Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Restaurant Review - Menchie's Frozen Yogurt, 7339 W. Sand Lake Road, #406, Orlando, FL

Menchie's Frozen YogurtMenchie’s Frozen Yogurt, located on Sand Lake Road’s “Restaurant Row”, is a fun, interactive dessert store. It is do-it-yourself with simple instructions: Fill your bowl with frozen yogurt. Top with snacks and candies and sauces. Weigh. Then pay. For 44 cents an ounce, you can get what you want, in the quantity you want. The concept is brilliant. The staff just makes sure the toppings are kept filled up and then monitor the scale as Pick Your Flavorscustomers finish their creations and weigh and pay.

Don’t worry if there is a crowd milling about inside. Remember, this is do-it-yourself. So, step right up, grab a bowl, and start pouring your frozen yogurt. There are 12 flavors every time, with only chocolate and vanilla staying the same, as far as I could tell. With more than 40 different flavors, including seasonal offerings like pumpkin and eggnog, rotating constantly, you will find a different variety available almost every time you visit. At the “Snackage” bar, where the dry toppings reside, are about 30 different types of add-ins, including nuts (peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans), candies (Reese’s Pieces, chocolate chips, yogurt chips, Jelly Bellies, M&M, Snow Caps, Gummy Bears, Rainbow Nerds, etc), cereals (Cap’n Crunch, Lucky Charms, Fruity Pebbles, Cocoa Pebbles, etc.) anSnackage Bard other toppings like coconut flakes, granola, and graham cracker crumbs. At the “Chill” bar, are freshly cut fruits such as strawberry slices, maraschino cherries, mango, kiwi, bananas, pineapple, as well as the decadent stuff such as mini-peanut butter cups, cookie dough balls, mini-cheesecake bits, and even mochi, a sticky Japanese confectioChill barn. Finally, there is the “Hotties” sauce bar with caramel, chocolate, peanut butter sauce, and hot fudge, as well as marshmallow sauce and non-dairy whipped topping.

On our first visit, I tried both the Pralines ‘n’ Cream and Pistachio frozen yogurt flavors and thought they made a great combination. I added pecans, coconut flakes, mini-cheesecake bites, and then topped that off with caramel sauce. BB was happily moving along, getting his yogurt and toppings while I helped LB put the yogurt flavors he wanted into his cup. By the time we reached the scale to weigh our creations, I glanced over and noticed my older son’s cup was completely filled to the top with yogurt and toppings. Oh dear, I should have been watching more closely. I had the staff weigh his separately from ours and, as I suspected, he had passed the pound mark! Yep, at 44 cents an ounce, he was looking at a $7.80 cup of dessert. The real test was, did he finish it? Of cYep, that's a pound of dessert!ourse not! Luckily, Menchie’s has lids to place on your creation so you can take it home if you want.

Next time, I walked in and was shocked to find that most of the flavors had changed and my Pralines ‘n’ Cream AND Pistachio were gone. After a moment, I realized this was probably a good thing so I could try some of the other flavors and I would not be stuckMuch better quantity in a rut getting the same flavors every single time. This time, I did a Cookies ‘n’ Cream and Cheesecake swirl (if two flavors are in the same machine, you can do a swirl), and then added some of the French Vanilla flavor. I also added some different toppings, trying peanuts this time, Snow Caps, and strawberry slices.

You can also try tastes of the different flavors first with the provided mini paper cups. This is actually a pretty good idea. I did not try the Cappucino flavor before I added it to my cup and when I was eating it later, it had a very strong coffee taste (it should have been called Espresso instead). So definitely taste-test if you are not sure what a flavor will taste like.

This visit, I watched BB like a hawk, and stopped him several times by the yogurt machines as I saw him place too much of each flavor in his cup. I also had to watch him at the toppings bar as I discovered he was putting scoop after scoop of chocolate chips into his bowl. “Hey, this is a yogurt shop, not a candy store!”

LB was more adventurous than I thought, trying more than just chocolate and vanilla and venturing to the Irish Mint and the Cheesecake flavors, though his favorite was Cookies ‘n’ Cream. This time, all of our creations came out to around $15 total , putting us closer to the 10-12 ounces per cup mark.

This is currently the only Menchie’s location in Florida, although another is planned for Fort Lauderdale. The shopping area it is in has several other restaurants so parking can be tight. However, there are “30 minutes or less” parking spots right in front. Menchie’s has already become a habit with us and I look forward to going every couple of weeks, especially to discover the new flavors in store for us.

Website: http://www.menchies.com/

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