Perhaps it's the quality of the ice cream (so creamy and smooth). Or perhaps it appeals to the glutton in me (whatever I want on it? I'll take it all!). Either way, when I think of an easy way to treat myself I think of a waffle bowl at Cold Stone Creamery.
On my first visit, the good-better-best sizing approach left me ordering the love it (the "better" of the three sizes: like it, love it, and gotta have it). I was fooled by their intelligent pricing structure and left with more than I should have been able to handle. One love-it cone later and I knew it was just too much; their portions are for giants. (Giants, ice-cream fiends or for sharing, I'm not sure.) Still, I managed to get each delectable bite down.
A national chain, Cold Stone offers a list of 33 pre-designed ice creams. You can either take their recommendations or pick your own mix-ins. Be forewarned: Like pizza, the ice cream costs quite a bit with each additional topping if you decide to "mix it yourself". On first impression, the mint ice cream drizzled with fudge, M&Ms and brownie in a waffle bowl may seem like a good idea, but you may want to cut back a little--maybe just mint, M&Ms and brownie--before the ice cream approaches $10 a pop.
In other genius moves, this ice cream parlor is open until 10pm on weeknights and 11pm on Friday and Saturday. In the summer, I love grabbing dinner in Fremont, walking to Cold Stone for a cone and then taking a stroll along the Burke. It's a pleasant way to burn off some of the thousands of Coffee Lovers Only (coffee ice cream, Heath bar, almonds and caramel) calories that go down so easily.
Besides ice cream, Cold Stone also sells milk shakes and ice cream cakes. The ice cream cakes, like their ice cream cones and bowls, are huge. Delicious, but huge.
At the end of the day, Cold Stone is a splurge--financially and calorically. Sometimes, though, you need a little bit of both. Or as the case may be, a lot of both.