Creamy scoops of pastel pistachio gelato; heat-busting ice lollies; sticky-fingered ice-cream sandwiches – the capital’s frozen delights are numerous and a little thing like lockdown hasn’t stopped the churners and makers of this city supplying iced treats to the masses.
From parlours to deliveries, here’s our pick of London’s top spots for getting the scoop…
Chin Chin Labs
Marshmallow fluff, sprinkles and a side of science are all toppings on offer at Chin Chin’s Camden and Soho branches, where icy concoctions get whipped up with the help of some sub-zero nitrogen. The result? Super smooth scoops of wacky flavours including burnt butter caramel, cherry-shiso leaf and avocado with fried corn. Try a scoop on its own, or pick from a menu of treats that involves opulent ice cream sandwiches, avocado iced tacos and incredible sundaes. They’re also sending deep chilled scoops nationwide, so you can have -196 degree C tubs delivered direct to your door.
49-50 Camden Lock Place NW1 8AF and 54 Greek Street W1D 3DS
Ice Cream Union
After providing scoops to Londoners for over 12 years, Ice Cream Union have found the knack for developing winning flavour combinations. The secret? The hefty dollop of attention to detail they put into sourcing quality ingredients for their Bermondsey-made ice cream. Mango sorbet is made with alphonso mangos, a lemon sorbet uses Sicilian citrus only and the watermelon ice can trace its fruity flavours right back to the Zerbinati family, who grow melons under the ripening rays of the Mantua sun. Y
ou’ll find 20 flavours on the board at their Chelsea destination, with 12 fixed favourites alongside a rotating cast of guests that might include spiced pumpkin, gin and cucumber or banana split. Both shops are open for business for cone-lovers and tub-pickers alike – and they’re offering delivery, too.
Icecreamunion.com 166 Pavilion Road, SW1X 0AW and Unit 1 Discovery Business park, SE16 4RA
Lockdown has left the rebels of London’s ice cream scene serving tub-only scoops – but the lack of cones hasn’t diminished their adventures in flavour flexing. Pick up a tub or two of organic ice cream from either shops to enjoy outrageously excellent combinations like blueberry and lemon curd gelato, day-glo blood orange and Campari sorbet and mint and cucumber ice. It’s all handmade in small batches at the Tufnell Park shop, alongside churned-to-order ice cream cakes and iced desserts. For now, takeaway cones have been vetoed (not Covid era-friendly, apparently) but if you’re desperate for the whole she-bang you can pick up a box of their fabulously large wafer ones to take home with your tub.
rubyviolet.co.uk 118 Fortess Road NW5 2HL and 3 Wharf Road N1C 4BZ
At La Gelatiera, adventurous flavours retain an air of sophistication (there’s no jelly babies involved here). Chocolate is matched with porcini for an earthy, sweet scoop, basil meets its match with chilli for a fresh, tongue tingling taste and Cornish blue (yes, really) pairs with caramelised walnuts for an iced take on your evening cheeseboard. Vegans aren’t left out either: the classic Sicilian pistachio has been reimaged as a sorbet, while Ecuadorian cocoa beans make their way into an extra dark chocolate dairy-free flavouring with Calabrian chilli. The gelato is churned on-site, below the Covent Garden shop. Peek down through the glass floor and you’ll catch the action. Right now, they’re offering takeaway-only scoops from all three shops.
lagelatiera.co.uk 17 Topsfield Parade N8 8PP, 27 New Row WC2N 4LA and 1 West Park Walk E20 1DH
Ever heard of Iceland’s legendary soft-serve? Us neither, until we went to Bears. Taking icy inspiration from the European country, this quirky Shepherd’s Bush-based shop serves up soft whipped swirls at both their premises on Goldhawk Road and at a Brook Green kiosk. They’re only open for takeaway at the moment (and online orders), but swing past to pick up a salted pumpkin seed nougat whip or a pyramid of cloud-soft scoop topped with runny lemon curd and just-picked basil. The toppings are – dare we say it – the highlight. Sprinkles, of course, but also fresh summer berries, chocolate raisins, crushed honeycomb and chocolate dips.
bearsicecream.co.uk 244 Goldhawk Road W12 9PE and Brook Green, Hammersmith W6 7BL
For an iced feast that’s fantastically filthy, head to the Mamasons parlours where ‘dirty ice cream’ is the order of the day. Inspired by the iced extravagances served on the streets of the Filipino capital, Manila, these two daintily decorated parlours are serving up scoops of ube (purple yam), zingy calamansi (a citrus fruit) and black coconut alongside pastel-toned doughnuts and yam-based brownies. Don’t forget to pick up a Halo Halo, either – a loaded-up dessert of coconut strands, sweet red bean, evaporated milk jelly and Ube ice cream.
dirtyicecream.co.uk 32 Newport Ct, WC2H 7PQ and 91 Kentish Town Rd, NW1 8NY
There’s no half measures at Gelupo, even in a pandemic, but it’s not just their generous scoops that makes this one of London’s top ice cream parlours. The sister establishment to Soho’s Bocca di Lupo (which sits across the road), chef Jason Kennedy has put serious effort into reproducing the rich and creamy gelato you’ll encounter at parlours across Italy, from perfecting those old-school flavours to hanging Italian film posters on the walls. Top of the scoop is their sour cherry stracciatella, but the seasonal sorbets – like the coral-coloured peach and the blushing melon – are also an excellent bet. Can’t get to Archer Street? You can now order tubs of the good stuff to be delivered nationwide.
Gelupo.com 7 Archer Street W1D 7AU
With 84 years’ experience in making gelato behind the shop, the team at Chalk Farm’s Marine Ices know a thing or two about the perfect ice cream recipe. Founded in 1931 by Gaetano Mansi, this beloved London parlour provides a crash-course in Italian excellence when it comes to iced desserts, so there’s no regretful choices when it comes to picking your scoop. Rich chocolate, sweet vanilla and Sicilian roasted pistachio sit beside tantalising cinnamon and honey and luxurious dulche de leche.
marineices.co.uk 61 Chalk Farm Rd NW1 8AN
The scoop on delivery
Gaga for gelato, but stuck inside for now? Consider a delivery from one of London ice cream producers. Take your pick…
Blush Ice Cream
The aromatic scoops of Iran’s saffron and cardamom ice creams, sweet, fig gelato in Egypt, and the creamy bite of butter pecan in sunny California – ice cream’s global appeal is what lead to the opening of Blush, a delivery-only artisan brand that produces small batches of ice cream inspired by owner Ali’s scoop tastings across the world. Head online to order rose and pistachio, orange blossom and – the sell-out favourite – peshawari. There’s new flavours on the horizon, too so keep an eye out for Masala Chai, carrot halwa and Turkish Coffee.
Fancy munching on inch-thick bars of miso salted caramel parfait, squeezed between slices of chocolate Guinness cake and dulce de leche? Head to Happy Endings’ online shop to discover the capital’s top ice cream sandwiches. Icy bites include the marshmallow-lined strawberry ‘Shorty’, the chocolate chip cookie encased Milk It and an adults-only blood orange negroni and white chocolate parfait held between chocolate biscuits.