Feature – PIEB Top 5… Ice Cream Parlours
Handmade ice cream is so far removed from anything mass produced, it’s like comparing a sourdough loaf with a shop-bought burger bun. Proper ice cream is dense, smooth and creamy – never cloying – with lingering flavour that doesn’t leave you with a greasy mouth and a raging thirst.
A small pool of Brighton ice-cream makers are elevating this quintessential summer treat to something far above and beyond a Mr Whippy. These five make everything on-site from scratch using quality, seasonal ingredients, devising original flavours and putting hard graft into perfecting their product.
6 Pool Valley
I’ve been a huge fan of this place since it opened in 2010. I’ve not had one disappointing flavour, and owner Seb Cole’s enthusiasm is infectious. 24 ever-changing ice creams, sorbets and granitas are always available (including at least six vegan options), with staff in the kitchen constantly trying out new ideas.
Flavours are whimsical and evocative – think Pier doughnut, Honey nut cornflake, Pineapple sherbet and Battenberg, while more sophisticated options might include White chocolate cardamom, Apple tarte tatin or Lychee and mint.
2 Gardner Street
This North Laine gelateria has established itself as one of the best in town – last year, it picked up Great Taste Awards for its Black truffle and honey ice cream, lychee and rose sorbet, and pear and parmesan sorbet. The interior is gorgeous with its white and dove-grey palette and scrubbed wooden floors. 18 ice creams and 12 sorbets are always on offer; my two favourite flavours are the Ecuadorian dark chocolate and the Blood orange.
Flavours change all the time: sorbets might include Cherry cola, Aperol spritz and Peach melba, or try the Amaretto and marmalade, Buttermilk and pomegranate, and Sea salt caramel ice creams. Gusto doesn’t disappoint with the classics either – Rum and raisin, Pistachio and Strawberry are all divine.
SCOOP AND CRUMB
5-6 East Street
The couple who run this place, Jonathan and Helena Dickson, are two of the most enthusiastic people I’ve met, with a passion for ice cream evident throughout their colourful, two-storey parlour, the first to open in central Brighton in 2007.
Their Swedish waffles are popular, while their sundae menu is the biggest in the UK, with sizes and combinations to suit all appetites – my daughter loves the Baby Pink Sundae. 18 ice creams and sorbets currently include Roasted plum crumble, Gooseberry, and Cinnamon ginger biscuit – a gorgeous take on Swedish pepparkakor.
15 Brighton Place
This candy-striped, vanilla-scented ice-cream parlour and bakery is nestled in the heart of the Lanes. When I visited recently, they’d just made fresh batches of Strawberry sorbet, Turkish delight and Peppermint. Among their 16 flavours, I love the sherbetty Lemon sorbet and zesty Lime ice cream.
Now and then, they toy with savoury flavours: Blue cheese or Garlic, anyone? Milkshakes, sundaes and waffles are also available, not to mention their sumptuous cakes. Bonus points for the Beatles on the stereo.
The Open Market, London Road
The Open Market has proved to be a fantastic asset to the London Road area, not least due to Mather’s, the only place to grab a great ice-cream before heading over to the Level. Everything is made on-site, while the tiny unit is also home to Rainbow Organic Chocolates, so it’d be rude to not pick up a few gorgeous, handmade chocs while you’re there. Flavours stick to the classics, my favourite being a lovely cherry and almond.
Words by Suzanne Rose
First published in the Brighton and Hove Independent 18/07/2014
Amended in July 2015.