Scoops, an ice cream parlour, opened its doors recently in wintertime. But this hasn’t deterred the sweet-toothed.
Open from 7am to midnight, you can but guess as to who eats ice cream, sweet waffles and crepes and the like first thing. But maybe I’m just out of step with some people’s eating habits.
There’s no denying that obesity levels in the UK are alarming.
In 1993 13 per cent of men and 16 per cent of women were obese – in 2011 this rose to 24 per cent for men and 26 per cent for women.
Scoops, if I’m putting on the disapproving frown stance, is not an ideal venue for this reason alone, except for a treat. But is it a treat here?
The incredibly noisy space – thanks to its blaring music – is a mix of red and black walls, banquette tables and chairs.
Strips of colour on the ceiling and above the long bar housing the types of ice creams and cakes are green and blue and the only other décor is heavy advertising.
There are very few menus around and customers cluster around the plastic stands on the bar. It seems that making your mind up super-fast is the order of the day or someone else will be served before you and grab one of the very tightly-packed tables.
The message clearly is: make up your mind or clear out. But do clear out quickly as we need your table.
Not only does the Scoops logo resemble a quality company in London specialising in real ice cream and other desserts, but the menu is remarkably similar: sundaes; crepes; waffles; ice creams; shakes, coffees, teas and hot chocolate.
This one is not related: I called Scoop in London and the owner, an Italian, sighed.
You may be tempted by a banoffee pie, lemon or golden maple crepe served with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Alternatively a waffle with Nutella or banana and chocolate drizzle might take your fancy.
There is also a long list of sundaes including bubblegum strawberry, cookie heaven and mint mafia. Sorbets with fruit and slices of cake are on offer too.
Prices are steep: £3.50 to £8.95. A scoop of ice cream costs £2 and six scoops are £7.50 while many extras – flakes, whipped cream et al – can make that bill mount up.
My choices were a lemon crepe with vanilla ice cream and a sorbet sundae with fruit, totalling a whopping £10.45.
The crepe was ultra-thick, tasteless and lemon-free while the ice cream was seemingly devoid of anything resembling ice cream.
Gelato, for the uninitiated, means ice cream. Just because it has an Italian name doesn’t mean it’s the genuine article.
The sorbet, topped by three cut-rate wafers and a tiny drizzle of mango and kiwi syrup, equally failed the test.
The billed fruit salad was unimpressive. Unripe strawberries hid under two yellow balls of sorbet and one pink one – all of them without taste.
Any chef and restaurateur worth their salt knows that any dessert is the way to make a killing and they understand that the UK has a serious sweet tooth.
If the quality of the goods at Scoops were impressive, this would be a destination restaurant with chain potential.
But alas, there were no treats to be had here.
Scoops Gelato, 81-82 Elm Grove, Southsea, P05 1JF
(023) 9287 6640.
Open 7am – midnight.
Disabled access: Space is limited for wheelchair access around tables.
How to get there: Elm Grove is between Victoria Road South and King’s Road. Scoops is on the left going east. On-street parking available.
Ratings (maximum *****)