Published: 18th July 2016
When I was young, my grandfather worked in the offices of a famous ice cream restaurant in Chalk Farm. Not far away from my primary school, it was the destination for many start-of-holiday celebrations. My friends and I had countless tours of the factory and most excitingly the freezers.
I got older and went onto secondary school in a completely different area. My grandfather got older and retired. And most sadly, the Marine Ices restaurant was sold. While there is still a smaller shop a little further towards Camden on Chalk Farm Road, the factory itself got relocated to Suffolk.
However, because of my early ice education, I think I am the perfect candidate to tell you where the best places to find the best ice cream in London.
I might be slightly biased because Udderlicious is my local, (ice cream parlours are like pubs, they’re always going to be better if they’re closer) but it is some of the best ice cream I’ve had in London. The flavours are exciting and there is a new flavour chosen by the public every month, so there’s always an excuse to revisit.
For people who like their ice cream with an extra splash of science. Chin Chin Labs, in the heart of Camden Market, is like Heston Blumenthal on a budget and with edible flavours. The ice cream is frozen with liquid nitrogen in front of your very eyes. Order a brownwich (an ice cream and brownie sandwich) then take a stroll down the canal towards London Zoo and Primrose Hill. Could you have a more idyllic summer afternoon?
If Chin Chin Labs is for science-y people, Amorino is for people who like their food to be pretty. Order whatever flavours you want and you will be presented with an cone that looks more like a rose than an icecream: perfect instagram fodder.
I won’t judge you too much if you prefer to call it gelato but I will point you in the direction of Soho where you will find two branches of Gelupo. Some flavours are a little wacky, so adventurous kids will have a field day. Blood orange stracciatella and Bacio are worth tasting, but maybe not together.
Can’t eat dairy or have any other allergies that could affect ice cream eating? Firstly, I am so sorry, that is terrible, but all is not lost. Yorica on Wardour Street in Soho makes vegan, gluten free, dairy free, nut free and egg free ice cream. I do hope you like coconut, as that was the predominant flavour I got when I tried their cookies and cream concoction. It did, however, have the right ice creamy texture and was much sweeter than I expected.
SNOG is frozen yoghurt and as an ice cream purist, I was somewhat reluctant to include it in my list. However, if you find yourself on Southbank this summer and fancy a sweet cold snack, the bright pink bus is hard to miss. Plus, with loads of flavours and toppings to choose from, and seating on the top deck, it’s ideal for kids.
Gaetano Mansi opened his first ice cream parlour in Camden in 1931, virtually ever since Marine Ices has been a North London institution. The old restaurant walls used to be lined with photos of celebrity devotees and after trying the ice cream you can see why. It’s unfussy, creamy and delicious. If you live in the Chalk Farm area, you can even get it delivered to your house with Deliveroo.
So you want a truly English experience? Something a little decadent and fit for royalty? There’s only one thing to have: a Fortnum & Mason Knickerbocker Glory. The sundae of dreams is the kind of ice cream kids remember forever. On a side note, Fortnums are also great at giving free samples so if you’re not entirely convinced that an ice cream can be worth £12 you can at least try before you buy.
At the end of the day, if you find yourself in a park on a sunny day and hear the twinkling tune of an ice cream van coming round the corner, nothing can beat a 99 Flake.
Do you know any better places for ice cream? Comment below – I’m always on the lookout for new places to try.
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