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REVIEW: Millions of Milkshakes? Not quite

t
tkemeny Aug 24, 2008 10:37 AM

On Friday my wife and I, and a couple of friends went down to check out the new Millions of Milkshakes store that we read about on EaterLA. It's in West Hollywood - Santa Monica and San Vicente, more or less.

http://la.eater.com/archives/2008/08/...

We love milkshakes. What's not to love? Well......

Ok, first of all the good stuff:
1) They love Michael Jackson. Dancing staff are fun (though an older staff member seemed to be exhorting them to dance...it should be voluntary and spontaneous I think, otherwise a little creepy), especially to PYT.

2) The place is nice, clean, bright and inviting.

3) Very friendly staff explained the whole concept to us, and waited patiently while we stood around and pondered the many (!) toppings.

4) Lots of interesting elements to choose from. They include chocolate bars (ranging from mars bars to toblerone and ferrero rocher), to fresh and dried fruit, to licorice and other candy, as well as various syrups.

Now on to the trouble:
1) They aren't really milkshakes. The concept is that you choose a size, a base (either vanilla ice cream, soy ice cream or yoghurt) and then toppings from the aforementioned extensive toppings bar, and then they blend it up for you, either as a milkshake or as a sundae. We got milkshakes, or so we thought. But actually what we got was closest to a DQ Blizzard. Actually, it was almost identical to a Blizzard. Now I like those things, but they aren't milkshakes. You figure a place called Millions of Milkshakes should serve at least one.

2) They aren't *good* blizzards either. The main problem is that the toppings don't get properly chopped up. I ordered a milkshake with dried figs and heath bar. But as I slurped it down, the figs in particular were not well chopped up. I got big clumps that blocked my straw, and were pretty tough to eat. I think they forgot to chop off some of the tops of the figs too, which was a particularly unpleasant surprise. At the bottom of my "shake" was a big clump of partially blended figs. Not nice. My wife got Raisinettes and caramel sauce. Her Raisinettes suffered the same problems as my figs. Big, cold, hard clumps of them sat at the bottom of her concoction. Our two friends ordered other varieties, but suffered the same problem. We were all a bit dissatisfied with the whole thing. It's not that it was bad exactly - how bad can ice cream and figs and heath bars be? But it wasn't a milkshake, and it wasn't very good either. One way to solve the latter problem at least might be to pre-blend the hard ingredients separately, before blending it all together into the final product. That way we probably wouldn't have gotten the unfortunate sludge at the bottom. Still not a milkshake, but probably a tasty Blizzard with unusual ingredients - a niche at the minimum.

3) Their pricing is also off base. You pay $5 for the base for a regular size, then 95 cents for each topping. So, even a minimal regular shake is about $7 dollars. I understand they wanted to keep things simple by using one price for each topping. But these toppings are not equal. They might consider a category of deluxe and regular toppings, with some being substantially cheaper than a dollar each. Or maybe they should reduce the price for 3rd and 4th toppings, since obviously they can't be putting equal amounts of toppings as you add more and more, otherwise your toppings would outweigh your ice cream, leading to a bit of a disaster. Bottom line though: it costs too much. I don't want an $8 milkshake. And if I did, it better blow my socks off.

4) It's all a bit overwhelming. We all stood there for a good 5 minutes, maybe 10, just staring at it all trying to figure out what to do. Of course people should have the freedom to come up with the combinations they want, but a bit of guidance about things that work well together might be helpful. Maybe a short list of pre-selected favorites would be good, to get the ball rolling. If nothing else it will give people ideas they can build on or adapt. I got the feeling people were afraid to go in there because they were intimidated by it all. I don't blame them.

Overall then - maybe they are just working out the kinks, but the kinks don't seem insubstantial. None of the four of us were too keen, and that included a friend who declared an undying love for milkshakes. I don't think we'll be back. Did anyone else have a better experience?

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  1. n
    nosh Aug 24, 2008 10:54 AM

    Thanks for taking (and paying) for one for the team. As much as I love milkshakes, malts even more, $7 or more is way past my pricepoint. A couple of questions out of curiosity:

    Is this "base" made out of real ice cream scooped from tubs? It sounds like a soft ice cream or preblended shake concoction that comes out of a machine.

    Do they offer a malt option? For free or does it cost like a topping?

    1. s
      steve29 Aug 24, 2008 11:29 AM

      Wow, how weird that there are no real milkshakes. So how were these concoctions actually blended? In a high power blender or in one of those machines that they use at DQ? Also, was milk or any liquid used in the making of these?

      1. j
        justagthing Aug 24, 2008 11:33 AM

        sounds like cold stone, but 'milkshake' form...eh

        1. sbritchky Aug 24, 2008 04:44 PM

          My favorite way to get a "million" -- or, at least, a variety -- of shakes without adding unprocessable chunks of this or indigestible kernels of that is to order a mixed shake at a good place that has plenty of ice-cream choices. E.g., at Fosselman's I usually ask them to blend 1 scoop of espresso (or other joe-based ice cream) with 2 scoops of cookies n' cream. Lumpy ingredients always cause problems with the straw, of course, but they seem to go through more easily if they've already been mixed into prepared ice cream.

          1. w
            wehogal Aug 25, 2008 09:59 AM

            I live in the neighborhood and am looking forward to trying them, but not sure I want a DQ Blizzard. What I'm really excited about is the place across the street YOGURT STOP. Does anyone know anything about it? The buzz is that it's going to be the best yogurt, i.e. chocolate, vanilla, irish mint, cookie cream, strawberry, etc., and you pump it yourself and put your own toppings on and then put it on a scale and they charge you according to weight. Yogurt buffet heaven!!! Now to me, that's exciting because I don't have to stand there and place my order and get mad because the kid behind the counter is counting out 5 blackberries and 1 scoop of peanuts. I get to do it myself and choose exactly what and how much I want on top! And, if I want a lot of yogurt in my cup or a little, I decide... And the best thing I've heard is that it's real yogurt and not the Pinkberry crap...

            8 Replies
            1. re: wehogal
              lotta_cox Aug 25, 2008 11:57 AM

              now that sounds promising! Thanks for the tip!

              1. re: wehogal
                d
                Diana Aug 25, 2008 01:05 PM

                Sounds like they justripped off Menchie's in NoHo

                1. re: Diana
                  w
                  wehogal Aug 25, 2008 01:28 PM

                  What's Menchies?

                  1. re: wehogal
                    ReelMike84 Aug 25, 2008 02:02 PM

                    Menchie's is a a pump and top it yourself yogurt place in Valley Village. You pick a flavor, top it off, and then it's weighed and charged by the ounce. It can actually get pretty pricey since its easy to go hog wild with the yogurt and toppings.

                    1. re: ReelMike84
                      d
                      Diana Aug 25, 2008 03:35 PM

                      You also get to help yourself from a toppings bar f fruit, candy, chocolate and hot sauces. I think it's like 39 cents an ounce.

                      Menchie's is all Kosher, and fat free. they always have on or two fat free/sugar free flavors too.

                      The flavors are pretty dang good. Menchie's was the first get your own yogurt place in the LA area, I think. There is another store, not Menchie's, of do it you own on Van Nuys Blvd.

                  2. re: Diana
                    w
                    wehogal Aug 25, 2008 05:02 PM

                    A ha! Didn't know what Menchie's was, but now that you told me, sounds like Menchie's actually ripped off Yogurtland in Fullerton which has been around for years and it's all self serve and weigh and pay. Honestly, all that matters is if this new place has good yogurt or not...as far as "ripped off" well, then, guess you could say 76 ripped off Shell or Coffee Bean ripped off Starbucks or Albertons ripped off Safeway, etc. In the meantime, will try Millions of Milkshakes and hope I like it.

                  3. re: wehogal
                    j
                    jackattack Aug 25, 2008 06:00 PM

                    Those do-it-yourself yogurt places are popping up all over town. At 39c an ounce, it gets pretty pricey. Everyone I've ever seen in line in front of me has like half a cup of yogurt and a tiny sprinkling of toppings...afraid I guess that they are gonna weigh out to 6 or 7 dollars when all is said and done.

                    Fad....................will fade fast...........

                    1. re: jackattack
                      j
                      justagthing Aug 25, 2008 11:24 PM

                      Waaayyy back in the 80's there were places like this...old concept. Everything comes back again.

                  4. rednyellow Aug 25, 2008 06:21 PM

                    I almost tried this place today. I've been craving a good milkshake and while driving by saw the sign and thought "perfect!". Hardly. I parked, went in and there was a long line that wasn't moving. After a few min. of watching four people behind the counter who clearly didn't know what they were doing, checking the prices, and seeing soft serve being pumped into blenders and clumby toppings being scooped out of the blenders, I left. I went to Baskin Robbins and got a fine chocolate shake for a few bucks less.

                    1. a
                      ahuacatl Aug 27, 2008 12:56 AM

                      Good report, worth some chuckles. Sounds like a place I would not like and I like a good milkshake.

                      You might actually like the date shake across the street @ O Burger.

                      1. c
                        culinarycandy Aug 27, 2008 03:17 AM

                        Far better shakes can be had at Silky Smooth (Beverly Center) and Lucky Devil's (Hollywood Blvd). Silky Smooth offers incredibly velvety shakes you can drink with a straw, plus spoonable "Silkywhip" shakes that are so thick they are served upside down. Lucky Devil's shakes are nearly as thick as the Silkywhip, and also have high-quality flavor and mouthfeel.
                        I, for one, prefer shakes that are super thick, super smooth, and that taste like the flavor they are, not just an overly-sweet, foamy chemical mess like so many mass-produced shakes out there made with only profit in mind. Actually, on a good day when they're made right, Carl's Jr shakes beat most of the soft-serve chain shakes, and even rival many of the better hand-scooped shakes at ice cream parlors.

                        1. SmokeyDoke Nov 28, 2008 05:56 AM

                          I had the same experience at Millions of Milkshake.
                          I got their Million Dollar Milkshake with chocolate, strawberries and ferrero rocher. It was good. I liked the cadbury flake.
                          But yea... it just wasn't great... you know? I mean, for $7, it has to be awesome. No, it has to be addictive. It has to be frozen crack. And it's not.
                          Will not go back.

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