Summer Haze

This or That: Frozen Yogurt Edition

 

I can fight it no longer, Fall has arrived and the lazy (hot!) days of summer are behind us.  I figured this would be a good time to wrap up the self-journey I went on this past season to find the perfect Frozen Yogurt place in the Northern Virginia area.  I have always been a FroYo girl, not sure why that is but there is something about the sweet tartness of yogurt that really speaks to me.  I have tried various container/grocery store yogurts but none of them have ever come close to replicating that incredibleness of fresh yogurt.  Needless to say I’m thrilled with the wave of new yogurt stores opening up across the nation and have done my best to go to as many as possible.  This list will just take in to consideration stores in the No. VA area that I have been able to visit on more that one occasion in order to insure that I got a good sampling of what the store offers.  I rated stores based on taste, toppings, price and customer service.

  1. Sweet Frog – I don’t think my waist line has quite forgiven me for finding out about this gem of a yogurt shop.  Not only do they have an insane selection of flavors ranging from an incredible original tart to a sinful red velvet, they also have a crazy number of toppings.  The prices are also the best in the area since you pay by the ounce, and when compared to other per ounce stores they are lower by about ten cents (which can add up).   The only down side I found is that they are not nut-allergy friendly, or at least as allergy friendly as they could be.  The only behind the counter option they had were bananas, everything else ran the risk of cross contamination due to the buffet set-up.  Their customer service was also above and beyond, and the store was insanely clean for the number of kids enjoying the topping buffet.
  2. Pinkberry – Options, options, options…if you can think of it chances are Pinkberry can deliver.  For the more traditional yogurt eaters like myself they offer a wonderfully tart original flavor that can be topped with as many toppings as fit in the cup for one price.  They also offer delicious smoothies, they while on the pricey side, blow most of the local smoothie places out of the water.  I also enjoyed how fresh the fruit was, it was clear that everything had been spared been frozen which is always a great treat.   The service is also incredible, the staff was very energetic and quick to answer any and all questions.  They also have peanut safe toppings, and the dry toppings were well partitioned from the fruit toppings.  I also noticed that the servers were great at making sure spoons and such didn’t go wandering around.  Overall great experience and great yogurt, and for those seeking many toppings their pricing structure is the best.
  3. Yogen Fruz – Very basic, very simple, very tasty.  If you are looking for basic yogurt with fruit toppings, this is probably the place for you.  While I wish the original flavor was slightly more tart, the quality of the fruit toppings made it easy to overlook.  The price is on the higher side, but to be fair I was in a very pricey area so the price works for this location.  The customer service as this location was slightly lacking, there were available for questions and paying which is what matters.
  4. Iceberry – It was tough deciding between this one and the next in regards to worst experience, in the end the yogurt was the deciding factor.  Iceberry offers a decent basic yogurt flavor, slightly on the sweet side but not that bad.  However every time I visited it was clear that the fruit had been frozen and re-frozen which is not something I like seeing.  The prices were alright, they offer a pay for ounce as well as a set price mix in option which is nice however given the quality of the toppings the prices did not seem justified.  I also didn’t enjoy that the employees spent more time talking among themselves about beer (?) then they did helping the customers.  At one point four of us were waiting to pay while the three employees chatted about 1 ft from the register.
  5. Cultured – I really wanted the locally owned/operated (organic!) store to be number 1, and was hoping that the problems with my first cup wouldn’t be present in my second cup.  However that was not to be the case.  While this yogurt has a great authentic tart taste, it is way way way too icey.  I felt like I was eating an Italian Ice-style yogurt, and that wasn’t a very pleasant experience.  The customer service is incredible and the have a great selection of toppings but the quality of the yogurt is just not there.  I’ll admit that both visits were later in the day, so it’s possible that this is a place to visit before dinner, however I can’t overlook the crunch I got in my yogurt.
I originally was going to give points for allergy safe practices, but realized that with the self-serve method popular at most of these stores it’s really not possible.  The only solution would be keeping some toppings behind the counter, handled only by employees which defeats the idea of self-served yogurt.  There are still a few more places I want to check out, namely Red Mango, but I think I had a successful summer.