Along with card tricks and inhaling helium from balloons, ice cream is one of the few childhood joys that holds up just as well in adulthood. When the sun’s out there‘s no shortage of places dispensing the frozen stuff, but a couple of tubs of Wall‘s in the chiller do not an ice-cream parlour make. From goat‘s milk ices to the fanciest toppings and superlative sundaes, Eater’s got the scoop on the very best in the city.Read More
14 Impeccable Ice Cream Shops in London
Here’s where to find the best scoops across the city, right now
1. The Ealing Grocer
Ice cream is cold. Before the Captain Obvious memes roll in, the obviousness is the point: the very best ice cream makers know that temperature is a modulator of flavour, a factor to balance when composing a dish. At the Ealing Grocer, a newish, wondrous food store from Andy Harris and Katie Millard, soft serve summer is just beginning, with freeze adding a jolt to rich vanilla, and apricots and strawberries introduced to pale custards. Right now, it’s saffron.
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2. Badiani Gelato Chelsea
This is a bit of an Italian roll-out, with the Florentine chain making its mark across London. But, particularly at this small Fulham parlour with a striking bright orange frontage, the gelato delivers the goods. Ripples of chewy, almost caramelised pistachio paste cut through a base of sugar, cream, milk, and eggs — no vanilla or anything else — in pistachio “buontalenti,” while a dark chocolate sorbet is a thing of chewy, rich beauty.
3. Diwan Damas, Marble Arch
London W2 2HX, UK
The city’s foremost place for booza-al-haleb, made with milk, salep powder, and mastic gum and pounded — not churned — to a dense, chewy, unrivalled frozen texture before being rolled in pistachio. Formerly known as Damas Rose and still doing the business on Edgware Road.
4. Marine Ices
Like George Formby eating a stick of rock on a donkey, Marine Ices encapsulates a certain kind of high-summer more-is-moreness. It‘s now operating out of bijou premises on Chalk Farm Road rather than the ocean liner-a-like building on Haverstock Hill it took its name from, but the mid-century Britalian vibe has survived the downsizing. Chocolate fudge brownie, malted milk and tutti frutti are the standout flavours, and the Coppa Stefania — chocolate and hazelnut gelato, hazelnut nibs, amaerna cherris and hot fudge sauce — is a many-splendoured thing.
5. Chin Chin Labs (Chin Chin Ice Cream)
The original Camden parlour for Chin Chin’s famous ice creams (churned with the aid of liquid nitrogen for a rich, dense, almost chewy texture.) They are available by the scoop with toppings, but there are also a dozen or so full-on dishes making use of them, from a tiramisu sundae to nachos with chargrilled pineapple, salted-caramel sauce, dark-chocolate ice cream and blue-corn waffle tacos.
Summer’s official starting-gun isn’t swallows or the clocks going forward — it’s the first cone of creamy fig gelato from Nardulli, eaten on Clapham Common before the grass gets obliterated by the South West Four stage. The decor at Lorenzo Nardulli’s parlour is definitely no frills, but the ornate tubs of traditional liquorice, Bacio and coffee have a grandeur all of their own. Also available are affogati, ornate ice-cream cakes and waffles. When it‘s sunny the line stretches most of the way back to the tube station; go now while the weather’s still making its mind up.
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7. Ruby Violet
Apparently, this one is a favourite of James Corden’s. But don’t be deterred — Ruby Violet is a lovely, good-natured little parlour with a mind-boggling selection of modern classic flavours (raspberry, white chocolate and cardamom; matcha green tea; black sesame). Can‘t choose? Get the six-for-£15 “tasting menu”. There‘s a bigger branch in Kings Cross now, but the original continues to attract attention at the highest level.
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For sheer chiller-cabinet chutzpah, nobody does it better. Gelupo, opposite Jacob Kenedy’s Bocca di Lupo on Archer Street, has been shaking things up since it first opened in 2010, and continues to do so, thank to punchy flavour combos and a constantly changing roster of specials. Reopened to reassuring havoc in Soho, the specials include the Italian Easter cake Colomba, and a millefoglie with puff pastry folded into custard base.
9. Mamasons Dirty Ice cream (Chinatown London)
Florence Mae Maglanoc and Omar Shah’s Mamasons remains one of London’s biggest ice cream hits, with ube, milo, and calamansi among the flavours. Expect bilog, the pandesal ice cream sandwich, to go quickly every day. Locations in Kentish Town, Chinatown, and Westfield.
10. Udderlicious Ice Cream
Sure, the Upper Street Ottolenghi is nice, but does it have a swing seat? It does not. Its neighbour Udderlicious does, though — all part of its endearingly jolly, school’s-out feel. There are 20 choices every day, with chocolate-based flavours a speciality: Black Forest gateau, chocolate peanut butter, coconut and chocolate, dark chocolate and sea salt sorbet, espresso and chocolate biscotti... Grassroots input is valued (well, this is Islington), and every four weeks visitors are asked to vote for the flavours they’d like to see on sale the following month. Past victors have included apple crumble and custard and, er, seaweed.
11. Romeo & Giulietta Artisan Gelateria
Stoke Newington’s neighbourhood gelateria is a quiet hit, going about local business through lockdowns and beyond. If anything based on ricotta is on, order it, while the extra dark chocolate sorbet is reminiscent of Florence gelateria Neri’s version (that is to say, it’s outstanding) and the parlour’s speciality, “biscokrok,” is an Italianate riff on cookies and cream that will convert anyone hardened by a bad experience with Ben and Jerry.
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12. Leila's Shop
London E2 7JP, UK
A good few of the soft serves available at this sleepy European grocer are recipes from Kitty Travers — London’s fruit ice cream master par excellence. But so far it’s hazelnut that steals the show, before summer’s berries take over the script.
13. La Grotta Ices @ E5 Bakehouse
E5 Bakehouse isn’t the only stockist for Kitty Travers’s ice cream — find it at Leila’s Shop and General Store too. Wherever it is, just find it: it is probably the best frozen thing to eat at the city most of the time, thanks to its ferocious devotion to making the most of seasonal fruits that results in a technicolour palette of ice creams and sorbets that somehow taste more of their flavour than the fruit itself.
14. Happy Endings Ice Cream
London E3 4AT, UK
Happy Endings’ selection of ice cream sandwiches and soft-serve ice cream have long been loved as a dessert option at many of the city’s best restaurants, but Londoners can go a step further and visit the Mile End arch on certain occasions, or order for delivery via Deliveroo.
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