London has no shortage of great ice cream, but that doesn’t always guarantee a great sundae. Sometimes the best gelaterias are just too purist about their ice cream to properly sully it with wild excess the way a good sundae demands you do.
Lightness of touch and delicacy of flavour is a great thing when you’re after an unadorned scoop of artisan fennel-seed gelato. For a sundae, though, you need a lavishness of spirit and a YOLO attitude to how much dairy, chocolate or sugar one person can handle.
With that in mind, here's a guide to London's best ice cream sundaes on offer right now.
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The Hot Paklava Meltdown at Persepolis
This Persian grocery shop has a tiny, vegetarian café set up in between the shelves of Middle Eastern spices. Resist the call of the Saffron Banana Split and Turkish Delight Sundae, hard though it is to do. The real star of the menu is the Hot Paklava Meltdown.
'Evil in a sundae glass', as described by owner Sally Butcher, this is layers of hot baklava, kaymak (a clotted Turkish yoghurt) and ice cream — the challenge being to get through the sundae before the baklava melt it all to a creamy syrup. Like all the food at Persepolis these are ridiculously good-value — the Knickerbocker Glory and Hot Paklava Meltdown can both be vegan on request.
Persepolis, 28-30 Peckham High Street, SE15 5DT.
The Honey Bee at The Parlour
The perfect place to swing by if you have an empty stomach and full wallet. In true Fortnum & Mason style, The Parlour has old-school British glamour absolutely nailed with Instagram-worthy decor, marble counters and whimsical caricatures adorning the walls. And on the menu? An eight-strong sundae list plus the option for the picky among us to build their very own. But why would you go off piste when The Honey Bee sundae is calling your name?
It's a triumph of delicacy. Zingy lemon sorbet pairs with lip-smackingly sweet honeycomb ice cream, before being smothered in crunchy ginger biscuit chunks. A pretty honeycomb and lavender flower tops it off, and before long you'll be eyeing up your second. There may even still be room for the chocolate fudge sundae afterwards.
The Parlour at Fortnum & Mason, 181 Piccadilly, W1A 1ER.
Fruit Fest Sundae at Snowflake
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This isn't just ice cream, this is award-winning ice cream. Snowflake in Soho is not only home to one of the biggest gelato cabinets in town (reason enough to swing by), but it has also won the Great Taste Supreme Champion Award in the past for its delicious raspberry sorbet. So what else to choose then, but the Fruit Fest Sundae which comes with three fruity sorbet flavours of your choosing, plus a cascade of fresh fruit on the top. It's entirely vegan, entirely drool-worthy, and possibly the most virtuous ice cream sundae option on this list.
Snowflake, 102 Wardour Street, Soho, W1F 0TP and there are further outlets in Bayswater, South Kensington, Westfield and Marble Arch.
The Chocolateer at Creams Café
Sweet Jesus, there's a lot to pig out on here. So many sundaes, in fact, that they've been divided into subsections: fruity, choc/toffee and the intriguingly-named 'exotic'. You have to be a pretty tough cookie to pick just one, but for chocoholics there's nothing finer than the Chocolateer.
Two types of gelato — toffee butterscotch AND salted caramel— form the base and are unceremoniously piled with vanilla ice cream, milk chocolate sauce and cubes of toffee fudge. And to finish? It's all served in a milk chocolate cup. We're getting palpitations just thinking about it. They sure know how to stick to a theme at Creams.
Creams Café, venues all over London including London Bridge, Hackney, Brixton and Hammersmith. See website for other locations.
The Knickerbocker Glory at Morelli's Gelato
The Knickerbocker Glory at Morelli's is as retro as you'd hope for from an ice cream dynasty dating back to 1907 — the Morelli family has been selling homemade gelato for more than a century, and opened its first seaside parlour in 1932.
The sundae menu is long and elaborate, but for an old-school, seaside classic you can’t beat the Glory. Hard to tell if what you’re feeling when you scrape up the last spoonfuls is the weight of tradition, or the kilo of cream, strawberries and syrup you've just eaten.
Morelli’s Gelato, 20A The Market, The Piazza, Covent Garden, WC2E 8RB.
Brownie Sundae at Udderlicious
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This charming little independent ice cream cafe lets its patrons choose the ice cream flavours every month, resulting in an ever-rotating selection that is displayed up on the wall in photo frames. Any of the scoops on offer, which can range from Eton mess to toffee popcorn, can be made into a one, two or three scoop sundaes, with your choice of hot sauce, cream and toppings. Or go one step further and chuck a brownie into the mix. It nestles in between your ice cream scoops and bring you all sorts of sundae satisfaction, says Londonist writer Ruth Hargeaves.
Udderlicious, 187 Upper Street, Islington, N1 1RQ. Also in Covent Garden
The Tokio Sundae at Tombo Café
This is a divisive entry. A mash-up of matcha ice cream, azuki paste, date syrup and granola sounds less like a sundae than it does like a Prêt breakfast pot, despite a token amount of (matcha) brownie in there.
It doesn’t taste spartan though. And the nu-rave green of the ice cream is appealingly weird, like snacking on cartoon ectoplasm. Whether or not you can get past the fact that it might actually be doing you some good, we leave up to the individual conscience. But if you're in need of a more definitive sugar hit, Tombo's London Sundae has the requisite caramel, chocolate and cookie crumble to hit the spot.
Tombo Café, 29 Thurloe Place, SW7 2HQ. Other locations in Soho and Fitzrovia.
Endless Love at Motown
Most of the sundaes on the menu at this small, no-frills dessert bar are ornate and chocolatey — there’s more Ferrero Rocher in The Temptations sundae than at one of the Ambassador’s parties. But for something as simple and lovely as its name go for the Endless Love, a red velvet cake, ice cream and cream combination.
Motown Coffee and Desserts, 157 Bethnal Green Road, E2 7DG.
Coppa Nocciola at Harrods Ice Cream Parlour
Yep, they sell ice cream sundaes in Harrods. Yep, they're absolutely delicious. Yep, you may faint when you see the prices. Sitting mostly in the £15-£20 price mark, you have to really, really want a sundae from this glamorous ice cream parlour. But hey, this is one of the world's most famous department stores and there's always a steady queue of people ready to fork out such a ludicrous amount. The Coppa Nocciola, a heady mix of silky chocolate and vanilla ice creams adorned with honeycomb and hazelnuts, doesn't look the most exciting of the bunch but it is delicious and definitely big enough to share.
Harrods Ice Cream Parlour, 87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, SW1X 7XL.
Cloud 9 at Soft Serve Society
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Many people flock to Soft Serve Society in Shoreditch for a taste of the charcoal and coconut ice cream. Grey ice cream certainly is an unusual sight, but even more unusual is an ice cream sundae with a flippin' massive cloud of candy floss sat on top of it. The one-of-a-kind Cloud 9 concoction starts simply enough with vanilla soft serve. But chuck a bunch of strawberry pieces, strawberry sauce, popping candy and some berry-infused candy floss on top of it, and you've got something altogether amore interesting.
Soft Serve Society, Unit 35 Boxpark Shoreditch, 1-20 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6GY.
Crispy Sundae at Tsujiri
Other than the odd flake, there's not usually enough crunch in an ice cream sundae to warrant giving it a name like 'crispy'. But here enters Japanese tea house and green tea dessert masterminds, Tsujiri. There's nothing traditional about these sundaes, but that doesn't make them any less tasty.
The crunch in the Crispy sundae comes from a perkily-placed rice wafer, nestled atop a swirl of soft serve matcha ice cream. Soft and chewy chestnut, deliciously sweet red bean paste and a bed of rice krispies finish off what may well be the most unusual sundae on this list. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it, it's a matcha made in heaven.
Tsujiri, 47 Rupert Street, W1D 7PD. See website for other locations.
Afters in Tooting (and other locations) for the sheer size of their sundae menu — 25 as standard, and the option to make your own.