When the capital heats up, London gets very cool at cooling things down. Forget your boring old vanilla ice cream cone. Instead find chilld soda topped with a scoop of ice cream, fish-shaped waffles filled with soft-serve, and an entire victoria sponge... frozen. These are London’s next-level chilled treats – from ice creams to lollies to coriander-spiked pancake wraps – and they’re about a million miles from Mr Whippy.
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London's best frozen treats
Venue says: “Late-night dinner in the heart of Soho. We are open for walk-ins and bookings up to 11pm every Friday and Saturday night.”
When the staff at Soho taqueria Corazon tell you this one’s big enough for two, they ain’t kidding. An edible Everest of sponge cake, homemade goat’s-milk caramel, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and marshmallow cream, it remains the only iced dessert that has ever defeated us. It’s a force for good too: £1 from the price of each sundae goes to a programme promoting literacy in Mexico City primary schools. Think of it as the world’s most delicious charity fun run.
£3.50 for two scoops
‘Is that… squid ice cream?’ at least four people asked when this arrived in the office. Pop-up owners: don’t even think about it. Jude’s summer special actually gets its inky hue from coconut ash (a kind of activated charcoal – very ‘wellness’) and its sweet, not at all suncreamy taste from the scooped-out flesh. It’s insanely rich but also refreshing. Black magic indeed. The only downside: it’ll give you a moustache to rival Poirot’s.
Did you know that one in seven of us has a gene that makes coriander taste like soap? If that’s you, turn the page now, because this dish is pretty much sprouting the stuff. Everyone else can rejoice because the dough-whisperers at Bao have come up with another corker. Based on a traditional Taiwanese dessert, their pancake wrap envelops scoops of dense, almost chewy peanut-and-vanilla ice cream, plus peanut-brittle dust, while the aforementioned greenery adds an aromatic top note.
Off you trot, candyfloss cones and bubblewrap waffles. The niche cone that will be taking over your timelines this summer is the taiyaki. A crisp-yet-fluffy, hollow fish-shaped waffle (its name means ‘baked sea bream’ in Japanese, dontcha know) filled with matcha soft-serve, this is the one to get your gills around right now. Comedy bonus: stick a wafer straw into the ice cream and it’ll look like your fish is chomping on a cigar.
From £60 (order in advance)
You fell for Blu Top’s ice-cream sandwiches when you first tried them. But that was last year. Now, you need to go harder to get the same hit. May we suggest an entire Victoria sponge in frozen form? The Sadie Brown is three slabs of vanilla cake, layers of raspberry sweet-cream ice cream and a topping of whipped cream. Best of all? Blu Top delivers. Get one sent to your desk and pretend it’s your birthday. It might as well be.
Ah, chocolate digestive: the biscuit for all occasions – apart from when it’s 30C out and an open packet of them melts against your trousers. For a warm-weather alternative, look to Happy Endings whose delightful wares are named like ‘Friends’ episodes. To create The Malty One, they combine malted milk-chocolate ice cream with oaty biscuits and malted milk crumbs, then dunk the whole lot in melted dark chocolate. It tastes even better than it looks, which is really saying something.
This one has less to do with David Cameron’s alma mater than with the time-honoured summer combo of fresh strawberries, smashed meringue and cream, thank goodness! Pan-n-Ice plonks all of the above on to a giant freezer-plate then – using a technique that founders Henry and Rob picked up in Thailand – makes the ice cream in front of your eyes before scraping it off as dinky rose-like rolls. There’s an optional topping of Percy Pigs, which we’re sure is just a coincidence.
What’s more refreshing than a chilled soda on a sunny afternoon? A chilled soda with a great big scoop of ice cream bobbing about in it, that’s what. Square Root has just launched a selection of soda floats at its Kerb Camden pitch, with flavours changing weekly, depending on what’s good; keep an eye out for the fresh lemonade with vanilla. Accessorise yours with one of Square Root’s cute-as-a-button pinwheel straws, or go au naturel. Whatever floats your float-boat.
Are there four finer words in the English language? Vanilla. Fudge. Brownie. Waffle. Winners, every one. And yet, this sundae from Duck & Waffle’s newly hatched baby brother in St James’s Market is somehow greater even than the sum of its delicious parts. For a mere £6 you get something the size of a traffic cone bedizened with brownie chunks, salted-caramel sauce and pieces of fudge. You’d be quackers not to order one.
Discover more frozen madness
To your average, jaded London foodie, a scoop of plain chocolate is terminally tedious, and vanilla is so, well, vanilla. Luckily, the capital’s ice-cream parlours are catching on. From cornflake to California campfire, here's the scoop on the city’s most weird and wonderful frozen treats.
A fish specialist in a glass pavilion overlooking Southwark Cathedral and Borough Market. It's been going since 1999, so it must be doing something right. The menu goes from beer-battered fish and chips, grilled/steamed sardines, mackerel, tuna steak, swordfish and sea bream to Thai fish cakes with sweet chilli sauce, smoked haddock rarebit, moules mariniere and grilled lobster with chips and garlic butter. Seafood not your thing? There's bruschetta (without anchovies), chicken liver parfait, steaks and a veggie dish of the day, too. A couple of cocktails are available, alongside a wine list with an understandable focus on whites.
Venue says: “It's officially summer! Grab a seat on our terrace and enjoy your fish faves!”