Sundaes Gelato, Baldwin Street: Review
It’s taken me a while to make it to Sundaes Gelato on Baldwin Street, for two reasons. The first is the fact that I have more of a savoury than a sweet tooth, meaning that I have to be in the right frame of mind to visit somewhere that serves dessert and dessert only. The second is that, at the time of writing, Sundaes Gelato had a food hygiene rating of just 1 out of 5, thanks to an inadequate level of compliance in some areas and a lack of a food safety management system.
Nevertheless, the dessert bar has seemed insanely busy whenever I’ve walked past, demonstrating that Bristolians clearly have a sweet tooth no matter the time of day. And I really do mean no matter what time: Sundaes Gelato is open seven days a week from 7.30am until midnight, meaning that a sugar rush can be had pretty much whenever required.
The sizeable space is pretty garish inside, full of plasticky faux-leather seating, neon lights and shades of pink and purple. The left hand side, on entering, is taken up by the counter: its dazzling array of ice creams, cakes and traybakes on display for all to see. There are other options, including smoothies, milkshakes, waffles and crepes, but on this particular visit with family members (including small children) we were there with gelato in mind.
It took us a while to make our decision, though, as we were faced with no fewer than 48 options from which to choose – which, according to the website, are made on-site daily. Our failure to make a decision didn’t seem to impress the serving staff, who stood there, stony-faced, while we decided.
There’s something for everyone here: fruit flavours such as blueberry, lemon or green apple; richer flavours such as chocolate or espresso, luridly coloured choices including both blue banana and Red Bull, and plenty that feature chocolate bars – Kinder Bueno or Daim ice cream, anyone?
Cones are displayed on top of the counter (possibly not especially hygienic…) and are available in three sizes: one scoop for £2, two scoops for £3.50 or three scoops for £4.50. Alternatively, add another 50p and you can opt for a chocolate cone, a cone with sprinkles or an ice cream topping of your choice. Prices seem expensive, but servings are more generous than expected.
In the end, I opted for two scoops in a standard cone: one of chocolate brownie ice cream, one of melon. I was disappointed to see that the serving staff were working with their hair uncovered and without gloves, which reinforced the food hygiene rating somewhat, but was pleased that the come was handed to me in a paper napkin, at least.
Of the two, the melon was by far superior – full of flavour and tasting like the real thing, but in a worryingly lurid shade that certainly wasn’t natural. The flavour of the chocolate brownie ice cream wasn’t bad, nice and rich, but the small chunks of what I assume were supposed to be brownie were more like pieces of solid biscuit and the texture didn’t really work.
I can understand why people love the novelty of a venue that serves only desserts, but I’m not sure I’ll be a regular. While there’s plenty of choice to keep people coming back time and time again, the ice cream itself was fairly average, the service not particularly great and the standards of hygiene somewhat lacking.