‘One scoop or two’ is so last season. Traditional ice cream outlets are undergoing an epic makeover with three new ventures in the capital guaranteed to get us excited come rain or shine. The Chin Chin Laboratorists in Camden is Europe’s first nitrogen ice cream parlour, Spitalfields' Le Bouchon Breton is launching Le Palais du Glaces and renowned chocolatier, William Curley has introduced an artisan dessert bar in his Ebury Street store.
Inspired by the likes of Ferran Adrià and Heston Blumenthal, former city broker, Ahrash Akbari-Kalhur and his wife Nyisha Weber gave up their jobs two years ago to research nitro ice cream and now their labours have paid off with the opening of their first venture.
Bespoke flavours from vanilla to the more exotic basil are mixed in seconds in front of wide eyed customers via an ingenious process which sees liquid nitrogen hosed into a metal jug from a 180 litre tank. Staff wearing leather gloves and safety glasses - looking more like mad scientists than Mr Whippy – top off the concoctions with violet marshmallow or peanut brittle and you’re good to go!
Apart from the unmistakeable wow factor, this instant freezing avoids the tiny ice crystals present in regular ice cream so the result is an altogether smoother taste sensation. The redoubtable duo are even investigating a glow-in-the-dark version!
However if molecular ice leaves you cold, then Le Bouchon Breton’s giant brandy glass style coupes served at the new Palais du Glaces are surely the haute cuisine of frozen pudd. Breton’s pastry chef has devised a repertoire of classic French style sundaes. Served up in giant goldfish bowls and intricate sugar lattice work, you’re not quite sure whether to dig in or just gaze in awe. We’d recommend the former though when it comes to the Chocolat and Hazelnut Liegois with white, dark and vanilla ice cream, hot chocolate sauce, chocolate chips, crushed hazelnuts and Frangelico Chantilly cream.
Finally, William Curley’s Belgravia salon serves up a lot more than your average chocolate bar. The chocolatier’s new dessert bar features creations such as Mille-feuille au chocolate - layers of hazelnut daquoise and chocolate cremeaux with an orange sauce and muscavado ice-cream and then Rhubarbe sable – layers of shortbread sandwiched with rhubarb parfait and topped with berry sorbet and rhubarb poached in ginger syrup. There’s even an a la carte menu from which you can top and tail the main event with a pre-dessert and petit fours!