As much as we'll always love a classic Mr Whippy, it's essential to discover the innovation happening in the world of gelato, where deliciousness and experimentation reigns. So, here is our guide to London's very best artisan ice cream. From worldly flavours (orchid powder ice-cream anyone?) and toppings you would have never imagined, to unconventional ice cream sandwiches.
London's Best Artisan Ice Cream Spots
27th July 2023
If ever there was a time to discover SPHERE's edit of London's best artisan ice cream spots, it is now. From handmade Italian gelato to ice-cream churned with liquid nitrogen, to Anya Hindmarch's Tomato Ketchup flavour, it's time to grab a scoop - rain or shine.
London's Best Artisan Ice Cream Spots
The Anya Hindmarch Ice cream project is back for a sequel after popular demand for their unexpected ice cream treats. Hand-made in small batches in Devon are the more acceptable flavours from Rice Crispies to Maldon sea salt (and chocolate), amongst the more questionable Heinz tomato ketchup and soy sauce. Keep it safe or choose to take the plunge.
The Anya Hindmarch Ice Cream Project is not your average ice cream parlour visit, sample the weirdness at 11 Pont Street from 29th June to 27th August.
Chin Chin Labs
Holding the title of Europe's first liquid nitrogen ice cream parlour and deemed 'the best ice cream parlour in England' by the Times, Chin Chin Labs is truly a rarity begging to be explored, both on and offline. The futuristic parlour churns their ice creams with liquid nitrogen to fully eliminate any unwanted ice crystals, providing a perfectly smooth result. The menu is constantly changing and differs slightly between locations, including classic yet enriched flavours from tonka bean to burnt butter caramel.
Delving far beyond a sprinkling of hundreds and thousands, Chin Chin's toppings deliver the perfect touch to creating a show-stopping cone of ice cream. Certainly individualistic, these range from hazelnut sand and bee pollen honeycomb to vegan-friendly strawberry sauce and cardamon powder.
Bilmonte in Soho is for the people who buy a Cornetto purely just to get down to that little cone of chocolate at the bottom. Their cups of daily-made Sicilian gelato have the option to follow their 'drip-code' - the opportunity to pour a cup or cone brimming with melted chocolate or pistachio sauce over your ice cream. Definitely a Cornetto upgrade.
Located at 30 Great Windmill Street, Soho. Find out more about Bilmonte's menu and story.
Darlish Covent Garden
Imagine all the syrupy nutty goodness of a square of baklava, stuffed to the brim with a smooth scoop of gelato. It exists, exclusively for the summer in Covent Garden, at Darlish. Although their baklava ice cream sandwich is the star of the show, their botanical flavours honing inspiration from the Middle East are part of what make it so special - from orange blossom and pistachio to chai and cinnamon.
Darlish reopens for summer at its Covent Garden home at St Martin's Courtyard on 2nd June.
Claiming to make their Turin-born gelato 'the way it used to be'. Grom strip back to the basic art of using the finest ingredients available to deliver quality in every scoop and swirl. Their ever-changing flavour profile reflects the produce markets of Italy and also features the best other countries have to offer - from Guatemalan coffee to Ecuadorian Chocolate. What is more, Grom is every coeliacs dream by uniquely being completely gluten-free ever since they began whipping up their own biscuits and cones from scratch.
Reenie's Primrose Hill
Like stepping into a neon-lit diner scene from a 1950's Hollywood movie, Reenie's provides a retro feel like no other with their frothy root beer floats and vibrant stacked cones of traditional flavours. Several of which have been granted Great Taste Awards, including their Strawberry Buttermilk ice cream with strawberries making up a third of every scoop. Opened in 2021 by actress Sirine Saba (who just completed a brilliant star turn in Phaedra at The National), Reenie's was born out of the desire to connect with community following the pandemic. Its location by Primrose Hill and extended menu offering pup-friendly ice cream make Reenie's the perfect stop to grab a treat during a dog walk before treading uphill.
Served at Em Sherif's restaurant on the second floor of Harrods and in their own shop within St Christophers Place, Festok brings the rustic flavours of Lebanon to London in the form of artisan ice cream. Their bespoke selection includes turmeric, Achta (orchid powder), rose, date and carob flavours amongst sorbets and vegan Mehgli ice cream - inspired by the Lebanese spiced rice milk dessert.
Sample their specialties including the Achta and cotton candy dessert at one of their locations or enjoy at home via Festok's delivery across London.
From Manila with love and seriously instagrammable is Filipino dirty ice cream shop, Mamasons. As dangerously addicting as it sounds, dirty ice cream is simply a nickname for traditional Filipino ice cream churned by hand using ice, salt and a steel pot. Mamasons, with main locations in both Chinatown and Kentish Town Road, has a number of notable menu items. The most popular, and most posted, being their bright lilac ube (purple yam) ice cream. Enjoyed on top of an ube brownie, in a cone or inside a Bilog - their award winning toasted pandesal ice cream sandwich.
They strive to bring a new flavour to their profile each month, known as their Espesyal flavour. Recently their most talked about have been their salted egg yolk ice cream, featured on Chef's Talk and their watermelon guava mint sorbet, their tropical May release claiming to be the best sorbet in London.
Anita's St Martin's Lane
Anita Gelato, a worldwide sensation from the heart of Tel Aviv is not to be missed on your next wander through the West End. Located on Upper St Martin's Lane and offering heaps of gelato to try, don't be shy to ask for a spoonful before committing to a flavour.
Although, we highly recommend their best selling milk chocolate pretzel flavour, a decadent yet balanced treat that never disappoints. With a section of their gelateria dedicated to their refreshing range of frozen yoghurts and a variety of sugar-free and vegan-friendly options - Anita Gelato is a crowd-pleaser for everyone.
This article was updated on July 27th 2023