Foster’s Freeze is a California soft serve chain that also serves burgers, franks, fries and such.
The menu has a list of local favorites. A lot of people at the Pinole location were ordering the pastrami sandwich.
A heap of fat-streaked pastarami is warmed up and pushed around on the grill
Put aside everything you think about pastrami. This isn’t it.
There is so much wrong with this sandwich such as the hotdog relish on it … and yet … the whole transforms into a different thing … a mound of low-class, salty, greasy tastiness.
“Do you want onions and cheese?, they asked.
Were they grilled onions or melted cheese … nope. Just slices of raw onion and a cold pieces of cheese added at the end. The pale soft submarine bun had a swipe of yellow mustard, the relish and end to end pickles.
The pastrami was more like bacon … pastrami bacon … on the verge of crispy but not quite.
And then it hit me … this had the same appeal as my beloved McRib. Many of the same elements were there. The bun was similar. There was mystery meat, but in this case pastrami.
It was wrong … wrong like dating that bad boy from the dangerous part of town. You don’t want your friends to know about it. They might think badly of you if they knew about your love.
So don’t come back here saying you tried it and hated it. You were warned. I have my epicuran dark side and this appeals to it like the McRib.
This is also about nostalgia on this last summer weekend … about going to get a hot fudge sundae … nothing special … chocolate soft serve blanketed in thick warm fudgy sauce and topped with aeresol whipped cream, chopped peanuts and a marchiano cherry with stem.
I’ve also tried the cherry shake at Foster Freeze. Though there were lots of pieces of cherry, it was like the cherry in canned filling. I think a better choice might be the fresh banana shake … maybe with chocolate ice cream.
Not all Foster Freeze locations are the same. Some are very worn. The Pinole location is a perfectly preserved snapshot of the past without trying. It probably looked the same way in the 60’s.
The primary color scheme of red, yelllow and blue is used for accent. There’s an old Coke machine, neon diner clock and sepia photos of Foster Freeze stores and employees from the 1950’s. There are plastic booths and tables with chairs. There’s a large parking lot in front.
There’s a plaque awarding owner Ming Yeung acknowledgement for ‘store beautification’.
I still don’t think Foster Freeze is as good as Carvel’s in terms of soft serve. It is a little sweeter and the chocolate doesn’t have as much flavor. But it It reminds me of being a kid and trips for an ice cream with my parents on a warm summer day.
A few weeks ago, while getting a classic Foster’s vanilla soft serve, I got hooked on the ambiance of the Pinole Foster Freeze… and seeing children, moms, dads, senors, workers, students … just folks …just going out with the family for an ice cream … nothing organic or fancy. Just kids and summer and a soft serve cone..
Wiki on the history of Forster Freeze
993 San Pablo Ave, Pinole, CA 94564