Excitement has been building for weeks. Swoon Gelato is legendary in Bristol: feted by the city’s most influential foodies, featuring in countless Instagram beauty shots, its regular guest flavours (voted for by fans) the stuff of endless Twitter debates. And now, finally, Bath has its own branch – a tiny café on Kingsmead Square (appropriately, the home of some of Bath’s best takeaways), just big enough for a counter with stools, a couple of small tables and the glass cabinet of dreams.
You might have picked up that I’m a bit of a fan already. I’ve heard so much about the Bristol branch that I couldn’t resist heading down to the new Bath joint on Friday, the very day it opened, and trying it all for myself. All I can say is, the hype is entirely justified.
For starters, this isn’t your usual cheap and cheerful ice cream parlour for tourists. Swoon is as refined as the name suggests – the colour palette is gold, cream and black, with a shock of rich turquoise here and there. It’s full of elegant little details, like the beautiful blown-glass lampshades, and the old-fashioned milk bottles in which the waffle cones are stacked up ready to go. In the glass cabinet facing outwards onto the street, the sorbetti and gelati are arrayed in all their glory, in dreamy, pillowy clouds of pastel colours that are utterly irresistible. Classic Italian flavours like bacio (chocolate with hazelnut, literally ‘a kiss’ in Italian) and cherry cheesecake scattered with glossy poached amarena cherries will transport you back to sun-drenched holidays. The current guest flavour, cremino, is inspired by traditional cremino chocolates from northern Italy, with delicate layers of Swoon’s Madagascan vanilla, coffee and chocolate gelati. Not only the flavours but the textures are gorgeous too – this one is definitely a winner, like tiramisu in ice cream form.
|Swoon’s pistachio gelato|
Completely helpless in the face of such choice, I asked owners Bruno & Pat for their flavour recommendations, and got a waffle cone piled up with creamy, pale green pistachio gelato and rich, dark chocolate sorbet. The combination is a classic and they were both outstanding – particularly the chocolate, which tastes so indulgent you’d never guess it contains no dairy at all.
There are so many things I like about this place – from the care they take to source the very best ingredients (pistachios all the way from Sicily, milk from right here in Somerset) to the fact they stay open late, so we can all get ice cream for dessert and stroll through the city on a summer’s evening, pretending we’re in Florence. Not to mention, of course, that gelato typically contains around 50% less fat than ice cream and instead owes its gorgeous, creamy texture to a long, slow churning process – so it’s basically a diet food, people. Make sure you get your five scoops a day.
|Pistachio & chocolate: the ultimate combo|