Just up from Tesco at the bottom of Park Street, you’ll now find Swoon: an independent Gelato bar that boasts some pretty impressive credentials. Both owner Bruno and head gelato chef Luisa have done their time at the Carpigiani Gelato University near Bologna – Bruno as a student, Luisa as both student and tutor – which bodes well for a business looking to compete with numerous other dessert offerings nearby.
Many of Bruno’s relatives have made names for themselves in the gelato business, and he himself studied at Carpigiani in late 2014, quickly becoming hooked. Gelato, he’s keen to point out, is different from ice cream: it’s churned more slowly, incorporating less air (making it thicker and creamier), it’s served at around -12 to -14C (ice cream’s served at -18C) giving it a softer and silkier texture, and its fat content is around 2-9%, compared with ice cream which is normally between 18-30% fat.
It’s taken Bruno and his team a year to open this shop, thanks to planning challenges and the interest of coffee chains in the premises, but a varied offering, a focus on quality ingredients and a whole host of passion bode well for this fledgling business. While many gelato places – including those in Italy – use pre-made mixes, everything at Swoon is made from scratch, from the gelato bases to the sauces to the chocolate decorations that can be found on Swoon’s gelato cakes.
Walk in, and you’re faced with the counter on the right, its cabinets piled high with sweet frozen treats, while on the left you’ll be able to watch the gelato chefs hard at work in the Gelato Lab thanks to its glass walls. The gelato bar seats around 30 people, while takeaway options are also available…
The range of creations offered by Swoon is pretty vast. In a cabinet next to the Gelato Lab, you’ll find various ice cream cakes, beautifully presented and available either by the slice or to order as whole cakes to take home. Even the decorations are made from scratch in-house.
At the front of the gelato bar when you walk in, you’ll see various “Swoon on a stick” options, priced at £2.75 each, as well as monoporzione (also £2.75 each): small, single portion puddings, perfect for enjoying with one of the Extract Coffees or Canton Teas that Swoon stock. Mine was swirled with a thick, rich hazelnut and chocolate cream – like a better quality Nutella…
A Swoon on a stick is a great option to take away: a choice of mascarpone gelato enrobed in white chocolate, fior di latte gelato with dark chocolate, bacio with dark chocolate and hazelnuts or strawberry sorbet with white chocolate and pistachio – the latter with an incredible fresh strawberry flavour, demonstrating just how good gelato tastes with the use of real fruit.
And then, we have the gelato and sorbetti. Choose one flavour for £2.75, two for £3.75, three for £4.75 or a children’s portion for £1.75 – and what a choice there is. Their sorbets are generally 50% fruit content (except the lemon, which would be too sharp) – and there’s even a chocolate sorbet too. Despite the lack of dairy, the sorbetti are beautifully creamy – those who follow dairy-free diets certainly won’t be missing out.
When it comes to the gelato, there’s a huge range of flavours: there are plans to keep a core range of eight, then change the remaining options depending on the season. Gelato is made daily on the premises – after pasteurising and 12 hours resting time, it’s frozen for just 7-10 minutes at -30 degrees. Why? Because faster freezer leads to smaller ice crystals, making the texture of the finished product smoother.
There really are flavours to suit all tastes: coconut with additional desiccated coconut for texture; a salted caramel gelato that actually has a decent salt content; a chocolate brownie gelato with brownies from Pullin’s Bakery blended into the mix; an Amarena cheesecake that features the tang of cream cheese and swirls of cherry compote – every single flavour I tried was beautiful. My favourite? Probably the amanda – a combination of almonds and Amaretto that will definitely appeal to marzipan fans…
Swoon is open from 8am to 6pm Sunday – Thursday, and from 8am to 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays. The late hours make it perfect for those passing on the way home from work – they also do takeaway tubs that allow you to take home between 1 and 4 different varieties to enjoy at home.
Passion, great ingredients, fantastic gelato and a welcoming atmosphere. What’s not to love…?
Please note: This review is based on a press launch event, but this in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the venue did not see this review before it was put up on the site.
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