Fortnum and Mason is world renowned as a luxury grocery shop. However for the discerning visitor, who can manage to drag themselves away from their beautifully presented food hall, they will be rewarded with a delightful treat The Parlour, a traditonal ice cream parlour.
The Parlour, located on the 1st floor (2nd floor for Americans), has a charming vintage feel, with its curved bar and tempting display of handmade, artisan ice cream and sorbets, made in Bermondsay, South London.
There's a good and varied selection of ice creams that includes traditonal flavours such as vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. For the more adventurous there is Salted Caramel, Hazelnut or Honeycomb ice cream. They also serve Fortnum's Rose and Violet which is an ice cream version of their signature handmade chocolates.
If you'd preference is for sorbet, the options include Blood Orange, Cucumber and Mint and Fortnum's Gin and Tonic (which contains alcohol).
The Parlour offers a mouth watering selection of ice cream sundaes including Knickerbocker Glory, served in tall glasses with spoons with long handles, and an Afternoon Tea Sundae, which I had been planning to order but at the time of my visit they had sold out of, thus providing the perfect excuse for a return visit.
I was intriged with their Build Your Own Sundae so I decided to get creative and design my own. Life is full of difficult decisions such as what combo of ice cream, sauce and toppings I should go for!
Here's my ice cream sundae masterpiece consisting of 3 scoops of ice cream, Vanilla, Honeycomb and Salted Caramel with Caramel Sauce. Topped with Whipped Cream and Chocolate Flake and for the finishing touches I could not resist Shortbread.
My skyscraper of a sundae arrived beautifully presented in pretty blue dish. OMG it was utterly delicious from start to finish. All three ice cream had a luxurious, creamy texture with an exquisite taste so it was difficult to chose a favourite flavour. The ice cream was topped with fresh whipped cream and accompanied by 2 chocolate flakes , a finger of shortbread and running through the centre a long pole of white chocolate.
I also order a classic vanilla milkshake which was made with 2 scoops of ice cream, milk and a dash of cream. The milkshake was perfect rich and very creamy blended to the right texture so it was easy to drink. The whole experience was blissful.
The decor was as pleasing to the eyes as the ice cream. With its retro, curved central bar with ice cream cool, pastel shades, jars of sweets and inviting pull up stools I wouldn't have been surprised if Sandy and Danny (from Grease) walked in.
Fortnum and Mason launched their first Parlour in 1926 and today's Parlour is inspired by the works of Edward Bawden, the English painter and illustrator. Decorating the walls are large murals, paying a fun and cheeky nod to the heritage of Fortnum and Mason and British traditions. On the left Fortnum and Mason's founders are depicted.
On the far left is Mr Mason, who is dressed in a pink coat with the letter M embroidered on his pocket , carrying a teapot on a tray. On his right is Mr Fortnum, who is dressed in a blue coat with the letter F embroidered on his pocket, carrying a candleabra. He was a former footman in Queen Anne's household. At that time the royal family would have new candles every evening and Mr Fortnum would take the old, half used candles and re-sell them for a profit.
My favourite image was of the lion, with his tongue out, looking hopefully up at Britannia, with her ice cream cone.
Next to the ice cream bar is another seating area with a murals depicting a traditional fair ground. The restaurant is accessible by lift and also on the same floor is a disabled toilet.
As one would expect from Fortnum's the food was of excellent quality and the service was attentive. My Build Your Own Sundae and milkshake with service added was a total of £17.94, making it an affordable treat. The Parlour is very popular, with children and adults alike, and there is often a queue, so I would suggest booking ahead.
When you visit Fortnum and Mason don't forget to look out for their utterly charming clock at the front of the store. On the hour Mr Fortum (left) and Mr Mason (right) make an appearance.
They are impecably dressed and easy to tell which one is which as there is a F and M about their respective boxes.
Happy ice cream eating!
If you enjoyed reading this blog you might enjoy my other Foodie London blogs.
The author of this blog is a qualified City of London and City of Westminster Tour Guide who leads guided walks combining world famous landmarks with hidden treasures often missed by the crowds.