VENCHI - Long Review
The central london branch of Venchi fits right into the hustle and bustle of Covent Garden Market. The lights inside bounce off the decadent walls of gold and mirrors. This bright stage provides the backdrop for the performing servers. Their skill in working each gelato and creating vertical masterpieces is a joy to behold. At peak times the length of the queue snaking out may give rise to some hesitation however good things come to those who wait.
Mascarpone and Caramelised Fig
This creation piqued our curiosity instantly. This age-old Mediterranean dessert in its gelato version appears much more glamorous relative to its innocent roots. The syrup streaks of gold punctures through the cream base and the occasional piece of fig shows through. The colours are vivid, just like the sweet smell that hits you in the middle on your first mouthful. Interestingly, it reminded us of another old dessert but a with more British pedigree – the sticky toffee pudding. Perhaps this was an effect of the caramelised figs overpowering the mascarpone. The occasional fig piece did offer some variety in taste and texture. Either way, this was a worthy dessert recreation albeit a touch too sweet for our taste.
The first thing we notice about this flavour is the unexpectedly mellow pistachio colour which reminds us more of the shell than the nut itself. Indeed Venchi prides itself for keeping its recipe simple and true with no additives. Thus we are presented with a delicate version of pistachio which is visually attractive with only a few pieces of roasted nuts giving away its identity. The flavour only hits your nose through the mouth. It feels shy at first but the oily smoothness eventually takes over, melting away just as smoothly. Although each mouthful was a slightly different intensity of Sicilian goodness, this subtle variation felt natural. It is perhaps, one of the best pistachio gelatos we have tasted so far (we have tried and loved the Gelatiera pistachio sorbet).
Cuor di Cacao
In their own words, this is the gelato version of their longstanding chocolates. This 75% cocoa gelato visually was a less darker shade than expected, framed by the darker chocolate pieces peppered liberally on the surface. As usual, the server folded the ice cream expertly into the tub. On close inspection, the matt gelato sat invitingly and with gravitas.
The gelato had a smooth but heavy texture and a subtle aroma. This was by far one of the smoothest ice creams we had come across on our travels. It was surprisingly monotonal in taste, but what it lacked in complexity, it more than made up for in homogeneity and delivery. In the mouth the gelato held its own but ultimately when it melted it dissolved quickly and cleanly with little aftertaste. Each mouthful was a clear repetition of the one before. With this flavour you get what you see. The lack of depth may be remedied by having an accompanying scoop – what would yours be?
Venchi is a solid choice of gelateria with several branches around London. Worth popping in for the spectacle of seeing the gelato being worked as well as the gelato itself!