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Frozen Custard in the BA?

sgwood415 May 26, 2007 09:18 AM

We used to find this a lot in the mid west when we lived in Chicago. Found one place in San Jose but they stopped serving it and switched to frozen yogurt, probably because there isn't much demand (or awareness even) around here. Any ideas on places that are serving up good frozen custard though?

  1. j
    Jeff Stewart Jul 10, 2010 09:08 PM

    The place is Willow Glen does serve frozen custard. I was there last week. There was and still is a frozen custard stand in my hometown in Indiana, and the Willow Glen stuff was pretty darn good.

    1. s
      sugartoof Jun 29, 2008 10:29 AM

      This was an old thread and it sounds like you've come to terms with this...but...

      the trade off is soft serve, because a good softserve can come close. It's been a while, but Polly Anna used to have great softserve that was similar to the Frozen Custards I've had in New York. There's a difference in richness but they're not worlds away which is why the three places that opened in NYC never took off into the franchise market as the owners had hoped. The market for that kind of nostalgia product isn't even big on the East Coast I guess. Hell, NY doesn't even have really great soft serve, and the frozen custard places still closed down after short runs.

      I really doubt the Bay Area would be a better market but let's cross our fingers.
      Currently the East Coast is going through a small batch ice cream craze, with restaurants making a few flavors for summer and putting carts outside their stores.
      I can't wait for San Francisco to do the same.

      2 Replies
      1. re: sugartoof
        Robert Lauriston Jun 29, 2008 11:36 AM

        Some restaurants (e.g. Slanted Door) make great ice cream in-house all year. Given the weather in summer there's not much incentive for seasonal carts and sidewalk sales, which are more of a licensing hassle in SF than some places.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          sugartoof Jun 29, 2008 02:30 PM

          It's a great city for kiosks though.

      2. w
        warmbaguettes Jun 28, 2008 08:38 AM

        anyone try pizzeria picco in larkspur?

        reported here to be custard:

        1 Reply
        1. re: warmbaguettes
          Robert Lauriston Jun 28, 2008 09:47 AM

          Per this 2005 report it's not frozen custard:


        2. cafecreme May 30, 2007 08:14 PM

          There's a Hawaiian style cafe in Japantown that has this delicious soft-serve that has a a custardy taste to me. It's a little more yellow and richer than frozen yogurt or soft serve. I can't remember the name, but it's in the middle building, upstairs, near May's Coffee Shop. It's got tons of greenery around it, right by the door opening to the Peace Plaza. I have made trips there just for this stuff. But, not being from the midwest, I can't confirm that it's going to meet your standards. I can try to find the name--anyone know this place?

          1 Reply
          1. re: cafecreme
            Gary Soup May 30, 2007 09:20 PM

            Cafe Hana, of course.

          2. The Dive May 29, 2007 09:41 AM

            I'm from St. Louis, home of Ted Drew's (the best frozen custard in the country). There is nothing in the Bay Area remotely like it. I've given up a long time ago.

            2 Replies
            1. re: The Dive
              mdg May 29, 2007 07:45 PM

              Similarly, I have found nothing similar to the fine frozen custards from Milwaukee and Detroit (the two places with outstanding frozen custard that I have experienced first hand) and have also stopped searching. I tried the frozen custard in Willow Glen and it was indistinguishable from regular soft-serve ice cream. It was nowhere close to the real thing and its absence would be no great chowhounding loss.


              1. re: mdg
                sgwood415 May 29, 2007 07:52 PM

                I'm getting that idea too. There are just some things you can't get in this area. Well, let's enjoy to fabulous gelato and ice cream here and we can have frozen custard to look forward to on the next trip.

            2. Melanie Wong May 26, 2007 10:10 AM

              Sorry to hear that place in San Jose discontinued it. Willow Glen? That place and Woody's in Mill Valley are the only ones I've tried locally. Here's my post on Woody's --- can't say it was good.

              14 Replies
              1. re: Melanie Wong
                Mr_J May 26, 2007 10:31 AM

                Willow Glen in San Jose is the only place that I know of, and it's good.

                1. re: Mr_J
                  sgwood415 May 26, 2007 10:37 AM

                  Yeah, that's where we would go but last time they told us they aren't making it any more and they only had frozen yogurt. It might just be a summer offering though. It's possible that the worker behind the counter that day didn't have the right info.

                  But yes, that place was good. It's hit and miss place to place since it's made daily by each establishment. When they use good quality eggs and dairy it's a wonderful treat.

                  1. re: sgwood415
                    Melanie Wong May 29, 2007 09:10 PM

                    Willow Glen used to have it on weekends only. It's made from mix, so I don't understand why other spots don't devote one tap (or whatever the right word is) to frozen custard.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong
                      Robert Lauriston May 29, 2007 09:26 PM

                      Given what I see for sale, the market's strong for low-fat and non-fat soft-serve, and extra-rich is a niche.

                      Some East-Coast-centric place like Amici's or North Beach Lobster Shack should sell it.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong
                        sgwood415 May 29, 2007 09:28 PM

                        My understanding is that it doesn't keep for a long time, so places that make it right have to make it fresh every day. Also, I believe it's a different kind of machine (not a typical soft serve ice cream machine). It is served not as cold as ice cream, and usually only comes in vanilla and chocolate. There is probably not enough demand around here for anyone to bother making it. Too bad because it's a great, flavorful treat in the summer. Can't have it all in the Bay Area.

                        Here's a list I found that has a pretty long list of custard stands (none around here) www.custardlist.com

                        1. re: sgwood415
                          Agent 510 May 30, 2007 10:46 AM

                          That list is interesting. L.A. even has a place (a dedicated frozen custard place, as opposed to random places up here that sometimes have something on their menu that may or may not be it...): http://www.lickity-split.com

                          I'm surprised something like that can survive in similarly health-conscious L.A. but not here. The Bay Area can support so many of these "artisinal" gelato places but not even one custard stand?

                    2. re: Mr_J
                      Melanie Wong May 26, 2007 10:59 AM

                      Have you tried the frozen custard at Main Street Burger in Los Gatos? Mentioned in the linked thread.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong
                        sgwood415 May 26, 2007 10:23 PM

                        They don't have it. Went by there today and they serve frozen yogurt.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong
                          sgwood415 May 26, 2007 10:36 PM

                          Not sure about Woody's. It's not listed on the menu on their website, but I haven't been there in person to see for myself.

                          1. re: sgwood415
                            Melanie Wong May 29, 2007 09:09 PM

                            One thing to be careful about is that one of the frozen yogurt companies makes a flavor called vanilla custard. When I spotted it somewhere, i asked the person behind the counter if it was frozen custard or frozen yogurt and he said, "custard". Luckily, the owner at the other end of the room overheard this and corrected him, saving me some disappointment.

                      2. re: Melanie Wong
                        DavidT Jun 29, 2008 08:31 PM

                        Woody's Yogurt shop (in the Town & Country shopping center, off Highway 101 in Mill Valley) is alive & well and still serving a tasty vanilla custard. I was there yesterday and had one.

                        The shop is located in the back of the shopping center, around the corner from Joseph Bank.

                        1. re: DavidT
                          Robert Lauriston Jun 30, 2008 10:48 AM

                          Odd that they don't mention it on their menu.

                          Woody's Yogurt Place
                          214 Strawberry Vlg, Mill Valley, CA

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                            DavidT Jun 30, 2008 11:05 AM

                            Yes, that is odd. I have had the Vanilla Custard many times at Woody's over the past 3-4 years. I could not say whether it is a "bona-fide" custard by the standards of the person starting this thread. What Woody's serves does have a distinctive taste that is certainly different from the frozen yogurts and soft-serve ice creams I have tasted elsewhere in the Bay Area.

                            1. re: DavidT
                              Robert Lauriston Jun 30, 2008 11:14 AM

                              From the info on woodysyogurtplace.com, I think they serve Dannon YoCream, which is not yogurt. It's "made from rich cream and real eggs" and has 9 grams of fat per 1/2 cup vs. 0 to 3.5 grams for their frozen yogurts.


                      3. Robert Lauriston May 26, 2007 10:09 AM

                        It's not on their online menu, but maybe at:


                        1. a
                          Agent 510 May 26, 2007 09:47 AM

                          I've had plenty of frozen custard growing up in Illinois, and I think I've found a good substitute: vanilla soft-serve from Carvel. To me, it tastes a lot more like frozen custard than ordinary crappy soft-serve. There are only 2 stores I'm aware of (Berkeley and Los Altos) but on the plus side, the chain is expanding, and it's also a new thing for most Midwesterners since it hasn't been very prevalent there.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Agent 510
                            rworange May 26, 2007 08:03 PM

                            Thanks ... that was my impression of Carvel when I asked about the difference on the General Board.


                            In the above link they say about Philly-style soft serve ...

                            "Philadelphia-style ice cream is ice cream that isn't made with a cooked custard base. It also doesn't contain any egg yolks ... It is based on milk/cream, sugar, and other flavorings. Since you don't add egg yolks to the mix and heat it the way you would a custard, it is easier to make ... However, just because egg yolks are added to the mix doesn't mean that the mix is heated to a custard."

                            So that's why the Philly custard tastes like regular soft-serve ... and I swear that long ago Carvel billed itself as selling frozen custard.

                            Another discussion on the General Board

                            Sam's Chowder House in HMB was supposed to carry it but they whimped out and are selling soft-serve.

                            The dogout sells soft serve, not frozen custard.

                          2. Robert Lauriston May 26, 2007 09:26 AM

                            There are a few Fosters Freeze outlets around the bay:


                            8 Replies
                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                              sgwood415 May 26, 2007 09:30 AM

                              Hmm, you are misinformed sir. That is not frozen custard. Far cry from it actually.

                              1. re: sgwood415
                                Robert Lauriston May 26, 2007 09:49 AM

                                Can you describe what you're looking for?

                                The only place I've encountered "frozen custard" was in Philadelphia, where so far as I could tell it was just the local term for soft-serve ice cream.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                  sgwood415 May 26, 2007 09:57 AM

                                  I'm looking for authentic frozen custard (NOT ice cream or frozen yogurt). It's made with more egg yolks and a lot less air whipped in (overrun). It's thicker and creamier than ice cream or yogurt. Has a much higher fat content. Doesn't travel well or keep well so it's made fresh and served on premises.

                                  1. re: sgwood415
                                    Robert Lauriston May 26, 2007 10:03 AM

                                    Googling, looks like that's one of those eastern regional items that are virtually unknown here.

                                    The Chron reported a few months ago that Clown Alley was going to have it. Anybody tried theirs?


                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                      sgwood415 May 26, 2007 10:05 AM

                                      Clown Alley is now Pickles. Not sure what's going on with the menu, etc.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                        Gary Soup May 26, 2007 10:10 AM

                                        I missed that column. Clown Alley becoming Yuppified? The end of the world is at near!

                                        1. re: Gary Soup
                                          sgwood415 May 26, 2007 10:18 AM

                                          Well, if it's in the hands of the people who run Myth, we might be saved.

                                        2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                          Robert Lauriston May 27, 2007 10:00 AM

                                          Clown Alley / Pickles does not have it, at least not yet.

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