I love ice cream. Chocolate is great, cake is even better, but ice cream I really love. Recent years have seen an insurgence of great independent ice cream makers doing their thing on the street food circuit and beyond, but rarely are they soft serve. Scoop ice cream is bloody brilliant and I have many favourites, but soft serve takes you back, doesn’t it? Ice cream vans rolling down the street playing the music you so desperately longed to hear as a kid every summer evening, Mr Whippy 99s, McFlurries even – soft serve ice cream is nostalgic, and still as good now as it was then. Now imagine soft serve pimped up as other ice creams have been, and let me introduce Soft Serve Society.
Part of the fun of loving food is having a hit list as long as your arm of places you plan to try – in your own city and beyond. Food is a hobby, whether you consider yourself a full blown foodie whose penchant is tasting course menus or someone who strives to know the street food market like the back of their hand. What’s even more fun than finally making it to a restaurant you’ve read about, is lucking out by stumbling upon somewhere that unexpectedly serves amazing food, and feeling like you’ve discovered it. Of course many other people will feel this way too, but this is essentially what happened when I walked past BoxPark the other day and found Soft Serve Society. The queue snaked out onto the street, but whether hype or the sunny day caused it, I don’t know. Despite being on our way to Voodoo Ray’s for a slice and a frozen margarita, we stopped off for dessert first. Who says we have to play by the rules?
As ever when it comes to sweets, the difficult part was picking our delicious poison. Sundae (£4.95) or regular ice cream (£3.50)? Or to go big and go freakshake (£7.95)? Soft Serve Society had taken this latest trend under their belt but considering the imminent pizza, I thought it may be overkill. We both landed on regular ice cream – flavour of the day: chocolate with sea salt. Turns out, sea salt is just as good in chocolate as it is in salted caramel. I’d happily say it’s among the best soft serve ice cream I’ve had, if not the best. You get plenty of it too, though don’t be too fooled by those cups – there is a smaller cup inside that one that stops about two inches down! They’re generous but not that generous.
The menu is small, only two regular flavours: vanilla and green tea (the founder is Japanese), but always with a weekly special. The toppings do the talking here, with everything from meringue, popping candy, granola, popcorn, honeycomb and even puff pastry, along with all the usual sauce suspects – chocolate, strawberry, caramel. I topped mine off with Oreo crumbles for good measure. The pull of Soft Serve Society is going back to basics: soft serve ice cream done well, and from an independent too. I hope they’ll start popping up at street food outposts and festivals, but until then, head over next time you’re in Shoreditch for your own taste of nostalgia.
Have you tried Soft Serve Society yet? Let me know what you thought in the comments!
Unit 35, BoxPark, 2-10 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6GY