Okay, so I know I said I’d update the flog on Sunday. My bad. It’s been a hectic week back at college. Everyone’s declaring their major, and I’m off daydreaming about Gran Marnier Soufflés. Hrm…
ANYWAYS, I went to Berryline and JP Licks to see how they compared to Spün. After much rumination and finger-licking, I’ve decided that there is indeed one fro-yo to rule them all, one fro-yo to bind them, one fro-yo to bring them all and in the darkness bind them. Ok, I’ll stop. Sorry for that. If you just want the quick summary, skip all the writing and photos and scroll to the bolded part at the end. I won’t judge you.
So last Wednesday I decided to try out Spün, the new frozen yogurt store in Powderhouse Square. The froyo was good, but I wanted to compare it to the other options here in Boston.
The first challenger was Boston’s preeminent ice cream parlor, J.P. Licks. I’ve had their ice cream more times than I probably should; however, I’ve never really bothered to try their froyo. Licks has a real stranglehold on the Tufts community, so they are probably Spün’s biggest rival.
JP Licks famously offers a myriad of inventive and scrumptious flavors. Some are pretty generic (cow tracks→moose tracks and Cherry Garcia→Cherry Garciaparra Ortiz), but even these staple ice cream options taste great. The real enjoyment, for me at least, is checking out the monthly flavors. This month Licks is featuring Fresh Avocado ice cream and sweet roasted red pepper sherbet. Whenever I’m craving some fresh new flavor or just the perfect cake batter ice cream, I hit up JP Licks.
Don't let this picture fool you... it wasn't that good.
I wish I could speak as highly of their frozen yogurt. The plain flavor, YoTango, was disappointingly bland. That tanginess was noticeably absent. The froyo wasn’t as creamy as Spün’s. JP Licks in Davis offers 4 flavors at a time, which is more than either competitor. My options—Coffee, YoTango, and two sugar-free versions of chocolate and coffee. I should mention that I’ve had their cookies and cream frogurt before and I remember enjoying that.
Licks didn't offer discounts on multiple toppings... lame
JP Licks had a large selection of toppings—both wet and dry—but I wasn’t as impressed with the freshness of the fruit. The blackberries and whole strawberries didn’t inspire much confidence. The strawberries and peaches were floating about in what looked like that canned syrup. What a far cry from those bulging varieties over at Spün! They did ask whether I wanted my fruit diced or whole, which seemed like a very logical question. Perhaps other places should look into this…
The cost of my small froyo with two toppings was a whopping $6.22! The yogurt set me back a $4 and the two toppings totaled more than $2 (fruit topping=$1.25, while most other toppings were 95¢). This was absurdly expensive! Here’s the problem. JP Licks uses the same pricing model for ice cream that they do for froyo. Most people I know don’t bother getting toppings with their JP Lickings. After all, the oreo cake batter already has oreo in it. And what would you possibly want to add to a Roasted Red Pepper Sherbet? If people get toppings, they get just one or so. With Froyo, it’s totally commonplace to get several. It’s a different game, and should be treated as such.
The other issue was the staff was slightly impersonal. I’m sure that this had to do with the constant flow of customers. But compared to the friendly and talkative owners over at Spün, these workers seemed just a little too business-like for ice cream.
What did Licks get right? They used a larger sized bowl, which allowed the toppings to comfortably surround the center spiral. This stands in stark contrast to Spün where the froyo filled the entire cup and the toppings had to cling precipitously to the side.
No wonder they don't give froyo a shoutout on the bowl
I left duly unimpressed with JP’s froyo. My friend had ordered a small ice cream and boy was I jealous. I suppose it’s hard to be a renaissance frozen dessert parlor. JP Licks is still my main choice for ice cream, but they are the last place I’d go to for Froyo.
The third and final place I visited was Berryline. Of the three Berryline locations, I went to the recently built Porter Square shop. They say it’s in Porter square, but it’s a good ten-minute walk from those goofy red windmills.
The frogurt at Berryline was very good. They definitely have the best variety of flavors. These options rotate—my options were original, mango, and basil. Upon sampling the basil, I decided to play it safe and order a mango/original swirl. Not the basil flavor was bad; it was actually pretty good—reminiscent of a pesto cream sauce. Kudos to them for busting out a savory froyo flavor. That takes some cajones.
The mango froyo was a little too subtle; I wish it had a more pronounced flavor. The plain was good, probably on par with Spün, which is to say that it was vastly superior to JP Licks. Size-wise, the serving for a small was probably the same. The difference is that Berryline’s workers weigh out each froyo—5oz for a small, 8 for a medium, and 12 for a large. This uniformity seemed perfectly logical. After all, how many times have you gone to your favorite ice cream shop only to be handed an underscooped sundae by a stingy worker! While this does erase the possibility of the rare magnanimous scooper, I think the pros outweigh the cons. The reasonable prices (the same as Spün’s) made the trip as pleasing to my wallet as it was to my tummy.
Kiwi and Strawberry-flavored Moshi
The toppings at Berryline took the cake. They bested Spün in quantity with at least 25 different options (both wet and dry), and their fruit was fresher than Licks. They also carry something called “Moshi” (pronounced Moe-She). I asked the walking coloring book (i.e. the heavily tattooed employee) behind the counter to enlighten me. Moshi is a Japanese rice cake that has a consistency somewhere in between marshmallows or gummi-bears. I had some put in my froyo, and to my pleasant surprise they kept their texture! So often toppings change when put in frozen desserts—fruit begins to freeze, gummi-bears and Swedish fish begin to harden. The Moshi was refreshingly different after all these ho-hum attempts to accessorize my frogurt.
So to sum up…
+4 different flavors
+Lots of topping options
–unremarkable flavor (YoTango)
–Astronomically high price
–By comparison, the fruit toppings weren’t as good
+Best toppings (Freshest and best variety)
–Comparatively few topping options (no wet toppings)
–Only two flavors
I find the winner to be Berryline! Granted, if you’re craving ice cream, then get your ass over to JP Licks. Or the Chilly Cow–just make sure to order the frozen custard. It’s not as good as St. Louis Frozen Custard, but it’s the best I can do.