Saturday, February 23, 2008

Swirls in Costa Mesa

1799 Newport Blvd
Costa Mesa, CA

(This place is giving out free yogurt today only, February 23, 2008.)

Was invited to a food blogger meetup earlier today at a brand new frozen yogurt place. All us bloggers got there about an hour before the place was ready to start serving yogurt and just through a complete fluke I ended up being the very first person to get a frozen yogurt from there but since I was running off to a lunch meetup I had to practically swallow my yogurt in a single gulp without really being able to analyze it properly.

One interesting thing about this place is that its menu board is actually a TV screen:

My yogurt was mango-passionfruit flavor with gummi bears, strawberries and kiwi fruit as toppings:

After you are handed your frozen yogurt there is a "condiment bar" where you can sprinkle different flavorings onto it. I went a little crazy sprinkling papaya, watermelon, and honeydew flavoring on to mine:

The whole decor is right out of Willy Wonka (especially if Gene Wilder was Asian) and they have a special room for the kids to eat their yogurt:

With so many froyo places now people may end up just going to whatever one is closest to them but I did like my hastily eaten yogurt from Swirls and am interested in going back and trying one of their crepes.

Comments on "Swirls in Costa Mesa"

Blogger Julian Hsu said ... (February 24, 2008 at 9:51 AM) : 

Nice review and pictures! I was late to said meetup, but still early for the grand opening event, so ended up missing everyone. (Sorry!)

But I don't think I could've said it better than you have. The decor was amusing, and the children's room was kind of neat. I wish I'd tried those condiments.

They didn't have green tea or original running at the time (oddly, my children love green tea confections of any kind, and were disappointed to settle for mango-passion fruit), so I can't comment on those, but I thought the yogurty-flavor was stronger than the Irvine original Yogurtland that serves as my local place. The blueberry flavor had both strong fruit and yogurt tastes to it, surprising for a nonfat.

I'm beginning to see the reasons behind the success of that Yogurtland- it's not necessarily that the yogurt tastes better, it's the customization possibilities. That appeals to even the youngest of consumers. My little ones preferred it because they didn't want to be limited to one flavor and topping.

As for Swirls, it looked like they'd really poured major effort and dollars into looking slick and polished- quite an arms race we have in small business franchises these days. I can't imagine how much it'd cost to open one of these. I think the owner lady and many of her friends and extended family were there to wish her well, and so do I. I just can't say I'd trek 25 minutes across town for her. :-)

Blogger joy said ... (February 28, 2008 at 11:21 AM) : 

An Asian Willy Wonka -- what a scary (and fun) idea!

I'm with Julian on this, though; I'm too hooked on the flavor cornucopia at Yogurtland to be lured away by "simpler" fro-yo places now.

Blogger Chubbypanda said ... (March 2, 2008 at 11:37 PM) : 

I wasn't particularly blown away by the yogurt. It was a bit too sweet for me, although I did notice the stronger yogurt taste. There was also a powdery bitterness that was particularly off-putting. This is pure conjecture, but I'm guessing that Swirls isn't one of the live culture fro-yo places.

On the other hand, I really enjoyed the kitschy decor and the customizing powders. If would probably have been a much more pleasant experience if it hadn't been for that wretched DJ.

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