Anyone familiar with Iceland will know that every tiny village or hamlet there must have a church, swimming pool and ice cream shop. And although Gelateria-style ice cream has grown in popularity recently via outlets like Valdís, it is the soft-serve Dairy-Queen-style variety that is most common, and is what is on offer here.
The key differentiators are the dips and the toppings - which every Icelandic ice cream shop tries to out-compete each other in number and variety - including fruit, sauces, cream, and an extraordinary variety of candy / cookies / sweets of every description - chocolates, oreos, brownies, snickers, gummy bears etc. Much like a Dairy Queen Blizzard or McDonalds McFlurry - the chosen ingredients are mixed up in a blender and served in a variety of container sizes (known as Bragðarefur in Icelandic, Bears call them ’Glaciers’). Ice cream can also be dipped in a large number of these toppings and served in a cone. You can choose as many topics as you are comfortable with - Icelanders regularly go for a half dozen or so.
Today was only the second day of operation, and I went for the standard classic - large soft ice cream in a waffle cone with luxury dip (chocolate-caramel) - at £3.10. The Jersey-sourced ice cream tasted pretty good, not quite up to the very best Iceland has to offer - such as Ísbúð Vesturbæjar, but not too far off it either. There are a number of typical Icelandic toppings already, including chocolate-coated-liquoricey ones and Nóa Kropp - but some of the typically popular Icelandic choices - the various chocolate bar types for instance are not there yet. There’s also a great variety of milkshakes on offer - all made fresh to order. As a concession to Brits, there are far fewer liquoricey toppings available - Brits don’t tend to like liqourice nearly as much as Icelanders do. Icelanders importantly eat ice cream any day and every day - including in sub-zero temperatures, while for Brits, ice creams are mostly consumed in warmer months.
Bears Ice Cream Company can by found in the environs of Hammersmith / West London - at 244 Goldhawk Road, W12 9PE. It is perfect for those taking advantage of Ravenscourt Park, as it is directly off the top right corner of said park. In terms of nearest tube - both Ravenscourt Park (District Line) and Goldhawk Road (Hammersmith & City / Circle Lines) are equidistant from the shop - a walk of about 10-15 minute depending on pace.
While it is great for local residents and users of the nearby park, it is a little out of the way for me to warrant overly regular visits - I will certainly pop in for a treat every now and again as I was left with generally very favourable impressions.
This is the 4th Icelandic food-related business in London, following on from Michelin-starred restaurant Texture (Marylebone), it’s 3 sister wine-bar / restaurants ’28°-50°’ (City / Mayfair / Marylebone) and two branches of Tommi’s Burger Joint (Chelsea / Marylebone).
Other Icelandic restaurants have preceded these, but are not around any longer (inc. The Hot Icelandic Sandwich Co). The Texture Group Restaurants and Tommi’s Burger Joints certainly look here to stay, and we hope that Bears can join that company long-term. We would really love to see a London outpost of the celebrated Baejarins Beztu hot dog chain too - and somewhere we can reliably stock up on Icelandic sweets.
As Brits don’t eat so much ice cream in the colder months of the year, I feel that Bears may need to add a couple of twists to its offerings to sustain sufficient traffic in an otherwise off-season. I love the uniforms and the setup so far looks pretty great - locals in particular - please give them your support - you should find this a worthy venue for weekly / weekend treats for you and your kids in particular ...