My gorgeous macaroons. Courtesy of La Duree. When they first opened in the UK I knew I had to visit but it wasn't until I came across them in Green Park where they opened in Burlington Arcade when I got to try it out. Now they are like my overpriced luxury item of choice. And the perfect reasoning to why I have never tried caviar. I really want to, but I don't think I can afford a £50 a pot habit. If you are ever in this neck of the woods, you may as well do my abbreviated tour. Stop off at Green Park station. Start on the opposite side of the road to the Ritz. Walk towards Piccadilly Circus and you will find La Duree (humanahumanahumana) and for me the must tries are Caramel and salted butter, vanilla, and raspberry. Moving along you get La Maison Chocolat, which whilst the cake I bought wasn't THAT nice, it was the smell of molten chocolate in the shop that made me high. Right next door to that is a japanese shop called Minamoto Kitchoan which sells japanese jellies for the most part. This is purely for asthethic appeal but they do it very well and I'm sure a box of their cakes would go down very well as a dining gift.
If that's not enough, Fortnum and Mason's is opposite. Whilst it lacks the big moon-eyed effect of the Harrods cake section they now have an ice cream parlour on the first floor, called, wait for it, The Parlour. Whilst I would recommend it on the dinkiness - nice decor, tiny coronets of icecream with your coffee and whilst there was nothing wrong with the knickerbocker glory I ordered. It was at least 20 minutes before we were served our order. Put it this way, I was born a restaurant girl. If you see a customer sitting in front of them with nothing, not even a drink, you check. At the very least you serve water or something!! And after we cornered the manager and she said it would be a few minutes (from the looks of it our original order never made it to the kitchen), it took ten minutes more? And they forgot the extra whipped cream my sister ordered. Funnily enough when we didn't pay the service charge but left the exact amount of the ice cream and mineral water on the table, within a few seconds of us walking out a waitress was dispatched to find out why we wouldn't pay our service charge (this is by stalking us round the shop floor) , to which I bluntly replied "because we waited over 20 minutes" and she went back to report that to her manager. Why would I recommend you go there? Well you never know, you might have a good experience compared to me. Plus, there was that appeal of somewhere other than Haagen Daz.
Alternative ice cream places around Leicester Square:
Ciao - behind the capital radio building on Charing Cross Road, whilst I find the stuff a bit sweet, it is worth going just to look at the menu - ice cream forms spaghetti and lasagna dishes or even fried eggs! If that's not enough they do a Ferrero Rocher sundae which could never live up to the name.
Rendevous - right on Leicester Square with huge vats of swirly ice cream. Only problem is: a) the staff get confused if you ask for a sundae, so just ask for number of scoops b) there is no bathroom.
Haagen Daz - hard to miss and hard never to have tried. It's been renovated to a more club feel with cocktails and sofas but what I really miss is the way we miss things in the UK. Whilst we did have the ice cream fondue available, the UK has never had - the Haagen Daz cream tea as featured in Shanghai (multi-tiered ice cream stack with small cakes) and more importantly, the ice cream mooncakes seen in HK. I have never managed to go HK at the right time for these, but just about everyone waxes lyrical about them. BRING THEM HERE!!!