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quirky ice-cream flavours in London
© Scott Chasserot

London's most quirky ice-cream flavours

Salt and vinegar sorbet, anyone? We've got the capital’s most unusual ice creams licked

By Emma Hughes
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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.

London's most quirky ice-cream flavours

quirky ice cream in london, lick, durian
quirky ice cream in london, lick, durian
© Scott Chasserot

Durian at Lick

Restaurants Italian Soho

£3.50 per scoop

Durian is a south-east Asian fruit that smells like someone has opened Dracula’s coffin. For reasons best known to Lick, the ice-cream parlour has made a gelato out of it. It is actually quite nice, and tastes mostly of custard. ‘People are pleasantly surprised,’ says my server when I pop in to sample it. Still, I notice that he is standing well back.

quirky ice cream in london, sorbitum ices, olive oil and pine nut
quirky ice cream in london, sorbitum ices, olive oil and pine nut
© Scott Chasserot

Olive oil and pine nut at Sorbitium Ices, Kerb

Restaurants Street food King’s Cross

£2 per scoop

To stop this one from tasting like a deep-fat fryer, Sorbitium Ices only uses extra-virgin olive oil with a delightfully clean, grassy flavour. Because there is no cream in the custard base, the fat content is (ever so slightly) lower. As well as toasted pine nuts, there is a smattering of candied orange pieces. Strangely compelling.

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quirky ice cream in london, ice cream union, cornflake
quirky ice cream in london, ice cream union, cornflake
© Scott Chasserot

Cornflake at Ice Cream Union

Restaurants Ice-cream parlours Bermondsey

£3.50 per scoop

You don’t eat cereal because you love it. Nobody does. You eat it so you can slurp the sweet, malty milk straight from the bowl afterwards, like some kind of demented kitten. At Ice Cream Union, they skip straight to the good stuff by steeping cornflakes in milk overnight, then churning the results. A totally acceptable breakfast.

quirky ice cream in london, ruby violet, basil and lemon
quirky ice cream in london, ruby violet, basil and lemon
© Scott Chasserot

Basil and lemon at Ruby Violet

Restaurants Ice-cream parlours Tufnell Park

£3 per scoop

Ahh, pesto – the backbone of every dinner you made between the age of 18 and, um, last night. In frozen form, though? Surely not. Happily, Ruby Violet’s basil-based ice cream is rather more sophisticated than a student supper – a clean, citrusy, not at all soapy taste of Tuscany.

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quirky ice cream flavours in london, chick 'n' sours, cinnamon bun dough soft-serve
quirky ice cream flavours in london, chick 'n' sours, cinnamon bun dough soft-serve
© Andy Parsons

Cinnamon bun dough soft-serve at Chick 'n' Sours

Restaurants Chicken Dalston

£5 per bowl

Flavour-wise, the guys at Chick 'n' Sours have form – Chick 'n' Sours used to do a Weetabix soft-serve (see number 3). Whether you think its latest creation rules the roost or is a clucking nightmare will depend on how much you like cinnamon buns. And Mr Whippy. For most right-thinking people, this is heaven in a bowl.

quirky ice cream flavours in london, la grotta ices, peach leaf
quirky ice cream flavours in london, la grotta ices, peach leaf
© Scott Chasserot

Peach leaf at La Grotta Ices

Restaurants Ice-cream parlours London

£3 per scoop

La Grotta Ices’ Kitty Travers believes in eating your greens. Her super-seasonal selection features everything from pea pods to cucumber, depending on the time of year. Peach leaf, surprisingly, tastes nothing like peach – it is altogether more complex and vegetal. Imagine the smell of a just-rustled hedgerow and you are halfway there.

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london's most quirky ice cream flavours, blu top, california camp fire
london's most quirky ice cream flavours, blu top, california camp fire
© Scott Chasserot

California camp fire at Blu Top

Restaurants Street food Camden Market

£2 per scoop

Pine ice cream? As in air-fresheners? Do not adjust your sets. Street-market favourite Blu Top’s most offbeat flavour is inspired by the good life on the West Coast – and it is a beauty. The aforementioned aromatic base is laced with dark maple syrup, and pecan streusel adds crunch. California, here we come…

london's most quirky ice cream flavours, lab g, beetroot
london's most quirky ice cream flavours, lab g, beetroot
© Scott Chasserot

Beetroot at Lab G

Restaurants Italian Brixton

£2.70 per scoop

Lab G’s quirkiest regular ice cream – caramelised onion makes the odd guest appearance, as does parmesan cheese – comes in the same shade of purple as Barney the Dinosaur. But don’t let that put you off. There is no vinegary aftertaste or suggestion of a flowerbed (always a risk with real-life beetroot) but just a well-balanced, savoury-sweet mouthful. Unexpectedly refreshing.

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london's most quirky ice cream flavours, la gelatiera, porcini chocolate cream
london's most quirky ice cream flavours, la gelatiera, porcini chocolate cream
© Scott Chasserot

Porcini chocolate cream at La Gelatiera

Restaurants Ice-cream parlours Covent Garden

£3 per scoop

The team at La Gelatiera are not shy about using leftfield ingredients – there is a Cornish blue cheese and walnuts ice cream on the menu. But it is their inspired pairing of porcini mushrooms and chocolate that gets our vote. Creamy, earthy and ever so slightly skunky, this is one for the grown-ups.

london's most quirky ice cream flavours, heddon street kitchen, salt and vinegar
london's most quirky ice cream flavours, heddon street kitchen, salt and vinegar
© Scott Chasserot

Salt and vinegar at Heddon Street Kitchen's Ice Cream Bar

Restaurants Contemporary European Regent Street

£4 for children, £5 for adults

If you have ever spent an evening trying to surreptitiously pick a shard of Kettle Chips out of the roof of your mouth, you will be relieved to hear this is not, in fact, full of bits of crisps. It is actually a weirdly moreish sorbet lolly, with just a hint of something citric. You will have to get a move on, though, as it is only around for the summer...

Find more ice-cream fun in London

London’s best late-night ice-cream spots

Restaurants

There is no better way to end an evening out than with an ice cream. And with London’s night tube service up and running, you have got even more time to sample the very best cold stuff that the capital has to offer, from cones to cups and lollies.

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