February 16th, 2011
Sweet Lola’s Yogurt Bar: An Even Sweeter Reputation
In 5 Words: Frozen, Dessert, Probiotics, Wonka, Haagen-Dazs
Prologue: Awesome. A Whole Foods is coming to a Montrose near you. Now I won’t have to drive out of my way to make a lunch of cheese samples or make lewd jokes about fruit and vegetables I’ve never seen before. When they weigh my food-line carton at the register and I make a scene pretending that someone sabotaged me by slipping in an extra pork chop, I’ll have a shorter drive home to lock myself in my room/pig out/cry/watch Kevin James movies. Who are they to judge a 6 lb. lunch?
The best thing about this grocery cathedral, as we all know, is the power that the place gives you to pull a Mrs. Doubtfire and pretend that you’ve cooked a succulent, gourmet meal at home for your date, when you really just played video games all afternoon or got kind of drunk watching Discovery Channel. My fiancée is a nurse (The medical kind, not the naughty kind…I think.) with a weird schedule we have to plan around, so we’re celebrating Valentine’s Day this evening. Under pressure I’m still going to pronounce quinoa three different ways, but if you ask the little lady after tonight, she’ll tell you that I sure as hell know how to cook the stuff. Thanks, Whole Foods!
After a St. Valentine’s Day feast, I will be jonesing for a sweet fix. While I usually just throw a half-eaten honeybun in the microwave and share it with my dog Maggie, I wanted to celebrate the arrival of decent weather with some sort of frozen confection. And while that would usually entail scraping the frost from the fish stick box and making a homemade snow cone with peach schnapps, I’ll class it up a little and venture into Midtown.
This is It Soul Food, Front Porch Pub, Cyclone Anaya’s and CoCo’s Crepes are neighborhood anchors on the strip of Gray St. between Valentine and Bagby, and those places get you thinking how excellent the location is. Yet some of the other places that have popped up recently have left heads being scratched. A pretty gross Peruvian restaurant came and went and was recently replaced by a Café Layal, and Double Cross Lounge is trying to decide between “uber-personal service” and uber-douchebaggery. While the new Mediterranean addition seems to be taking off, and Double Cross has the Hearsay pedigree to buy some time to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up, a little yogurt shop really had to roll the dice on such a tumultuous stretch. If luck be a lady though, Sweet Lola is her name.
Sweet Lola is by no means brand spankin’ new, but the fact that it’s stuck around belies a degree of quality right off the bat. What El Tiempo is to Taco Cabana, Sweet Lola is to places like Berry Pop and Swirll. Not that there’s anything wrong with Taco-C (if you live on your mother’s couch, are a college student or are stoned), but Sweet Lola takes the time to ensure that your first visit won’t be your last.
While most chain yogurt places feel like a sterile psych-ward or Willy Wonka’s television room, Sweet Lola is more akin to a charming little tea party. There are plenty of coffee mugs, candles and kitschy little knick-knacks for your date to examine and yell at you for touching. Your lady may even tell you to go wait outside on their patio, but it’s all good in this weather, as the people-watching on the block is top-notch. The wonderful lady behind Sweet Lola, or one of her cordial family members, may be behind the counter to greet you and weigh your purchase. They’re closed on Mondays because, well, Mondays suck and would you keep your venture open on Mondays if you had the option? Even with the promise of sunnier climes as of late, Sweet Lola is operating under winter hours, meaning I will have to wait until 6 p.m. to get my yogurt on.
Instead of relying on the mundane chocolate, strawberry and vanilla, or 20 zany selections that all taste the same for the most part, Sweet Lola does just a few, 100% percent organic flavors. And she does them well. White Apple. Sugar Plum Dream. Dreamy Dark Chocolate. Cinnamon Cream. They’re all fat-free, all exceed requirements laid forth by the National Yogurt Association (Yes, that exists!) and are chock-full of probiotics, making Sweet Lola a multi-cultural affair. (SWIDT?!)
Let’s get real though. It’s all about the toppings and Sweet Lola’s are the kinds that make you want to skip the yogurt entirely. Homemade, sea-salted peanut butter croutons melt in your mouth, cinnamon-toasted pecans provide a zesty pop, and dark chocolate pomegranate slaps you in your dirty mouth for having ever said words like Haagen-Dazs. The self-proclaimed “artisan toppings” Sweet Lola offers don’t add up to the cheapest treat, but that’s not something Sweet Lola is even pretending to aim for. They’re just aiming for delicious.
Sorry if you were expecting a tirade about the merits of the latest pop-up bar with a one-word name. And even though I highly doubt I’m the first to throw out my opinion on Sweet Lola, I’m going there anyway because she certainly deserves some love. Truth of the matter is that sometimes the best way to stay trendy in a revolving-door atmosphere is to simply stick around and offer a good product. By doing just that, Sweet Lola has developed an even sweeter reputation.
Friend Sweet Lola on Da Book, and make sure to give them a shout at (713) 521-1333 to plan birthday parties or the perfect belated V-Day celebration.
Where - Midtown [304 Gray St., Houston 77002]
What – Dessert. Delicious Frozen Yogurt Dessert.
Wear – Dress up or dress down. It don’t matter.
How Much – Suck it up, it’s dessert.
Hours – Closed Monday; Tues – Thur 6PM to 10PM; Sat – Sun 12PM to 10PM
Web – Website; Facebook; Twitter