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.
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?