The Localist

“It’s just ice cream, people!!!”


I can’t stand lining up. Hate it. When I lived in the UK, expats would pay out on the Brits for their passion for standing in line. Like all the time. For just about anything – buses, burritos, seedy clubs in the pouring rain…but not me. Rather than stand in a queue at my favourite restaurant for an hour I’d rather walk around for an hour and a half looking for another restaurant.

So imagine my surprise one night when I encountered Sydney people queuing for something that you can get virtually anywhere. We’re talking about ice cream. Why would you queue on the street for half an hour for something that you can get in any of the bazillion corner shops you say? And for just a few minutes of pleasure?  My thoughts exactly. I’m a slow eater but it takes me no time to devour two scoops of frozen delight, especially in this hot weather.

As I think fondly of the trusty Golden Gaytime, mango Weiss Bar, banana Paddle Pop and other classic Aussie options, I wonder why we are queuing on busy Crown Street in Surry Hills outside this ice cream joint, Messina, on a Saturday night…two sheilas in tight mini-dresses come by and want to know what time the place closes later on as they are keen to go for a tipple first. As we’re chatting with them this guy hollers as he tries to manoeuvre his way past the line up – “it’s just ice cream people!!!”

I’m not sure you can accuse Messina of doing straight up ice cream – the flavours on the board outside read like proper restaurant desserts, but in gelato format…I had the salted caramel and white chocolate, which was pretty good, but spat out the white chocolate stars, which might be a bit of sugar overload for people who genuinely appreciate salted caramel. Why is there white chocolate with salted caramel! It reminds me of when I sampled some salted caramel in a Brighton market last year and couldn’t really taste the salt. The French caramel chef explained that since salted caramel has become trendy producers have had to significantly cut the amount of salt in it, otherwise hipsters whinge that it’s too salty. Crazy but true.

I haven’t braved the line up since then. Every time I walk past I pause for a moment, then head for the comfort of my home where I can sprinkle sea salt on top of my supermarket caramel toffee ice cream. And not have to queue again for a second serving. There are other flavours I’d like to sample though, like pandan coconut and poached figs in marsala. Bar Italia on Norton Street does amazing gelato too, but you’ll just get the usual gelato flavours there.

Amy is a Surry Hills girl I work with who is obsessed with Messina. She says:

Why is Messina worth lining up for? Let me answer this by posing another question – why can I no longer find satisfaction in any other brand of ice-cream? Yes that’s right, for a regular ice-cream consumer, who used to enjoy Cold Rock, Magnums and even the occasional Paddle Pop. I no longer see the point in these bland sub-standard products. Why? Because I now know that there is something better out there. That’s why Messina is worth lining up for – because once you have it every other type of ice cream seems pointless!”

As I said, obsessed. So try it out, if you travellers have the time! At $4 for a scoop and $6 for two, it’s cheaper than other places in Sydney ($8 at Circular Quay, for real). You can’t help but socialise in the queue and you can even join other ice cream lovers in the shitty park across the road. Who knew ice cream could be such a social event?!

Gelato Messina Surry Hills Store: 389 Crown Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010.

Bar Italia: 171 Norton Street, Leichhardt, NSW 2040.



One Response to “It’s just ice cream, people!!!”


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