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Ice cream is brilliant – and London’s offering is among the coolest. Whether you opt for stracciatella, a knickerbocker glory or a perfectly formed cone holding your favourite flavour, we’ve got the inside scoop (sorry, not sorry) on the city’s best ice-cream parlours.
1. Ruby Violet
While Ruby Violet’s ice cream van may be old-school, its flavours are anything but. Whether you opt for pink gooseberry hazelnut meringue or matcha green tea, every scoop is made with organic milk and free-range eggs. Locals will be familiar with the shop’s Tufnell Park institution – now there’s also an offshoot on Granary Square, just behind King’s Cross station.
Crafted in a family-run kitchen in Highbury, Nonna’s Gelato is a British-Italian hybrid we’re very much about. Seek them out on Saturdays at Broadway Market in Hackney and Sundays at Church Street Market in Stoke Newington (they’ll be the ones on a vintage bicycle with a freezer on the back). Choose from salted toffee apple and Amalfi lemon with rosemary.
The sister brand of restaurant Bocca di Lupo oozes sophistication. Gelupo is likely to be crowded whatever time you visit – but that snaking queue is a hallmark of great ice cream. Gelupo’s central Soho location makes it a great after-dinner spot. Choose from a line-up of sorbetti and gelati – the ricotta with sour cherry is a winner.
Mr Whippy ain’t got nothing on this place. Soft-serve ice cream gets an upgrade at this outlet in Boxpark, Shoreditch. With four basic flavours (vanilla, matcha, charcoal and coconut) to choose from, it’s the Insta-worthy toppings that have earned Soft Serve Society its cultish status. Salty popcorn and smashed Pocky sticks make a delectable pairing.
With a focus on taste, LaGelatiera roll call of flavours changes constantly. Honey with rosemary and orange zest one day, extra dark chocolate with Calabrian chilli the next. This place makes everything on-site daily, and promotes all-natural and preservative-free treats.
Yolkin gets its name from it’s core ingredient – egg yolks. In an effort to cut down on food waste, ice creams are made using egg yolks left over from baking batches of macarons (the delicious building blocks used to make their uber-popular ice-cream sandwiches). Try the Oreo-matcha flavour from this Chinatown parlour – it really hits the spot.
Ice cream fit for a queen – really! Danieli’s vanilla ice cream was served to Her Majesty on her 80th birthday. Wood panel interiors make this parlour feel like Florence, and those partial to gelati can gorge on custard and cherry or pistachio and amaretto flavoured delights. For something less authentic (but no less flavoursome) change it up and order a fro-yo to go.
Its Billionaire Soft Serve priced at £99 caused a riot and the inventive “Avolato” – part ice, part avocado – feels a bit like bandwagoning, yet somehow Snowflake’s appeal endures. With a menu spanning sundaes, waffles, milkshakes and affogato, and with more than 40 flavours to taste test, it’s perhaps best to be a repeat customer here. Ashamed of your penchant for desserts? Divide your time between the South Kensington, Soho, Marble Arch, Bayswater and Selfridges branches.
For fresh, summery and fruity flavours (we love the rhubarb with raspberry ripple), La Grotta Ices is hard to beat. Sold from a roving three-wheeled Piaggio Ape mini truck (a former fixture on Maltby Street), these frozen treats are also stocked in several London stores. As the colour-popping ice creams begin to populate our Instagram feeds, we’ve decided to stock up on its quince and bramley apple pie flavour before word spreads too far.
The French luxury bakery, Ladurée has made macaroons even sweeter. Placing a scoop of ice cream in between our favourite pastel-hued patisserie to giddying effect (maybe it’s all the sugar?), the result is a chic ice-cream sandwich or “iced macaroon”. Choose from lemon, rose or honey sorbet and enjoy in a pistachio-striped cup. Our order: fior di latte with bergamot ice cream.
11. Chin Chin Labs
Full disclosure: vanilla ice cream is just a little bit bland. Throw out your classicist approach to dining and make tracks for Chin Chin Labs. Anarchists of the ice cream world, Chin Chin Labs take an experimental approach. Using liquid nitrogen to freeze the mixture faster for smoother results, it offers flavours that veer towards the outlandish.
Vegans rejoice! As London’s first dairy-, egg-, nut- and gluten-free ice-creamery, Yorica! does plant-based ice cream like nowhere else. The ice cream is made with rice milk (the chocolate and vanilla soft serve are impossibly tasty) and a vegan frozen yoghurt selection of on-trend flavours is also available.
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