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Sunshine or no sunshine, the capital boasts plenty of purveyors of top-quality ice cream, enough to warrant more than the odd cone or two during the year. From the classic and cool, to the wacky and avant-garde, Square Meal has the inside scoop.
More olde-worlde in style than some of its competitors, this tiny ice-cream shop (which started out in France) goes heavy on chocolate – it sells confectionery and extra-dark liquid versions of the brown stuff (with cream), as well as high-falutin' flavours such as the decadent chocolate grand cru Ecuador 70%.
Remember when Maggie Thatcher lent her intellectual clout to the science behind Mr Whippy? Well, the geeks are back – but this time they’re cooler. In the gastronomists’ ice-cream-shop-cum-laboratory, creatively flavoured custards and creams (such as coffee-and-doughnuts flavour) lie waiting to be blasted with liquid nitrogen, with super-smooth results.
The flavours at this gelateria – which originated in Notting Hill then branched out to Chelsea and Covent Garden – aren’t as out-there as some of London's other offerings, but they’re executed with panache. The owners eschew additives and emulsifiers in favour of natural flavourings and a homespun approach, with commendable results. Liquorice is a rich and strong curiosity, pink-grapefruit sorbet is a fresh, light palate-cleanser and the crema Dri Dri is wonderfully smooth.
Freggo, the British outpost of Argentinian chain Freddo, offers sweet treats such as dulce-de-leche ice cream late into the night. Its booths (regally done up in purple leatherette) and silver glitter balls, are perfect for the post-club Piccadilly crowd to wind down the night in.
The husband-and-wife team behind this string of gelaterie, which started in Richmond, are true fanatics of gelato. The menu is constantly renewed, with new flavours regularly introduced, from amaretto, to yoghurt and plum, to panettone at Christmas. Dairy-free ice creams and gluten-free cones are also offered, so everyone can get in on the experience.
Italian tourists in Covent Garden might forget which country they’re in if the word-of-mouth reports about this place are anything to go by. Gelatorino offers ice-cream flavours from zabaglione to gianduia (a chocolate-and-hazelnut speciality from Turin); plus, there’s a hot-chocolate fountain. The shop also sells cakes, chocolates and other treats local to Turin.
Gelupo, Bocca di Lupo’s sweet-toothed partner in crime, is fast becoming a way of life for Soho-ites who drop in for classic stracciatella gelato or wackier flavours such as pine-nut and aniseed. The store also serves Italian coffee and deli favourites from Bocca di Lupo, opposite. Gelupo also offers a UK-wide delivery service, bringing ice cream to your door within 24 hours of ordering.
Probably the most headline-grabbing ice-cream parlour in the UK, if not the world. The Icecreamists even incurred Lady Gaga’s wrath in 2011 – not to mention that of the health-and-safety executive – by selling a ‘Baby Gaga’ flavour, the first ever breast-milk ice cream, served with a rusk and an optional shot of Calpol or Bonjela.
Luxury chocolatier Paul A Young's top-quality products translate only too well to ice-cream form. Indulge in moreish sea-salted caramel or white-chocolate-and-raspberry flavours, topped with cocoa nibs and chocolate sauce and served in a paper cone.
Scoop is a favourite among those in-the-know, with branches in Covent Garden and Soho. The menu makes a lot of the credentials of each ingredients, from free-range eggs to single-origin coffee beans, and this attention to detail shines through in the flavours, from matcha (Japanese green tea) to torroncino (almond nougat).