Beat the Heat at Yogurt Culture Company: A First Look

Not sure if you’ve noticed, but it has been stinking hot lately. So hot, that I seriously have trouble getting my appetite up, which is quite rare. This weather makes me crave something cool, no… cold to eat. It reminds me the summer after my sophomore year in college when I worked at a park and lived in a camper with no A/C. As unhealthy as this may sound, it’s true: I “ate” nothing but milkshakes for dinner for three months because it was too hot to prepare or eat anything above freezing (and you might actually be surprised at how filling a tub of frozen cream can be).

When I heard that the Yogurt Culture Company had opened its doors, and they serve up frozen yogurt, I thought, “I’m gonna eat myself a jinormous frozen yogurt for lunch and nobody can stop me.” It’s not soda after all, it’s yogurt! And not just any yogurt, but a brand you’re probably familiar with. According to the New York Times Diner’s Journal, this place is the brainchild of Dannon.

My colleague and I walked a few blocks from our office to scope out the new restaurant, located on Park Avenue between 41st and 42nd, not too far from Grand Central Station. The yogurt shop’s feel is both old-fashioned and ultra-modern at once. When you walk in, the first thing you see is a rusty-wheeled… yogurt wagon??? with vats of yogurt and fruit flavoring hanging out onboard. Just opposite of this somewhat bizzarre yogurt wagon is one of several iPad menus jutting out of the walls of the restaurant, right above the countertop bars that line the internal perimeter.

Behind the counter, there’s a frozen yogurt machine that churns out chocolate, dulce de leche, Greek, and vanilla flavors. And there are oodles of add-ins including fresh fruit like blueberries, strawberries, mango, and pineapple, and dry ingredients like nuts, sprinkles, and several different types of granola.

The menu is fairly simple. You can design your own yogurt, either fresh or frozen, add in a flavor (banana, blueberry, honey, mango, peach, raspberry, strawberry or caramelized pineapple), then a topping, all of which are on display right there before your eyes. They also have “Y.C.C. Originals” and juice blends. (This menu can also be accessed from their website.)

I also noticed there were some refrigerated savory lunch options that were all about $8.00. The “sirloin cheddar with horseradish aioli” and the “fire roasted chicken, pancetta, and pesto panini” sandwiches looked like something that would be in an upscale deli, but the ingredients sounded good. They also had couscous, garden and ceasar salads.

The buddy who joined me on this adventure is a yogurt connoisseur, and she ordered the large fresh yogurt smoothie with strawberries. I was definitely having frozen yogurt. I’m a big fan of the citrus-cream combination of the classic Dreamsicle, and that’s what I had in mind before I even walked in the door. Since they didn’t have orange, I went with a fresh mango smoothie, and that day the Greek frozen yogurt already had honey flavoring. Of course I ordered a large, although they call large “parfait”. Sounds daintier than it is.

Both of us enjoyed our treats, which cost just under 6 bucks each. This isn’t so bad when you think about the volume compared to how expensive yogurt can be when you’re buying it at the grocery store. My friend skipped adding any fruit flavoring, and only had strawberries. Although she really enjoyed the yogurt, next time she said she will add flavoring because it could’ve been a tad sweeter. Mine was delightful. I could definitely taste both the mango chunks and the honey flavoring, and it’s pretty obvious this stuff is made with full-fat milk. It was incredibly creamy. I also loved that there are different straw sizes; I nabbed a monster straw and I had no trouble at all slurping up my thick smoothie and mango chunks.

If you like yogurt, you should definitely give this place a try. Even if you’re not a yogurt lover, think frozen yogurt, and think smoothies. They’ve even got chocolate. It’s a perfect way to beat the heat when you’re just so hot that anything else sounds like a work-up.

Yogurt Culture Company, 125 Park Avenue, 212-867-7126

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