What better way to cool down on a hot summer’s day than with a scoop or two of ice cream? Especially if it’s freshly hand-crafted from fine ingredients, to a creative recipe. If you’d rather have a cone topped with damson ice cream or fig and ricotta sorbet than your classic rum ‘n’ raisin, here are five of the best places for you to chill.
Ruby Violet, Kentish Town
Run with old-school glamour but contemporary flair by ex-food photographer Julie Fisher (the name is a nod to her maternal grandmother), this North London ice cream hot spot developed from a stall at a local market. As Julie says ‘ice cream makes people smile’ and Ruby Violet’s certainly does that. As far as possible, Julie subscribes to the fresh, seasonal, local philosophy; look out for peach and rosewater, damson, English strawberry, Seville orange marmalade ripple and Kentish Town honey.
Gelato Gusto, Brighton
This sleek North Laine parlour makes its own gelato daily, using milk and cream from a local Sussex dairy. Don’t go expecting a simple strawberry or vanilla cone; the current range stretches from sea salt caramel, and black truffle and honey gelato to sorbettos of alphonso mango, earl grey tea, or even vegan-friendly coconut milk.
If that still sounds too tame, go with an empty stomach and fill up on their latest invention; the ice cream burger (actually ice cream in a hot brioche bun).
From gin & tonic gelato made with the Edinburgh Gin Distillery’s Seaside Gin, to a salty, crunch-packed maple, bourbon and bacon flavour and a popular cardamom bun flavour made with local brand Peter’s Yard’s famous baked goodies, this West End parlour uses natural ingredients to produce really stand-out, hand-crafted gelato.
Many are seasonal (look out for fig & ricotta sorbet) and the shop runs an ice-cream cart at events around the city. It’s also famously pooch-friendly, providing dog-only gelato.
Harriet’s Jolly Nice, Gloucestershire
Set in a former filling station outside Stroud, what started out as a mobile ice cream parlour, selling from a gleaming Airstream trailer, is now a stylish farm shop and café, and a must-visit in the local area for gourmet burgers-to-go. But it would be daft to visit without trying some of the chilled stuff.
Ice cream is still a major part of the business, and made with some of the poshest ingredients around (Madagascan vanilla pods, artisan coffee, honey from owner Harriet’s own farm, Valrhona chocolate, forced rhubarb from the Yorkshire Triangle). Flavours are seasonal but look out for beetroot and raspberry, honey and lavender, plum and star anise, gooseberry and elderflower and date, coffee and cardamom.
Ginger’s Comfort Emporium, Manchester
A mobile ice cream van plus a sit-in diner on the first floor of Afflecks, an emporium of independent stores in the city’s Northern Quarter, Ginger’s specialises in refreshingly creative flavours (mint and fennel, plum, gin and juniper and blackberry, rose and sage sorbet, pear and tonka bean) and equally unexpected ice cream desserts; the French Elvis is legendary, a medley of hot French toast, filled with salted caramel and peanut butter ice cream, Skippy peanut butter, fresh banana and homemade raspberry sauce.
Marine Ices, Chalk Farm
Ditch dessert at the restaurant and head to Marine Ices for late-night gelati instead. A 3-minute walk from Chalk Farm tube station, this long-established parlour (it was founded in 1931) makes its ice cream on a Suffolk farm just outside Bury St Edmunds.
It’s more gelato than ice cream – because of the dreamy, creamy texture – and flavours are well-balanced, genuine and delicate. Our favourites include banana (it tastes like those foam bananas you get in a pick ‘n’ mix) and roasted pistachio. The latter is a triumph – it uses real pistachio paste as its base, and as such it tastes exactly like the real thing. Coconut, white chocolate and blueberry muffin are all equally authentic.
If you’re sitting in, try one of their ice cream sundaes. There are 11 to choose from (including classics such as peach melba and Knickerbocker Glory), but we’d recommend the mighty Coppa Aldo: generous scoops of tiramisu and chocolate gelato, banana coins, hot fudge sauce and hazelnut nibs… good luck with finishing the whole cup!
Photographs: Kiran Master, Danielle Wood
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