Saturday, June 28, 2008

Heights Theatre DQ and 38th St and 13th Ave S - Double Review

This week I went to two DQs that were mentioned in a post by Gugeo.  A couple commenters said that their favorite DQs were not reviewed yet.  I got right on it.

I have not been to the walk up DQ in South Mpls at 38th and 13th.  I can see why people like this DQ--it's in the middle of a residential neighborhood, lots of table seating, and the prices are cheap!

38th and 13th Ave - 3747 13th Ave S
Small Cone: $1.29
Medium: $1.69
Large: $1.89
Peanut Buster Parfait: $3.49

All prices are well below average.  Only the Blaine (Hwy 65) store is lower at the time of this review ($1.19).

The cones were average in size and average in flavor.  I was hoping that it would have that perfect marshmellowy flavor I a looking for so this store could be cheap and perfect.  I was annoyed by some teenagers at the table next to me, but I am sure that they are their all the time.

As an odd note, Wife Sally's ice cream in a dish was not as large as how the other stores make them, though it seemed the equivalent to the small cone, like it should. Sally thought her ice cream tasted funny.  My cone was fine.  This is just the excuse I need to return for a second review.

Review #2: Central Ave and 37th N,next to the Heights Theatre.

There is certainly an appeal to this DQ as well.  It is owned by the people who own the Heights Theatre, which is probably the most beautiful in the twin cities.  It is a single screen theater and they have a Wurlitzer Organ that they use to play instead of "the 20."  They do silent pics here, too, because of the organ, and even 72 millimeter print showings of Lawrence of Arabia.  Best of all, you can take your Peanut Buster Parfait into the theater with you!

Small cone: 1.59
Medium: $1.79
Large: $1.99
PBP: $3.49

Totally average prices.  They can get really busy around show times, so plan accordingly. 

Here is the catch--------------My small cone was the Worst Cone I have ever had.  This cone was the largest small cone, perhaps even the size of a large cone, but it was completely shapeless.  It was shapeless, perhaps, because it was more like whipped milk rather than iced milk.  The ice cream was so fluffy that it could barely maintain a cone-like shape.  The first attempt at making me a cone flew onto the floor when the server moved to fast.

Side by side with any other Dairy Queen cone and you was have guessed it came from some know-nothing competitor.  Heights DQ should be embarrassed.

I ate my cone, though.  For the sake of research.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Blaine - The Lowest Price Small Cone! - $1.19

The Blaine DQ is on Hwy 65, North of Hwy 10. It is by Aquator Park where all of my little league tournaments were played. Because of this, this is where I had all of my last game DQs that the coach would by for the team. Nothing but good memories at this DQ.

Now I have another reason to return to this DQ--Small Cone: $1.19!!!!!!!!!!

This is the lowest cone price I have found so far.

Small $1.19
Medium: $1.49
Large: $1.99
PBP: $3.39

This is also the lowest aggregate cost at $8.06 for 1 each.

The only down-side is that the cone was smaller than usual. It falls into the cheapskate category, but might be the place to go if you have smaller children who can't eat as much or if you want fewer calories. (I'm Mr. Brightside today).

This DQ has plenty of inside seating. It is one of those stores that looks like a barn. It has a drive through and the staff is friendly.

One thing to note: Take a look at the sign in the picture...It is not symmetrical like the other DQs I know about. Does anyone else know of a DQ like this?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mike Doughty Loves Soft Serve

Mike Doughty and Aaron Arntz at Taste of Randolph St

This weekend I was in Chicago to see the in-laws and check out the Taste of Randolph Street, which featured a performance by Mike Doughty, formerly of Soul Coughing. Mike Doughty is awesome. My wife, Sally, interviewed him for a Pulse Magazine cover story a year or two ago and he seemed like a swell guy. We saved his voice mail message on the phone for about 6 months before we gave up the landline.

Though this weekend was a complete bust for any Illinois DQ for a interstate review, Doughty makes into the DQ blog because during his show he played the Soul Coughing tune, Soft Serve.  (Link to youtube video of a recent performance.  He screws up the words in this one but totally charms the audience with how he recovers).

Let me say a couple things about how awesome a Mike Doughty Show is.  1) So Funny: He performed just down the street from Oprah's Harpo Studios, and had the funniest rant about his failed love affair with Oprah and how she kept buying him cars to show her love, but that it was not what he wanted from her.  2) Consistently awesome songwriting.  He could have played a totally different 90 minute show and the gig would have been just as great. 3) New keyboard player, at least for this show--Aaron Arntz.  4)Fake Last Song, where instead of leaving the stage before an encore, the band turns their back on the crowd and stands there for a few minutes, acting surprised that the fans would want to hear more music.   Check out Mike's blog for his take on the Taste of Randolph event.

Edina - Training Store?

The Edina DQ is my home-away-home DQ. 77th and Hwy 100, north of 494. It is walking distance from my office so it often gets my business. I would guess that DQ gets at least $30 per day from the people in my 20 person office. I've got some coworkers who go there everyday for breakfast!

The breakfast looks pretty good--bacon and eggs and all that. I can't do fast food breakfast, though. I'm not at liberty to explain why at this time.

But I do get their cones, though.

Small vanilla cone: $1.79--Just about the priciest in the system, that I know of.
Medium: $2.19
Large: $2.69

PBF: $3.79

Edina is the faciest store I know of. It is a Grill and Chill and has lots of inside seating. It is also 1 block from International DQ Headquarters. This is the sort of store where you order, get a number and they bring you the food at your table. My first time there was after my job interview--They forgot about me and I didn't get my food for a half hour. I got a free meal gift cert for that one.

Service here is hit or miss, I assume because it seems to be a training store. Half the time, a manager is waiting on my, though, which means the service is a bit better.

Cone size is inconsistent (Should I call it In-Cone-Sistent)? My theory is that everyone here is new and a bit shy on the cone machine. I can get the tiniest cone or even a huge cone. I cannot predict.

My most recent cone was average in size, served by a very friendly person and purchased by my coworker, Yee, who is a bit giddy to be leaving the job and the country to begin a new life in a strange land. Taste and consistency was perfect. But I am gonna add again--Any reason why a small cone needs to cost this much?

Of special note, they have specials--4 for $5. 3 for $4, 2-$2. An excellent deal if shopping in a group. They have food from the different food groups to choose from and it includes dipped cones and sundaes for the ice cream offerings. Make sure to check this out.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Snelling Ave - St. Paul

2 DQs in one weekend. It must really be summer. Judging from the crowd at the Snelling Ave DQ in St. Paul, I think it is.

There is no denying that this is a popular DQ. It is on a high-traffic street and in the middle of a residential neighborhood. There is lots of seating and it is across the street from Cheapo's. What more could one want? Slightly lower prices for one...

Take notice that I added a new segment to the right side of the blog - Average Cost. I put the cost for sm/med/lg cones, plus Peanut Buster Parfaits into a spreadsheet and did some averaging. Later, I'll have Wife Sally help me determine standard deviations and such. She just took a statistics class.

Based on these averages, the Snelling DQ is above average in cost in every category. The aggregate cost of the items reviewed is $9.68, while here at Snelling DQ the aggregate cost is $10.16.

There is a tie for the Lowest Aggregate Cost--W. 7th in DT St. Paul and Lowry Ave in NE Mpls at $8.98. Awesome!

But in regards to my experience at Snelling DQ, it was great. The cone was slightly larger than average and it was a perfect consistency.

Robert St and Butler - W St Paul

Sally (l) and Barbara (r)
I did not need a cone from here today. I had just finished gorging myself at a BBQ for Barbara Moore who quit a job to work freelance only. There's a goal, now, isn't it?

This Dairy Queen makes me think of a friend from college who was working here when she found out she had diabetes. Not a good place to work when you have diabetes. She quit.

This is an excellent DQ. The area where you order can be open to the street or closed, depending on the weather, the prices are reasonable, and they were adequately staff. The girl who waited on me was pretty, so that's always nice.

Small Vanilla Cone: $1.59
Medium: $189
Large: $2.09
Peanut Buster Parfait: $3.88

This is an average price for a small cone. The cone was a bit mis-shaped, but it was the perfect marshmellowy flavor that I look for. I noticed that on the ice cream machine there was a chart which showed how big cones were supposed to be at different sizes. Each jump in size is a 2oz increase in ice cream.

At this DQ, they charge $.31 for each ounce in a 5 oz small cone. For 2 oz more (7 oz total), you get a medium cone for the cost of $.27/oz. The 9 oz large cone is only $.23/oz.

Anyway, there is plenty of seating at picnic tables, and they even have a drive-thru. If you are thinking of having food here, don't! Not because the food here is bad, but because there is a dive-restaurant called JT's just a block or two south of this DQ on Robert St. The best hotdogs and fries on the strip. Definitely worth checking out; an old dude in a paper food service have will make you a Coney Island Dog and you will have to order a second one when you are done with the first. Trust me.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Minnehaha - SE MPLS

The DQ on the NW corner of Minnehaha Park in SE Mpls is a classic. Perfect location. Who could resist a bike ride down by the Falls without stopping at the DQ on your way home? I cannot imagine who this person would be...

I consider this to be a destination DQ where you can plan a day out with the family with DQ as the highlight. There is an awesome dog park on the river just south of the DQ as well.

The store itself does not have indoor seating but plenty of room inside to accommodate a long line trying to get out of the heat. Outside there are 8-10 concrete picnic tables, which is more seating than I have found at any DQ yet.

Small vanilla cone: $1.49
medium: $1.99
Large: $2.39

Peanut Buster Parfait: $3.59

The small cone is the best value here. It is a significant price jump to medium--$.50--for another 3 oz of icecream? Crazy. The price for the small cone, though is less than average.

Size of the cone was small to average. It was a narrow cone, which typically bugs me. There is plenty of cone shelf to hold more ice cream it should be used. It was slightly ice, but still overall a marshmellowy flavor. Something was missing, though. Its flavor was muted. I have not experienced this lack of flavor in a cone before, so I will have to be on the lookout in the future.

Service was servicable. Not much to making a cone and handing it to me. It wasn't crowded on this sunny day.