry ribbon.".  Tasting notes: I didn't taste cheesecake in any way.  Very icy.  Raspberry swirl just sweet.  Didn't like.
    • Sweet N' Salty Frozen Yogurt: "Super smooth salted caramel frozen yogurt and caramel pretzel balls tied up in a salted caramel ribbon bow."  Tasting notes: Just sweet, didn't really get any salt, my sample didn't have any pretzel in it either.


Praline Caramel Ice Cream Cake Bite: Pralines 'n Cream ice cream over white cake, white coating, finished with caramel drizzle and crushed praline pecans.  $2.99.
This is one of their "novelty" items, small versions of their cakes, called cake bites.  Since I wasn't about to buy a whole cake for myself, this seemed like a good way to try out their ice cream cakes.  I grew up having Carvel ice cream cakes for every birthday, so ice cream cake has a special place in my heart.  Of course, Carvel cake is all about the crunchies and the frosting, of which this had neither.

The white cake was not good.  Kinda dry, and very flavorless, with a horrible aftertaste.  Cakes made from boxed cake mix come out better than this.  Not a good base layer.  The ice cream was just their standard Pralines 'n Cream ice cream, good enough I guess, but not really special.  It was covered in "white coating", which I give them credit for not even trying to call white chocolate.  It was kinda just sweet and there.  On top of that was a fairly tasty caramel drizzle and some bits of pecans.  The toppings were the best part.

Yes, this was cake and ice cream, which should be good together, but honestly, it didn't have much going for it.  Wouldn't get again.


Very Berry Strawberry Shake, mini, $3.49.
I've went through a serious milkshake craze.  It had been years since I'd had one, and then I just got hooked.   I had just about every type of shake possible, ranging from ones made in real blenders (like the one at Roxy Cafe that started the trend), to those from shake dispensers at fast food joints (like my free birthday shake from Del Taco), to something in-between (like my shake from Bistro Burger).  But the best was from Holy Grill, made with Mitchel's vanilla ice cream and fresh strawberries.  Even though that one didn't have whipped cream, which I consider to be an important element, it was still the best one I've had flavor-wise.  Quality ice cream and fresh fruit really just makes a big difference!   Every time I've seen strawberry shakes since, I've gotten it, even though I never would normally pick strawberry, hoping to replicate my experience from Holy Grill.  The last one I had was the least successful shake ever, from McDonald's (yes, I should have known better).  That was horrendous.

This one wasn't nearly as bad as the McDonald's shake, but really wasn't very good.  There was no offer of whipped cream, even though I know they have it for making sundaes.  I wish I'd gone out of my way to ask for it, because once I left with it and tried it, it was obvious that it would have really helped out.

It was made in some sort of blender/mixer combo device.  Not quite a classic blender, nor a classic milkshake maker.  The result was not a good consistency.  Mostly, it was just milk, with a few bits that were too thick to suck up.  And then a ton of froth.  The high powered mixer thing just really destroyed the ice cream.  The small amount that stayed frozen melted far too fast.  It wasn't exactly hot out, as I was in San Francisco after all, and I had basically no ice cream or iciness remaining after about 2 minutes.  Very poor execution.  I was really surprised, since I think they sell a lot of shakes, and the machine seemed custom.

Flavor-wise there wasn't much going on.  Slight strawberry flavor, not even in the same ballpark as the one from Holy Grill, but not fake and horrible like the one from McDonald's.  It was at least made with real ice cream, with some bits of strawberry in it, but the addition of all the milk just watered it down.

On the plus side, I had the nicer employee this time.  I also ordered a hand packed pint, which he thoughtfully stashed in a freezer while he made the shake and rang me up.  I really appreciated that extra effort, as it helped my pint not melt as fast for my trip home.

I got the mini size, which was "only" 12 ounces.  $3.49 was actually kinda pricy for this size, more than the 12 ounce mini I got from Bistro Burger for $2.99 and just slightly less than the $3.99 large sizes I got many other places.  Certainly not worth the price, would no get again.
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