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London's most quirky ice-cream flavours

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

© Scott Chasserot

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

Durian at Lick

£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.

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Soho

Olive oil and pine nut at Sorbitium Ices, Kerb

£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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King's Cross

Cornflake at Ice Cream Union

£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.

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Bermondsey
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Basil and lemon at Ruby Violet

£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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Kentish Town

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

£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.

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Kingsland

Peach leaf at La Grotta Ices

£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
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California camp fire at Blu Top

£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…

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Camden Town

Beetroot at Lab G

£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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Brixton

Porcini chocolate cream at La Gelatiera

£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.

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

£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...

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Mayfair

Find more ice-cream fun in London

London’s best late-night ice-cream spots

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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By: Emma Hughes

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