Are you tired of eating the same old ice-cream, with only the ‘how long to brain-freeze’ game to keep things interesting? What you need is a hand-picked list of the best signature flavours, from the capital’s finest ice-cream makers, so you can spend all summer sampling and judging them for yourself. Now then.... which is your flavourite? (Flavour favourite. Yes, it’s a thing).
Combining scented marzipan gelato with juicy organic cherries and pieces of roasted almonds, this is a delicious bite from the past. For more taste sensations, try the pistachio, fig and mandarin; the banana and salted peanut; or even the new-in mulberry*. (*Bush not included.)
16 Brewers Lane, TW9 1HH
Slick, slender Covent Garden parlour Gelatorino takes its cues from the Italian region of Piedmont, so it’s no surprise that their signature coffee-with-choc-chips is named after its capital. They add cold espresso to still-churning gelato, then drizzle in a jug of 72% Ecuadorian dark chocolate, which instantly sets into tiny shards.
2 Russell Street, WC2B 5JD
How's this for democracy? Every month, there’s a competition for customers to suggest a new Udderlicious concoction; February’s was so good, it’s become a keeper. They melt Callebaut Belgian chocolate into a dairy base, chill it, churn it with cold espresso, then sprinkle it liberally with broken amoretti biscotti biscuits. Perfection.
187 Upper Street, N1 1RQ
There’s blueberry, popcorn, or even ‘Marathon’ flavoured ice cream here (that’s Snickers to you young ‘uns). But the signature is the ‘Ferrero Rocher’. Rich dairy ice cream comes rippled with a praline cream, chocolate and hazelnut paste, candied roasted almonds, and delicate flakes of wafer. All that’s missing now is an ambassador.
168 Highgate Road, NW5 1QS
Every summer, when the folks at this quirky Tufnell Park parlour mix up their signature flavour, they have to turn the air-con vents off. Why? Because the luscious not-too-sweet ice cream and sticky honeycomb is made from local Kentish Town honey, so as soon as they pour it out, THE BEES TURN UP.
118 Fortess Road, NW5 2HL
This Borough Market gelateria sticks exclusively to premium versions of the Italian classics: stracciatelli, baccio, amarena, chocolate. In fact, its signature mascarpone & fig is about as ‘modern’ as it gets. Rich, creamy, and studded with whole caramelised figs, it’s a little taste of paradise.
4 Park Street, SE1 9AB
Here's the inside scoop: you can order the fabled popcorn ice cream at this farmyard-styled diner to go (£2.50 cheaper than eating in). They infuse milk with toffee popcorn, blend it, then run the final base through a ‘soft serve’ machine before topping with more popcorn and pant-wettingly good hot fudge sauce made with smoked butter.
18 Charlotte Street, W1T 2LY
The blood orange granita at this Soho gelateria may be pretty special, but try the signature gelato, too – a heavenly combo of sheep’s ricotta, finely ground bitter almonds and plump sour cherries. Though the Amaretti and apricot is good too. Oh and the rhubarb crumble. And the salted almonds.
7 Archer Street, W1D 7AU
Ice cream you can chew? Oh yes. This mobile van’s cardamom-laced, pistachio-brittle studded signature is a type of Syrian ‘booza’ – a fragrant ‘frozen milk’ pudding, thickened with ground orchid root (salep), which makes it stretchy and so solid (no crew) that it can’t go in the mixer, but has to be bashed with a mallet.Various locations, including Saturdays at KERB, Lewis Cubbit Square
£3.95, bowls only
For Willie Wonka-esque wizardry in a microscopic space, head to Chin Chin, where this seasonal signature reappears every summer. This year, the lovingly slow-cooked base will feature an infusion of local hay and a heady berry purée. Like every Chin Chin ice, it’s ‘set’ using liquid nitrogen, complete with clouds of billowing ‘steam’.
49-50 Camden Lock Place, NW1 8AF