Thursday, November 29, 2012

Froyo files: Orange Leaf (Southpark Meadows)

I was so excited to see that Southpark Meadows finally had a froyo place.  But things didn't go quite as I had hoped.

This is going to be more of an existential treatise on sampling and frozen yogurt than a complete review of this place, mostly because I can't do a full review.  Because instead of providing sample cups, an employee comes out from behind the counter with sample cups to prepare them for you.  Hmm.

Orange Leaf: 9600 South I-35, Suite B-200, Austin, TX

When I visited: Friday, November 22nd, around 2 pm

Cost per ounce: 47 cents

Number of flavors: 16

Sorbet options: no true sorbet

Experience: Without ranting, let me describe what happened and how it made me feel as a customer. With the cashier by your side, you literally stand there and say, 'Okay, I'll try Gingerbread,' they put a little in the cup, hand it to you, and watch while you eat this sample.  You repeat this as many times as your personal tolerance for awkwardness allows, or until more customers come in and that one person on duty has to tend to them.  And then you are there, waiting for them to return and standing in front of the forbidden yogurt.

I only tried three flavors before the whole thing was just too awkward to stand and I was ready for it to all be over.  There were other flavors I would have liked to try, especially since they actually had quite an impressive number of them on offer.  But it felt a little ridiculous to go down the line and do them all like that. Pineapple was dairy-free, but felt more like a sherbet than a sorbet.  But it was still pretty good, and swirled with the Coconut next to it, became a good Pina Colada.  The aforementioned Gingerbread was also good, though I think with any of these spiced flavors in froyo I tend to want them stronger, creamier, just.... -er.  Similarly to the Spiced Apple Cider at TCBY earlier.

Maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but it felt a little like I was being accused of being a moocher, that I couldn't be trusted to sample for myself without gobbling up more than my share.  The more I sample, though, the more I buy.  And the more I tell all of you how good everything was.  Okay, there aren't that many of you, but still.  One last point: with prices hovering around a dollar for every two ounces, I think part of the business model is built-in sampling.  I understand the theory of increasing profit margins by decreasing the amount you give away for free.  But here's the actual result: my mom and I usually spend around $10 between us for each stop.  If the offerings are particularly delicious, maybe even $15.  What did I spend here? Less than $3.

I took a small swirl of pineapple and added a few pieces of fruit.  Tasty, and can I just say, I loved their spoons.  But something about the non-self-service just seemed so...odd.  I mean, if the sampling isn't self-service, what exactly is the point of it being self-service, as opposed to putting the yogurt behind the counter and having someone swirl it for you the way they scoop it in an ice cream shop?

Worth a revisit?  Yogurt-wise, yes.  Experience-wise, sadly no.  Just too complicated.  I think I'll go to the Teapioca Lounge right next door instead.

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