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Let's talk soft serve

After a couple of weeks on the Cape, I was reminded how much I love soft serve ice cream (especially with the chocolate dip, but my waistline definitely appreciates how hard it is to find that around here). On our last ice cream outing back in town (Somerville, to be exact), we went to JP Licks and I was horrified to discover that a soft serve cone is now up to four bucks. Anyone have suggestions for the cheap and delicious soft serve of my youth? Somerville/Cambridge/Arlington or vicinity...

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  1. You should search, there was a pretty sizable thread last year or two years ago. My vote still goes to Celebrity in Watertown, where a "small" (substantial) cone is about $3 with tax

    10 Replies
    1. re: Luther

      2nd Celebrity...javaberry dipped...

      1. re: Gabatta

        I keep hearing people recommend this and have always wondered... what does "dipped" mean? Dipped in what?

        1. re: Pia

          Usually dipped in chocolate, not unlike Magic Shell. You can also get a cherry dip, from which you can exceed your annual recommended dosage of red dye.

          I grew up eating vanilla cones with a cherry dip from DQ, and while my tastes surely have changed since then, I feel like the cherry dip used to taste a *little* less artificial than it does nowadays.

          1. re: Bob Dobalina

            Don't forget the butterscotch dip.

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              I still love DQ vanilla with cherry dip, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Love grabbing a burger from The Chat in Wayland and then hitting the DQ in Framingham for a cherry dip. Basically got me through my second pregnancy.

        2. re: Luther

          Here's that thread:
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/609332

          For close to town, I agree with Luther that Celebrity in Watertown is excellent. But even better than Celebrity (although not as cheap as I'd like) is Kell's Kreme in Revere, a little bit further out Revere Beach Boulevard from Kelly's Roast Beef.

          1. re: Allstonian

            I haven't tried Celebrity here in Watertown yet, but oh... Kell's Kreme! Delicious - was going to add that there's one in Swampscott, too (used to live near THAT one - took great dedication to keep away, lol) but drove by recently & was surprised to see an entire little block of stores gone (across from Red Rock). We were thinking that maybe there was a fire - I think (not totally sure) that this was where that Kell's Kreme was.

            There's supposed to be one in the Square One Mall, but somehow it doesn't seem right to have a Kell's w/out beach & ocean...

            -----
            Kell's Kreme
            1201 Broadway, Saugus, MA 01906

          2. re: Luther

            Mmmm......Celebrity really rocks! Very rich soft serve!

            1. re: Science Chick

              The medium may well weigh 1 lb. Plus great flavor choices.

              1. re: KilgoreTrout

                Going to get over there soon!

          3. My favorite places to go for soft serve are probably Dairy Joy in Weston (not too far for you) and Dairy Barn in Randolph (maybe too far?). Dairy Joy is generally very expensive for everything there, while Dairy Barn is pretty reasonable.

            6 Replies
            1. re: hiddenboston

              I stopped at Dairy Joy this afternoon. I ordered a small Javaberry cone. The soft serve had a sort of gritty texture (ice crystals?) and the cone was very stale. And, it was $2.99 plus tax. I pass by Dairy Joy all the time but I won't be stopping again.

              -----
              Dairy Joy
              331 North Ave, Weston, MA 02493

              1. re: skippy66

                Interesting, I recently had a Javaberry at Celebrity and just the raspberry side also had an unpleasant gritty texture, almost like it was a sorbet instead of soft serve. I wonder if it was an issue with the machine temperature or something?

                1. re: nickls

                  No, the raspberry is in fact a soft-serve sherbet or sorbet and does have a gritty texture. I haven't been as thrilled as many folks with the Javaberry because of that.

                  1. re: Allstonian

                    That's why I prefer just the coffee soft serve, which is excellent, and usually skip the java berry.

                  2. re: nickls

                    It's sorbet or sherbet. Not soft serve ice cream. It's chunky and non-creamy but I wouldn't describe it as icy. Personally I like the contrast with the creamy coffee side.

                    1. re: Luther

                      I agree. The contrast in texture between the raspberry and coffee is part of what makes it so great.

              2. Not your exact area, but I'm hooked on the vanilla soft serve at Pizzi Farm in Waltham (never had anything else there because I can't get past the soft serve). It's better than any other kind I've had (including Dairy Joy and Celebrity) -- and I used to think soft serve was all the same. A kiddie (generous) and a small (enormous) are both under $4.00.

                -----
                Pizzi Farm
                549 Lincoln St, Waltham, MA 02451

                4 Replies
                1. re: stomachofsteel

                  I haven't ever heard of Pizzi Farm but just looked it up and I'm going to plan on taking a road trip there w/my kid before school starts . . . we are dyed in the wool Celebrity Fans (but live very nearby) but always on the hunt for new venues!

                  GG
                  http://www.semisweetonline.com

                  -----
                  Pizzi Farm
                  549 Lincoln St, Waltham, MA 02451

                  1. re: gansu girl

                    Oh, good Lord, the bus goes there! I can see I'll be on an ice cream journey soon... How is there regular ice cream? (sorry - meant this for stomachofsteel)

                    1. re: threedogs

                      Haven't tried it. I keep meaning to, but then I just order the soft serve.

                      1. re: stomachofsteel

                        Since this thread just got bumped, I can now answer threedogs' question and report that I've tried their regular ice cream and was not impressed. Kind of icy, not as creamy as I'm used to (I'm a diehard Toscanini's fan). I tried a salted caramel pretzel flavor, and the pretzels tasted stale.

                        But the soft serve is still the best I've had.

                2. We get excellent soft serve at Ice Cream Works in West Rox, and I also get very good soft serve at Truly Yogurt in Wellesley. Not super close to you, but both less than $3 for what I consider to be a substantial amount of ice cream! I agree - JP LIcks is WAY overpriced (for everything).

                  -----
                  Truly Yogurt
                  35 Grove St, Wellesley, MA 02482

                  1. My favorite is Michele's drive through on 3A Weymouth. It's about a mile after you go over the Fore River Bridge going towards Hull. I also like the soft serve stand on Adams St in Quincy just over the East Milton line about a 3/4 -1mile from 93. It's called Dairy Freeze.

                    -----
                    Dairy Freeze
                    635 Adams St, Quincy, MA 02169

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: catsmeow

                      Just tried Michele's recently, it was decent and had a ton of flavors if you wanted something besides a twist. That place in Everett on Rt. 99 is pretty cheap and good. Louie's Ice Cream on E. Broadway in Somerville had a broken soft serve machine last I knew but usually has soft serve. And of course any fair you go to usually has soft serve, Marshfield is this week I think.

                      -----
                      Louie's Ice Cream
                      Somerville, Somerville, MA

                      1. re: total13

                        BTW, tried to get soft serve at Louie's and the machine appears to be permanently down - something about needing parts that are hard to get. Still plenty of hard ice cream and good too.

                    2. I'm happy with McDonald's $1 cone.

                      1. It's not truly soft serve but Abbott's is excellent frozen custard. Not a great variety of flavors. The most famous is the chocolate almond. Abbott's is a fixture around Rochester, NY with scattered franchised locations here, FL and somewhere out west. There's one in Needham center and one in Brighton Center.

                        Of the local stuff, I'd rank Kell's above anything else, though it also barely qualifies as soft serve because of its richness. Dairy Joy is very good but you need to take out a 2nd mortgage.

                        My wife dislike Celebrity. Soft serve is her thing. I can usually bribe her with Dairy Queen.

                        -----
                        Kells Restaurant
                        161 Brighton Ave, Allston, MA 02134

                        Dairy Joy
                        331 North Ave, Weston, MA 02493

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: lergnom

                          No DQ's near me. Haven't actually been to one since I was a kid, as a matter of fact.

                          Interesting that we have a place w/frozen custard! That I didn't know - went to the Abbott's site, but they don't put prices on their online menu. Annoying. Do you remember the prices for the cones, by any chance?

                          1. re: threedogs

                            Chilly Cow in Arlington Center is also a frozen custard spot.

                          2. re: lergnom

                            You know, as much time as I've spent in Brighton Center, I literally only JUST noticed that Abbott's last week. I have to admit, I have never understood the distinction between soft-serve and frozen custard: somebody here want to take a shot at explaining it to me?

                            1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                              Custard has more eggs (yolks) and higher fat content I believe.

                            2. re: lergnom

                              +1 for Abbott's. Better than most soft serve!

                            3. where did you love Soft Serve on the Cape?

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: phelana

                                We did go to the DQ a couple of times, and we enjoyed the soft serve at Kreme and Kone the most. I recently took my son to camp and was tempted by the side-of-the-road place off exit 16 on Rt. 2, but sadly did not stop... that one is in my future, I think.

                                1. re: Weiszguy

                                  And the onion rings at Kreme 'n' Kone are not to be missed . . . just a junk food fest over there - totally worth the splurge, though!

                                  GG
                                  http://www.semisweetonline.com

                                  1. re: gansu girl

                                    And the fried clams...

                                2. re: phelana

                                  There is pretty good soft serve at a number of places on the outer cape, all serving the Hood version. They sell it at Mac's stand on the water in Wellfleet, at the mini-golf place in front of the Wellfleet Drive-In, and the place nextt to Rookie's on Rte. 6. All of them will hit the spot.

                                  1. re: phelana

                                    Finbar's in Orleans has great soft serve (and good food, too).

                                    GG
                                    http://www.semisweetonline.com

                                    1. re: gansu girl

                                      @GG - Went to Finbar's a couple of weeks ago for the first time and hated the soft serve. I had a classic "twist" cone and it was icy, thin tasting...almost like someone had watered it down! I wonder if they changed vendors for the mix? Anyone else try them recently?

                                      1. re: Science Chick

                                        haven't been to Finbar this season...I tend to go to Frosty's for soft serve and Smuggler's for hard...would LOVE frozen custard if someone served it..hmm..maybe a business venture ...

                                        1. re: Science Chick

                                          Oh no! Really? Haven't been this season, but that's not been my experience in past years! Sorry it was that way . . . total buzzkill to get bad soft serve.

                                          GG
                                          http://www.semisweetonine.com

                                    2. There's Louie's in East Somerville, on Broadway just east of McGrath highway. Very good soft-serve, reasonable prices. Check hours before you go, they tend to be limited.

                                      1. I don't even like soft serve that much, but I really like Celebrity. Had a small javaberry there recently -- totally refreshing! What's the deal with javaberry, anyway? Is it just a Boston thing? I mean, nothing about it makes sense: it looks freaky, it sounds freaky. But the taste really works! Creamy coffee cut with icy tart berry..... mmmm.

                                        I actually prefer the tang of frozen yogurt, and my absolute favorite place to go was Luscious Licks. If there is anyone who remembers LL, do any of the nouveau fro-yo places match up?

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: czarp

                                          I'm not big on soft serve either, but as I mentioned above I was not a fan of the unusual texture in the javaberry at Celebrity. I was expecting something more like Kohr Bros. frozen custard that I used to get on the Jersey Shore. The Kohr Bros. I went to had a coffee and dulce de leche swirl that was good. As far as I know all their flavors are creamy and smooth even though some of them are fruit flavors. Apparently there is a Kohr Bros. in the South Shore Plaza these days.

                                          1. re: czarp

                                            I think Javaberry is a Dairy Joy invention, more than "just a Boston thing." Celebrity seems to have some historical connection with Dairy Joy. I had certainly never encountered it before folks on this board started raving about it at Celebrity and DJ.

                                            I'm afraid I'm with nickls - tried it once but decided it was not for me, mostly because of the texture.

                                          2. Just wanted to put in a good word here for Pizzi Farms in Waltham. Man, their soft serve is creamy, flavorful and just great. I moved within walking distance of there recently, and it is *quite* dangerous! Good thing I can walk both ways there and back home to burn some of it off! ;)

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Science Chick

                                              Doesn't sound like Louie's will be getting their soft serve machine fixed any time soon. Their hard ice cream is a bargain, but doesn't really compare to Toscanninis (B3, to be exact).

                                            2. I haven't been in a few years so don't know the prices, but Cravings, Wakefield Center, will grind your choice of dozens of add-ins to your choice of ice cream, creating a personalized soft-serve cone for you. I like (real) carrot cake mixed into vanilla.

                                              1. Dairy Dome in Stoneham on route 28 is cheap. I got a small and it was about a lb of soft serve and I think it was about $3. Can't vouch for flavors as I only had chocolate/vanilla twist, but when I went after realizing I really did want toppings after all, the server gave me a whole paper cup of oreo crumbs for free. Picnic tables out front, very old-timey. Look for the golden dome.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: Parsnipity

                                                  It's really too bad that even kiddie portions are at least 8 fluid ounces, whether regular or soft serve, no matter where you go. When you read the label on an ice cream carton, the portion size is usually given as a half cup. That's fine by me, since I am already oversized. Even if some people consider that as skimpy, surely an ADULT portion does not need to be more than a cup. You're eating it away from home without the ability to freeze the extra, and have to choose between throwing it away and eating it all. Between not wanting to discard/waste something you've just paid for, and temptation, I doubt very much gets tossed.

                                                  BTW, Parsnipity, I like to think that you originally hailed from NJ - Parsippany, to be exact, and that you are by nature a parsimonious person who also likes persimmons. ;-D.

                                                  1. re: greygarious

                                                    I'm with you on this one......a kiddie portion should be a small little swirl. At least at all the new soft yogurt places (Berryline, e.g.) you can get a true small portion, as they sell by the ounce. The "kiddie" at Pizzi Farms is what I would consider a medium size, by the old standards. I just eat 1/3 of it and sorrowfully through the rest out to prevent overeating.... :(

                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                      Agreed, it's too much. And yes, I ate it all because who can possibly throw out ice cream? Well, except for Science Chick...

                                                      And no, I just really like parsnips and have a tendency to be persnickety.

                                                  2. Stopped in Abbott's today in Brighton and had my first authentic Frozen Custard in probably 40 years. Pistachio and chocolate almond. Scrumptious. Not sure why this style of ice cream has gone out of favor. Damn it was tasty.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: CapeCodGuy

                                                      Abbott's is great. I believe the local stores were brought in by someone who grew up in Rochester, NY where Abbott's is from.

                                                      I love their chocolate almond.

                                                    2. Moe's Southwestern Grill on Main St. in Waltham has a small Carvel inside. I sampled both the chocolate and the vanilla and they were pretty creamy and tasty. Carvel is the creamiest soft serve I've sampled so far.

                                                      13 Replies
                                                      1. re: bear

                                                        Thanks for the info, bear! I didn't know there were any Carvel outlets left! Look's like Moe's is partnering with them.....they are also listed in their Shrewsbury store. Can't wait to stop in....been years since I've had Carvel. Are they just doing cones, do they have flying saucers too?

                                                        1. re: Science Chick

                                                          They have cones and...Carvelanches?? I think that's what they're called. My wife, who comes from NJ (where Carvel stores abound), was thrilled when we saw the Carvel sign.

                                                          bear, have you been to Pizzi Farm? Apologies if I missed it upthread. My wife always swore Carvel was the best...until she tried Pizzi.

                                                          1. re: stomachofsteel

                                                            After the good reports here, I'll have to give it another try. It's been several years and I remember both my husband and I thought the flavors were pretty bland, but that was only one visit. It's definitely on my list for a retry!

                                                            1. re: bear

                                                              I just go for the vanilla soft serve -- no "regular" ice cream, no fancy flavors. It's what I think they do best (ditto for Carvel).

                                                              1. re: stomachofsteel

                                                                Agreed stomach.....I am partial to the classic "twist" vanilla/choc, or vanilla alone.

                                                                1. re: Science Chick

                                                                  I had a "creamsicle" twist the other day with orange sherbert and vanilla icecream - quite refreshing. But I agree, most times I would rather have the plain vanilla.

                                                          2. re: Science Chick

                                                            http://www.carvel.com/store-locator

                                                            Just two in MA

                                                          3. re: bear

                                                            Do they have Cookie Puss and Fudgie the Whale?

                                                            1. re: Gabatta

                                                              Didn't see either!

                                                              It's a smallish section in the back of Moe's, with cones, Carvalanches and frappes/thick milk shakes. I don't think they have a freezer section, but didn't ask if they have anything out back.

                                                              1. re: bear

                                                                At full-service Carvel stores, they used to make *fresh* flying saucers for you! Mmmm...fresh soft serve between those yummy chocolate wafers. Such a different experience than frozen solid ice cream sandwiches with limp cookies! I may have to go down to CT to find a Carvel store for those... :(

                                                                1. re: Science Chick

                                                                  Yeah, I don't think they'll have them at Moe's. Too bad...they sound terrific and perfect for this weekend.

                                                                  1. re: bear

                                                                    I called.....they don't have them.

                                                                    1. re: Science Chick

                                                                      Shucks. Thanks for checking!

                                                          4. Just had a chocolate/vanilla swirl from Twist & Shake at Revere Beach. Very thick and creamy. As mentioned up-thread, I got a kiddie size and it was enough for me and my kiddie to share. What is up with the super-size? I think it was $3.50.

                                                            1. soft serve sucks. it is not real ice cream (why is everyone talking about toscanini's?? which is the best city home made ice cream in boston??) soft serve: it generally is super unsanitary, and it is not made of anything but oil and filler ..possibly some dairy? but if you need to get it (fun road trips, where you pretend you can eat anything and not pay any consequences, ever) it can be fun, and you've got to go whole hog. get a dip, or a twist and/or go nuts with sprinkles, is my suggestion. you're occasionally gonna get some ice crystals i guess? tho i've never had that happen. you're being fed out of a machine, for chris'sake. dairy joy in weston is great. it's over priced, yes, and never get fried clams there, you'll pay something like $30 for a small box of nothin', but it's in the middle of a beautiful stretch of land en route to many new england choice spots, and it's exactly what soft serve is supposed to be, whippy frozen goo that stays in place on a fake cookie wafery cone. just deal. mmm, summer. .. i suggest you get the black raspberry with chocolate dip at dairy joy. louie's in somerville i agree, awesome location, haven't been there in years though, so can't report on the consistency of this product. there's also that DQ on the wayland/framingham line, to get the cherry or butterscotch dip, as mentioned. the cape has some spots too, but generally this is a vermont thing. pretty much every gas station in vermont has a soft serve "CREAMIE" machine, and they're only, like, a $buck up there. so, take a road trip and go north, if you want cheap frozen retro treats.

                                                              17 Replies
                                                              1. re: twinky101

                                                                Don't fool yourself into believing that Toscannini's is some earthy all natural product that differs so much from soft serve. Guess what....they use a commercial base for all their ice creams.

                                                                If you've ever made ice cream yourself, you'll notice that it is like soft serve at first, but then is placed in the freezer to harden (or "ripen"). The soft serve machines just rapidly freeze the mix for immediate serving....mixes aren't all that different from "hard" ice cream, and are perfect safe if the machines are well maintained. I worked at a Carvel-type store when I was a teenager and the machines were cleaned every night and kept impeccable:

                                                                Soft serve ingredients for vanilla:

                                                                Carvel: milk, skim milk, cream, sugar, egg yolks, mono and diglycerides, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, cellulose gum, guar gum, polysorbate 80, polysorbate 65, carrageenan, natural and artificial flavor

                                                                Dairy Queen: Milkfat and nonfat milk, sugar, corn syrup, whey, mono and diglycerides, artificial flavor, guar gum, polysorbate 80, carrageenan, and vitamin A palmitate.

                                                                Toscannini's burnt caramel: cream, milk, sugar syrup, corn syrup, buttermilk powder, carob bean gum, guar gum, lecithin, carrageenan and sugar.

                                                                1. re: Science Chick

                                                                  Where'd that "like" button go, again?
                                                                  Nice post, SC.

                                                                  1. re: Science Chick

                                                                    Thanks for posting this. I remember looking up JP Licks ingredients recently when we got a birthday cake from them to check for allergens and was surprised how many extra ingredients the ice creams had. None of these are going to stop me from eating ice cream, but it was surprising.

                                                                    Are there any ice-cream places (ie. not restaurants) that make and serve ice cream not made from a commercial base and are just made from milk, cream, sugar, egg yolks and whatever the flavor is?

                                                                    1. re: Klunco

                                                                      I was at Area Four a few weeks ago for lunch, and we had a dessert that was two house-made soft-serve flavors. I think one was sour cream and one salted caramel. They were in a sundae with some crumbled house-made cookies and maybe some caramel syrup. It was DIVINE. And definitely tasted like there was nothin' but cream & sugar & flavors in there. Worth asking about to find out for sure - and worth going to try it! (not to mention all the other goodies there - really like this place.)

                                                                      GG
                                                                      http://www.semisweetonline.com

                                                                      1. re: Klunco

                                                                        http://www.bensonsicecream.com/ I don't know for sure, and I am not wading into the Facebook quicksand to follow that link, but am inclined to think Benson's is free of chemical sleight-of-hand, since they make their fruit ice creams only when local, ripe fruit is available. They appear to be sticklers about their ingredients.

                                                                        1. re: greygarious

                                                                          Don't get me wrong, Toscaninni's only uses a base, which is where the stabilizers are found...they then add their fresh flavors, etc. Benson's may do the same...if they make it on site it is still "homemade".

                                                                      2. re: Science Chick

                                                                        Wow, Tosci's uses stabilizers? My dreams shattered. Is it actually possible to make smooth ice cream with just dairy, sugar and eggs?

                                                                        1. re: Luther

                                                                          Haaaaaaaagen Dazs vanilla?

                                                                          1. re: FoodDabbler

                                                                            Yeah if they can do it why can't a place that serves it fresh?

                                                                            1. re: Luther

                                                                              I really think it is a matter of convenience. Making a huge volume of ice cream would require incredible quality and safety issues with the eggs (plus if you were making a custard-type base, think of all the cooking!). The base is easy to use and can be modified as the purveyor sees fit, and the gums give texture where eggs would in a custard. So I'm betting that Tosc's just found a base they liked alot and moved forward from there. I wouldn't say they "use" stablilizers themselves, just a base that already has some in there.

                                                                        2. re: Science Chick

                                                                          This business of commercial bases and their discontented stabilizers has been discussed before. How do the swine at Haagen Dazs get away without adding anything to cream, milk, eggs, vanilla and sugar in their vanilla?

                                                                          Not that I doubt anybody whose first name is Science, but where did you get your ingredient information?

                                                                          1. re: FoodDabbler

                                                                            Looks like copypaste from here

                                                                            http://www.bgood.com/ingredients.php

                                                                            1. re: Luther

                                                                              Breyer's Natural vanilla used to be just cream, milk, eggs, vanill and sugar, but I notice now they add guar gum.

                                                                            2. re: FoodDabbler

                                                                              @FoodDabbler - I got the info here:
                                                                              http://www.livestrong.com/article/552...

                                                                              But I have known for years that they use a base. For a while (~7-8 years ago), they were letting Coney Island in West Newton sell their product, and I had a long talk with the owner about ice cream. I still love Tosc's anyway.......

                                                                              1. re: Science Chick

                                                                                Livestrong is a pseudocontent "articles" site so I'd bet $100 the author of that "article" took the ingredient list from that B.Good site. I wonder if that's reflective of the base they use for all their flavors.

                                                                                1. re: Luther

                                                                                  Probably, although the sugar syrup is in a different place in the ingredients order. They sell the burnt caramel in pints in stores sometimes, so I'll bet you could get the ingredients of of there as well. I would be surprised if they used a different base for different ice creams...why bother? Only exception being sorbet, of course (I hope they don't use a base for that....I don't even know what kind of base that would be!).

                                                                            3. re: Science Chick

                                                                              Hahaha, "earthy"