Shut the front door guys – I’ve finally achieved my childhood dream. For one evening, I was allowed to frolic in a dessert shop, being invited to taste all different flavours and even have a go at making it myself!
Life mission achieved, I can now retire forever. But before I do, here’s what I thought of my first ever visit to Bristol’s most sophisticated and passionate gelateria; Swoon.
Firstly – do you know what gelato is, and how it differs from ice cream? I had a rough idea, but it turns out that gelato typically has 50% less cream than ice cream, despite having a much creamier and silkier texture, and it’s also served at a slightly warmer temperature, so you can appreciate the flavours that bit more, yum!
This particular gelateria is a family operation going back 120 years, when the grandad of the owners walked to England from Italy, learning about gelato and how to make it on the way – these recipes form a core part of the gelato options available at Swoon, and are the first indication that you’re dealing with a heap more passion and dedication here than most dessert parlours in town.
On arrival, we were greeted with a glass Prosecco with a scoop of mango sorbetto floating in the middle of it – it was a lovely flavour combination as well as a light and dainty introduction to the venue. Naturally, my next question was whether they’d be serving gelato-based cocktails in the near future, and the answer is that they’re in the process of a applying for a license – hurrah!
We were then treated to a series of interesting talks from owner Bruno, as well as his teacher from Gelato University in Carpigiani (which sounds like an educational facility I invented in my dreams), and also once of his fellow Gelato University alumni, Luisa, who will be working alongside him at Swoon to create the different gelatos.
It was then that we got to try the first of the exciting offerings at Swoon – from the monoporzione (mini desserts – see pic below), to gelato lolly sticks (like an executive version of a Magnum or Feast), to the gelato cakes (I was blown away by the Bacio one – see pic above), all made on site and all delicious.
Got a dairy intolerant or vegan pal in tow? No problem – the sorbettos at Swoon are dairy free (the chocolate one is sublime, and you’ll wonder how they managed such a creamy texture without any milk in it). They also have a range of coffee on offer if you want to match your sugar high with a caffeine one.
There will be 8 core flavours of gelato available at any time, as well as an ever-changing roster of specials – I struggled to pick a favourite, but the pistachio, coffee (really rich, and made with the Dr Strangelove blend from locals Extract Coffee Co) and coconut would have to be my top 3. The hazlenut and vanilla flavours are also very special, but I’d be intrigued to know your favourites!
If you’re looking for some sort of negativity to balance out this review, I’m struggling for it, other than the fact that the price might be off-putting for some (£2.75 each for any of the monoporzione or a single scoop in a cone/cup, £3.75 for 2 scoops, £4.75 for 3 scoops), but at the same time I think it’s more than justified by the standard of what you’re getting.
The quality of the gelato is top notch and tastes lush, the staff are friendly and full of enthusiasm, and the place looks great too. Enough said.
31a College Green
Bristol BS1 5TB
Open 8am-8pm Sun-Thur, 8am-9pm on Fri & Sat
0117 929 0093