Nitrogen Gelato is all the rage in Melbourne town, with early giants taking the stage, setting up shop and spreading wide and far. Dex2rose is a newcomer, but already they have made their mark in the world, earning a respectable place in Melbourne’s Best Hot Chocolates (more on that later) and quickly becoming a beloved dessert destination, especially on those late nights post-meal, where you’re not quite ready for that date to end yet. The location isn’t prime, though it is very central, it is tucked away in its own hidey hole off Little Londsdale Street in the CBD. You are greeted with a beautiful bright atmosphere, when you step inside you immediately feel better. There is plenty of room, with communal tables for big groups and quieter couches and tables for the more reserved.
Jesse Chua is the man behind it all, when he speaks about his passion and the route he took to open up his dream, you can see he has confidence in his products, and rightly so. He prides himself on what he has created, and ensures his staff mirror his enthusiasm and great customer service. There is a whisper in the wind that in the near future, Jesse is looking to open up the dessert bar and introduce some savoury fare to look forward to. Keen.
The night started with something I would normally never brave. The Nitro Cider (small $6.45, large $7.95) non-alcoholic fruit-based sparkling cider charged with carbon dioxide and nitrogen gas out of beer tap. The evening’s flavour was Pomegranate and Lemon, and I’m extremely glad I was offered this drink. Think of it as the feel good hit of the summer on your tongue; light, refreshing, and it leaves you with a slight buzz on your tongue afterwards.
The Nitro Brew (small $6.45, large $7.95) was next; cold brewed coffee with a creamy head of foam. I’m gonna make a bold statement and say I’m not the biggest fan of coffee, but no joke, I could drink this down. The Nitro Brew was a smooth, non-bitter coffee with a sweet aftertaste. It was perfect for my naive palate, and I can see this being slightly too watered down for the aficionados, but it’s definitely a nice lighter, brew for pairing with the nitro gelato and toning down your night.
On to the main acts. Not Your Granny’s Apple Pie (regular $7.95) with chunky apples churned with luscious vanilla gelato, served in a cone with warm apple chunks, velvety cream and lightly dusted with cinnamon sugar. You’re immediately content with the smooth, subtle, soft-serve consistency gelato. The sweet poached apple chunks hadn’t lost their flavour, and vaguely reminded me of Maccas’ Apple Pie (a very good thing). Generous serves of apple chunks and topped off with a crunchy cone, you couldn’t ask for more. A word to the wicked though, I would finish off the Nitro Cider is its sweetness is definitely more subtle than the ice-creams, and you will lose the tone of the drink and it won’t be served justice.
The sensory majesty that is the ‘Mist In The Woods’ Hot Choc Set ($15.95) is incredible. Dex2rose and their creative genius isn’t featured in many of Melbourne’s Best lists for no reason. You’re hit with the refined chocolate recipe first. Jesse and his team tried 24 variances balancing the percentage chocolate. They ended up with a 51% plus a multitude of spices, to create the perfect sweetness bursting with flavour. Not too bitter and a hearty warming drink for winter. I was impartial to the frozen raspberry drupelets, but the salted caramel gelato was smooth and very subtle, not to overshadow the hot chocolate focus. The other show stealer is the marshmallows on sticks, made in house and melts sublimely over your makeshift blue-flame campfire. It’s insane. You melt the top layer, lap it up or dip it in the hot choc to sweeten it further, and then melt the next layer. It is perfection on a board, all whilst a rose scented mist wafts gently around you, reaching a Heston Blumenthal level of sensory gastronomy.
I was very skeptical about the much adored Pumpkin Spice Latte (small $7.95, regular $8.95). A shoutout to Jesse’s favourite dessert in the states, Pumpkin Pie, they hand cook trays of pumpkins in the kitchen, and whilst they snack on pieces, they create this lovely, subtle, earthy gelato. I loved it because the flavour pushes the boundaries of traditional gelato and doesn’t assault your mouth with sugar. The creamy gelato captured the natural sweetness of the pumpkin perfectly and the addition of the gingernut biscuits brings perfect crunch to the gelato. Wow. I wouldn’t have believed myself, but you NEED to try this truly original flavour. This was the highlight of my night, hands down.
Ms Maple’s Juicy Mangoes Sorbet: Canadian maple syrup and juicy mangoes, tahitian limes and a crack of chilli salt (small $6.95, regular $7.95) was the next flavour, and to be honest, not for the faint hearted. It was definitely not what I was expecting, and reminded me strongly of the strange combination of Vietnamese raw mangoes dipped in salt and chilli. There was just enough sweet to save it but the salt was very evident, and each scoop had a definite umami flavour. The sorbet has a nice sweet tang like all good sorbets have but I think I would skip this one on my return. That being said, the flavour is a bold exploration into asian influenced flavours.
Trippy Cookie Dookie, milk gelato featuring home-made triple chocolate chip cookie dough throughout, served with fresh cream and MOARR cookie dough (small $6.95, regular $7.95) was a nice take on a normally plain milk chocolate gelato. More on the malty chocolate side of things, I loved the gooey cookie dough pieces mixed in, but less so the chocolate chunks, which turned waxy with the cold temperatures. The cookie dough was also noted, a semi-solid granular sweet lump of goodness, throwback to when you licked the bowl.