On your next family day in London, skip the trendy gelato shops and pretentious patisseries of Soho and opt for some truly indulgent treats at the Haagen-Dazs ice cream shop on Leicester square. If you’re expecting a simple storefront where your options are pretty much limited to one scoop or two, think again. This is the flagship UK location of the global ice cream monolith, serving not only classic cones and sundaes but also sorbets, hot drinks, cold shakes, and even sweet, tempting cocktails for mom and dad.
Häagen-Dazs hardly needs a sign, as the queue at the entrance advertises the quality of the sweets to all who stroll by. As you wait your turn, you can pass the time debating the best flavour. With premium ingredients and creative offerings like Banoffee (banana ice cream with caramel and crunchy cookie bits) that are only available here, it’s worth the wait — no matter the weather.
Once you get inside, you’ll find a boisterous scene, with crowds up people pressing up to the counter for a view of the icy action. Don’t feel rushed–take your time perusing the expansive classic-style case before deciding what you want. It’s hard to deny the simple elegance of hot chocolate sauce draped over a scoop of classic vanilla, but there are so many exotic and customizable options that you feel like you ought to take advantage of.
It may seem daunting, but the menu lays out the protocol for you: Pick a scoop or three of your favorite indulgent flavors, add a layer of fresh baked treats, and sprinkle on some crunchy or gooey toppings for good measure. The tart, zesty Raspberry Sorbet and the decadent Chocolate Midnight Cookies ice cream would go perfectly with some rich Belgian chocolate sauce on warm, crispy waffles. Then again, as you negotiate with your kids how many scoops they are allowed to have, an item on the menu grabs your attention: Bailey’s Espresso. Baileys ice cream (hmm), a double shot of espresso (ooh) — served with a shot of Irish whiskey (bingo).
It might sound a little outrageous for a family outing, but you deserve it. Settle into a cozy corner booth with your favorite people and alternate sips of your cool, bittersweet shake and your warm, smooth whiskey. (Or just dump the shot in for an invigorating twist on Irish Coffee.) You laugh at your partner, who is combating your youngest’s new chocolate whiskers with a wet napkin. It’s time for a family photo and a long, long walk in the park.