Sunday, July 27, 2008

U of M DQ - Washington and Oak St. - $1.69

If I was going to the University of Minnesota, I'd eat my meals at Bona Vietnamese, and have dessert at DQ a block away on Washington.  For those who cannot tell, I like the DQ.

This is a no frills DQ--just a place to stand to give your order, maybe one or two tables, and that's about it.  When I ordered, The music was loud and appropriately alternative, most likely channeling The Current.  The workers were cleaning stuff up and took a few moments before they noticed me.  In the meantime, I noticed that they served personal-sized DQ cakes.  This is a magical idea.  Keep the gel frosting off it and I'm buying one regularly.

I ordered my usual small cone ($1.69) and watched the server lady make my cone.  The cone machine sputtered out white fluff.  My cone ended up being the oddest shape:

The Cone Artist asked if I wanted my mal-formed cone or if she could try again.  I took the mal-formed cone because it was funny looking and wanted to take a picture.  It was a pretty bad cone--too fluffy.  In talking to my father about my reviews, he said he doesn't like when the ice cream doesn't seem cold--that's what was going on here.  There was not enough moisture content for the appropriate chill.  I don't know why this happens, but I'd prefer it didn't.

Still, If I were a U of M student, I'd give them a second chance to do things right.

Small vanilla cone: $1.69
Medium: $1.99
Large: $2.29

Monday, July 21, 2008

DQ on HWY 55 near HWY169 - $1.79

Hwy 55 East of Hwy 169 in Golden Valley

Maybe because it was a seriously hot day, or maybe because it was a weekend and I really like weekends, but The Dairy Queen on Hwy 55 in Golden Valley in the little strip mall near the Pancheros and the Starbucks had some excellent ice cream cones.  Both Wife Sally and I commented how it may have been the best cone we've had.

I've reviewed 19 stores since May, and sometimes I go to DQ just for fun and not review at all.  It takes a really good cone for me to say, "This is a really good cone."

What made it so good? I don't know because I don't know how they are made.  But it was dense--something I appreciate on a hot day.  It wasn't too marshmellowy nor icey.  I was a good enough size to not feel cheated.

I have not been to any strip mall DQs before.  I know there is one by the U of M, but that review is coming later.  I like how they look.  Lots of metal and white walls.  Some DQ's, like the Crystal Grill and Chill, go for a nostalgia with old photos of old DQs.  The metal and white layout is a nice change of pace and gives me the chance to pretend that I am having a small vanilla cone in the future, but far enough in the future that its retro design gives the feel of 2008.

Small Vanilla Cone: $1.79 (Ouch.  A little pricey)
Medium: $2.09
Large: $2.39
Peanut Buster Parfait: $4.09
$10.36 Aggregate cost

And When you are done with your cone, head down the road a couple blocks to the National Camera Exchange.  You won't be sorry for long!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

DQ Double Post: Fridley and Excelsior/Hwy 100 - $1.69

(Read the end of this post for follow up reviews for the Heights Theatre and W 7th St in St. Paul)

Both the Fridley and the Excelsior Ave DQ stores have the same price for their core items:

Small vanilla cone: $1.69
Medium: $2.19
Large: $2.59
Peanut Buster Parfait: $4.19
Aggregate: $10.66

Both of these stores are also the fancy DQ Grill and Chills. I went to Fridley first. This store is on Osborne Road between East River Rd and Central Ave. The main thing it has going for it is that all of the outside picnic tables are in the shade in a grassy area--That's how you want to eat your Dairy Queen cone!

The prices are a bit high, but I am now expecting that from my Grill and Chills (Though you should still notice that the most expensive DQ reviewed so far is the stand-alone shop in Robbinsdale).

The cone was average, which is to say "Excellent."  but there was nothing remarkable about it.  It wasn't too small or too large, too icy or to fluffy.  Just a good ice cream cone.

The Excelsior Ave (Hwy 3) Store is next to the strip mall just East of Hwy 100.  It's a fancy Grill and Chill.  It seems fancier than some of the others.  Their outside area was in a fenced off section of the parking lot, which is fine, but picnic tables in the grass is better, no?

They had a huge line the whole time I was there.  They must be doing something right.

I broke with my tradition of getting a small cone and instead got a chocolate sundae. Wife Sally got the caramel sundae.  Do you people have any idea how sweet a caramel sundae is?   I could not tolerate it.  The chocolate sundae was good and had a base of fine quality ice cream.

At this point I have been eating enough DQ cones now that I know when a cone meets or fails to meet the standard for DQ cones (as determined by me).  I love DQ cones and am usually quite pleased with what is served to me.  

I also know that there are a lot of factors which go into making a good cone.  Watch for future posts with a former DQ employee for the inside scoop.  I also know that any store can have an off day.
For instance, the highly rated W 7th St. Paul DQ received high marks this spring for their awesome cone; this weekend, my cone there was much too soft and they would have received low marks this time around.

For another instance, The pooooorrrrrlllyy rate Heights DQ on Central Ave previously served me a cone that barely meet the criteria for being a cone, it was so mushy, let alone the criteria for a DQ cone.  But this weekend they served my up an excellent cone with friendly service to me and the people in front of me.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Highland Park-Ford Parkway - $1.69 sm cone

This DQ Grill and Chill is pretty new. It used to be a really skanky Burger King where I once got sick off a bad Whopper Jr. Now, it is a beautiful Dairy Queen store. It even has a flat screen TV showing the baseball game. They have the Orange Julius here, too. Plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, and it has a drive-thru. Off to a good start, but then they stumble.

The place where you order, and the place where you pick up your order is, basically, the same corner of the restaurant. People stand around wondering if they are in line or if they are hanging out with the people waiting for their orders. A simple velvet rope to keep people to one side when they come in would help.

Also, the kitchen seemed too small for the number of people in it. They should do something about that, too.

Small vanilla cone: $1.69
medium: $2.19
Large: $2.59
Peanut Buster Parfait: $4.19
Chocolate soft serve? Yes
Aggregate Cost: $10.66 

Cone size was average--just like the picture on the wall of the small cone, actually. Fine. I'll accept an average cone, but the whole idea behind this blog is to find the best deals. Highland Park DQ is not it.

The cone had good flavor, nicely balanced between icy and marshmellowy. When I finished eating I felt it was a satisfying cone experience.

What I suggest you do when here, and every DQ, is see if they have the 2for$3/3 for $4/4 for $5 meal specials, which are great if you are making your own combo meal, but even better if two or more of you are there for an ice cream cone.

I forgot to get the price of the small chocolate dipped cone, but I am sure it was at least $2.09. With the 2 for $3 special, you can save over $.50 on each cone.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

2612 Hwy 88 - St. Anthony Village DQ

Hwy 88 DQ on my phone

This review was a special request from one of my readers, and I am glad to say that this DQ was a good find.  Mainly because it is an interesting looking Dairy Queen.   It is in the middle of a stripmall parking lot and has a concrete fence around its own patio area forming a little DQ oasis.  There are plenty of tables and seems to get plenty of business.

Small Vanilla Cone: $1.39
Medium: $1.89
Large: $2.19
Peanut Buster Parfait: $3.79
Aggregate: $9.26
Chocolate Ice cream? Yes

Prices for the small and large cone are better than average.  The medium cone is average in price, as is the PBP.  The cone had the good marshmellowy taste that I look for and was the normal size.

Service was a bit odd.  They had a lot of staff working--because it is a busy place--by since they are all teenagers, there was a bit of dickin around when hey should have been taking orders.  Amusing to watch, but service could have been faster.

A new thing I am making note of is whether or not the Dairy Queen has chocolate soft serve. Wife Sally loves it.  I think it takes like the shakes they offered as a lunch alternative at my high school.  The Hwy 88 St. Anthony DQ DOES have chocolate soft serve, and that's good to know.

(Don't confuse this DQ with 409 Old Hwy 8, review to come)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Lexington and University - St. Paul

Such sadness and disappointment.  I was saving my review of this St. Paul store since it has always been one of my favorites.  When I worked in St. Paul, I went there all the time.  It is, after all, across the street from White Castle.

I was one friendly terms with the owner who knew of my love of chocolate dipped cones.  Prices were good and it was never as busy as the Snelling Ave DQ.  I bet that in the 4 years since I've worked near there, the store is owned by someone else.

The two teenagers working the store were tattooed and pierced (not that I have anything against that).  And they had the attitude.  After waiting at the window for 5 minutes, I poked my head in and one of them snarked, "I'm making somethin', I'll be right with you."  The other girl was just standing there.  Maybe she didn't even work there.  I can't say.

Also, I saw this totally blinged out dude who let me cut in line,  He was wearing a fake Rolex that was so cheap it didn't even have a back on it.  It was fabulous!

Topping it off, the cone was crappy like the Heights DQ was crappy.  It was extra whipped, too fluffy and could barely support itself under its own weight.  It melted immediately and nearly totally.  I had to scarf it down before it dripped away.  Sure, it is 80 degrees out today, but it is no excuse!  Make a good cone, dang it.

Small Vanilla Cone: $1.49
medium: $1.89
Large: $2.29

Skip this one.  No need to have a bad DQ experience.