Restaurant Review of Baskin Robbins Ice Cream, Sandy Springs
I know it’s kind of weird to do a restaurant review of Baskin Robbins Ice Cream. It’s like rating McDonalds or the restrooms at TJ Maxx. Aren’t they all exactly alike? Actually no, they are not. Sure, everyone has their own dessert preferences. One son of mine is a self-professed Yogli Mogli Man and craves going there just to ask the same quasi- rhetorical question. While picking up the extra large serving bowl which rivals a large popcorn container in size and diameter, he intones, ” Who the heck is going to use this? This would cost more then filling my car up!” He also points out how Yogli Mogli cleverly stations its extra employee near the highly proprietary ice cream machines to “assist” people in selecting free samples, which is about the same thing as posting a large sign saying, “Dont steal. We are watching you.” Since the place is owned and operated by Israelis it’s surprising they dont have a Predator drone flying overhead to reinforce the point. Still, I happen to like their version of soft serve and their large selection of fresh toppings which almost always add enough paying weight to take the bill well over $20 for a family of four…… Anyway, I digress as usual.
I really am writing this to lodge a specific complaint. The closest Brusters in Sandy Springs appears to have closed recently. What? Why? In the summer time Brusters is a great place to stand in line and sweat profusely behind several large families with hyperactive kids and assorted teenagers asking to try this or that, please. Their ice cream is good, their serving size plentiful and the many specials like Key Lime Pie with graham cracker crust yummy. By default I ended up escorting the ice cream craving girlfriend to Baskin Robbins on Hammond Drive for the first time. Shlepping to Coldstone Creamery across from Target Perimeter seemed not only a stoplight with perpetual traffic too far as well as an unnecessarily long wait while they do their hocus pocus Coldstone ritual. Am I the only one that doesn’t really care that they “smash and smoosh” and knead and mix the ice cream for like 5 minutes on their supposedly microbe resistent cold counters while I am having a major munchies attack? If I’m not busy tapping my toes at Coldstone in frustration and impatience, I’m normally obsessing about picking up some strange disease like an ice cream loving strain of MRSA or Legionnaires disease while they wave their ice cream scoops and shovels around like lower tier sous chefs at Benihana’s. At least at Benihana’s I could be slurping down a stiff tropical drink or gorging myself on an edamame appetizer or that molten lava onion volcano thing. So instead, I’m back at good old Baskin Robbins, the quaint little ice cream place of my childhood in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, circa 1968 to 1970. Will it be the same as way back when? Will I be able to get a nice reliable cone of average tasting ice cream, maybe strawberry or vanilla, not unlike Pat Nixon’s “perfectly respectable cloth coat” which Tricky Dick shamelessly used to sell us on his “man of the people” image. Riiiight…we now know how that turned out, and my Baskin Robbins experience wasn’t too different.
The place trades heavily on its name and brand recognition, not on it’s product. The store in Sandy Springs is lovely and has a second floor loft for no apparent reason or purpose. Maybe they have parties up there but I didnt see anybody or hear any screaming kids high on cake and cookies. The prices for what you get are too high. It’s not our fault you got sucked into the City Walk hype that has left many stores vacant or begging for business. The ice cream cakes approached $40. When I say my single scoop of ice cream was one little scoop I mean it, and it was a piddly sized ball at that, like they are possibly using the miniature plastic scoop from my sister’s 1968 Susie Homemaker Toy kitchen. In fact, I wonder if they are making the ice cream using the Retro Susie Homemaker Ice Cream maker too because: 1) they were practically out of half their ice cream selections and 2) the stuff that was left was full of ice particles and about as bland as could be. I realize if I wanted gourmet gelato I could have flown to Florence..or Whole Foods. I also admit we did arrive rather late and they could have been low on stock, but still, I was unimpressed and shed a tear for Brusters and my beloved Key Lime Pie ice cream. It takes alot to screw up strawberry ice cream, but somehow they did. Finally, the young lady with deer in the headlights eyes who served us seemed overwhelmed and over her head. Asking for a “plain” sugar cone sent her into a flurry of confused action. She appeared scared to death when her first two attempts to retrieve a cone from the bottom of the cardboard carton labeled CONES were fruitless, or cone-less to be exact. Come on honey, we arent at the bottom of the Marianas Trench in a submersible with Jacque Cousteau trying to snag rare sea life off the ocean floor…..get back in there and reach a little farther down! Finally her ungloved hand, like the robot arm on the Calypso was successful and she produced two bent looking cones, one with a slightly broken stem. All the better to drip ice cream on my trousers later. I wish I could say the price was right, but it wasn’t. We paid well over $6 for two kiddie sized cones which while I admit I can take the financial hit, at least I was hoping for a little Chicagoland blast from the part. All I got was wasted calories and a craving for someone to buck the current cultural obsession with frozen yogurt (yeah, Red Mango lasted like what 6 months?) and consider the rest of us people who prefer rich, creamy super fattening ice cream, just like the kind we had way back when, like when nobody counted calories and taste actually mattered for something.