Friday night in buzzing Soho in central London. Office crowd and party goers alike flock the bars for drinks. I open the door and step inside. The place is packed: some people are sitting on the bar chairs in the front, the lucky ones have scored table seats at the back and the rest are just standing wherever they can find some room. Gelupo looks like any neighbouring bar on Friday night apart from it being… an ice cream parlour.
I am not even sure if the place is still open when I decide to go past it. To my great joy it stays open till midnight on weekends and it’s never too late for ice cream, is it? Simple interior with minimalistic white and blue tiled decor creates the feel of one of those gelato shops I visited in Italy. There are shelves with Italian chocolates, biscuits and cakes at the back and it feels cozy enough to hang around.
I take my time studying the menu while other customers are being served. Half of the menu are different flavours of gelato and the other half – sorbets. I like unusual flavours and here I can see quite a few to choose from. I’ve had basil, olive, rosemary ice cream in the past, but beetroot? Gelupo have Beetroot, Ginger, Carrot & Apple sorbet and it looks like the most intriguing thing on the menu. Ice cream girl sees me hesitating and offers a sample. Beetroot flavour is definitely dominant, but it has too much associations with beetroot salad for me. I ask for some Chestnut ice cream to try and that’s something I could be in the mood one day: it has a mild yet recognisable chestnut flavour, that rolls down nicely on the palate. However, this time I feel like something more intense, so I continue on exploring. There are two ice cream flavours with ricotta. I choose to sample Ricotta, Chocolate and Black Pepper ice cream. Pepper gives it a nice kick, but chocolate is too dominant for me. I end up going for simpler, but failproof option – Ricotta & Sour Cherry ice cream. The other combination that can’t possibly go wrong is Sated Caramel & Pecan and that’s my second pick.
The choices seem to be totally right and a small round wafer stuck on top is so tasty that I am almost tempted to see if I can score another one. Ricotta gives richness to the texture of ice cream and ribbons of sour cherry makes it very refreshing. It works well in combination with intense flavour salted caramel ice cream and crunchy chunks of pecans make things even better.
Not sure if it’s the size of the small serving or gelato is that good, but it is gone in minutes and I am struggling hard to resist getting some more. I continue on studying menu on the wall while people come in waves into the shop. It is quite small and it gets packed very quickly. And then I notice a big display fridge. Something incredible is gazing at me from there. I come closer and can’t believe my own eyes seeing Panettone cakes filled with… hold your breath: ice cream!
The way these cakes are made is quite simple: the top cut off, the insides scooped out and ice cream layered inside all the way to the top, covering it all with the lid of the cake afterwards.
Panettones come in three different sizes, the smallest one being of a size of large muffin. I’ve seen soups and stews served in scooped out bread bowls, but ice cream? Never. What a great idea that is!
I find out that custom-made ice cream Panettone can be ordered upon request, so you can choose your favourite flavours and my mind already starts layering perfect flavour combinations for a cake I’d like to have for my birthday.
The other treats in the fridge are large cones and cute mini cones with chocolate icing, bon bons – round chocolate coated ice cream balls and small layered ice cream cakes.
Just before I leave, hot chocolate menu on the wall catches my eye. I am not a big fan of this drink, but for those who are, this could be heaven. Dark bittersweet or Gianduja, with whipped cream, with double ristretto, with a dash of rum or whiskey, with zabaione float, with coconut ice cream or raspberry sorbet, – even I would be tempted to try some of these creative improvisations.
I leave the shop still craving for more ice cream and my inner kid is whispering to me that I have to come back here soon to try some new flavours and at least a slice of ice cream Panettone.