I’ve been to Sammy Q’s Gelatoland in Fort Collins Colorado twice now, once in the late summer with my sister and once today with my husband. My first experience was, in a word, horrible. It’s a local place and I really do want to support local businesses, so I decided to give it another go before giving it a negative review. After today’s experience, I can honestly say I can’t see myself going back.
Some background on Sammy Q’s: According to Yelp, the Loveland-based owners went on vacation in New York, fell in love with a gelato shop and decided to bring it back to Old Town Fort Collins. They opened the store in the early summer of 2011 and heavily advertised the fact that they do not use any mixes, powders, pre-gels or preservatives.
The first time I visited Sammy Q’s, the customer service was seriously lacking. The server was cold and didn’t even greet us when we came in, though we were the only ones in the restaurant. We ordered our gelato and sat down to eat. The shop inside is very, bare and the signs in the window were cut from recycled poster board leaving the inside windows with a bit of a hodgepodge look.
As for the gelato? It was…bad. Just bad.
I tried three different flavors: raspberry ghost chili, green tea and white chocolate strawberry cheesecake. The raspberry ghost chili was all spicy and no raspberry. The green tea was extremely bitter. It tasted like eating over-steeped tea leafs. The white chocolate strawberry cheesecake only tasted like white chocolate and very sweet white chocolate at that.
The only thing that really stuck out to me about all the flavors was the texture. I mostly remember this because I got home and started scouring the internet to answer the question: Why would gelato be so stringy and sticky? According to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Aug 1984, this can be caused by a lack of air or the storing temperature, though I called another gelato store and they said they’ve only seen that when there has been too much dextrose added.
When I went back today I knew I wanted to try the same three flavors to see if I’d just had a bad batch. I tried some others, too. My husband had the green tea, and later described it as, “gross; it didn’t taste like green tea, it just tasted sweet.”
I tried the raspberry ghost chili and was struck by the improvements! I got a nice sweet raspberry flavor and then the heat of the ghost chili came up at the end. It was actually an enjoyable experience. Feeling a renewed sense of hope for Sammy Q’s, even though the decor hadn’t changed much and the customer service was only marginally better. So I ordered the white chocolate strawberry cheesecake(which ended up being much much better than the first time), salted caramel pretzel, and lemon blueberry. And then while we were checking out I impulse ordered the peppermint patty hot chocolate float.
While all of the gelato flavors I had to day where better than my first trip (with the exception of the green tea) the texture was still so funky. In my husband’s words “the flavor is there but the texture is hard to get past, if you can get past it at all: Chewy, gluey, stringy, and occasionally cement like.” And while the gelato portion the salted caramel pretzel was really great it had pieces of pretzel in it, unfortunately the pieces where so soft and flavorless if I didn’t have the visual reference I wouldn’t have known what it was.
The Hot Chocolate Float was a DISASTER. We watched the server mix powder and water, then drop in a chunk of their peppermint patty gelato. It tasted like hot chocolate I would make at home with a little bit of a peppermint flavor. After a few drinks each, this is what it looked like.
At $3.50 I had “a you have to be kidding me” moment.
Final Thoughts: I don’t think that I’ll be going back. Small gelatos, which can have three different flavors, are $3.50 a piece… and I think that’s overpriced for the quantity and quality of the gelato.
Sammy Q’s Gelatoland Website