377 Little Bourke St, Melbourne CBD
As a non-professional food blogger (read: this is my hobby, I still have to go to work at my “real,” job every day!), it’s always super exciting to be invited to new food spot openings! I’m a big fan of ice cream, and have really enjoyed the few nitrogen gelati I’ve had in the past, and have always wondered why there haven’t been more opened; it seems like there are endless opportunities to create amazing flavour combinations, if you’ve got the right people and passions behind it. Enter Jesse, the brains behind the operation of Dex2rose, Melbourne’s newest offering in the nitrogen gelati department.
This is a project that’s been four years in the planning and opened only 6 weeks ago. You’d be forgiven if you haven’t heard of it yet; strict council restrictions have prohibited the team from putting up A-frames or signage to point you down Racing Club Lane, so they’re relying pretty much solely on word of mouth and social media. But despite these minor frustrations, having spoken to owner and head chef Jesse for a while yesterday afternoon, the passion and excitement behind it all was pretty clear. After deciding on making Melbourne the home for his gelati baby rather than his home city, Singapore, Jesse said he was pretty happy with the decision; he said that Melbourne’s super supportive culture of wanting new food ventures to succeed was the driving factor behind the decision.
Tucked down one of Melbourne’s city laneways, like so many of the good places are, Dex2rose boasts something that not many other dessert/coffee places in Melbourne have; plenty of space! The shop fit out, which took several months of work, is a gorgeous open, light space – clean white walls, pops of bright teal and wooden tables and seating. Jesse said the aim was to make it a place for people to gather, relax, enjoy, hang out. Somewhere to enjoy a coffee and a gelati with friends at a table or on the couch in the corner, and the intention came across; it was one of those places you feel instantly comfortable in. A big part of this was also the staff – we were greeted at the front door, before we’d even walked in! Jesse said that he makes it an aim to spend a good part of his day walking around and speaking to his customers, asking for their opinions and feedback, which I thought was a pretty brave and smart thing to do. Sure, it’d be tough to hear the not so positive feedback, but as he said, Melbourne foodies are pretty honest and it’s their honesty that’s helped him evolve the menu and make sure it’s constantly changing to include flavours that the people actually want.
But what you really want to know about is the gelati and coffee – why you should bother going. For the coffee addicts, you’ve got a few options, which husband sampled on my behalf. First up was the cold brewed coffee – containing around two thirds less acidity than hot brewed coffee, it’s also naturally sweeter, which takes out the necessity for added sugar. They serve it over ice, but will gladly provide milk and sugar if you’d like.
Husband’s only been a coffee drinker for a year or so now, and he really enjoyed this one, noting instantly that the acidity he usually noticed in his coffee was non-existent in this brew, and surprisingly refreshing on such a hot day. Big thumbs up.
I tried the cold brewed tea, steeped in cold water for around 12 hours – again, the process completely removed any hint of astringency and bitterness and eliminated any need for extra sweetening. It’s not yet available to the public, while Jesse refines the process, but the prototype I tried was a Japanese green tea infused with fruit, and it was amazing! I usually find most green teas can be a little bitter towards the end of the cup and I need a little sugar with them, but this was perfect as it was. And served over ice on a hot day – magic!
Husband also tried the nitro brewed coffee, served out of a beer tap! It’s immersed in cold water for 16 hours, and much like a good stout beer, this coffee has a creamy foam head, and Dex2rose is serving theirs infused with flavours like maple and vanilla bean, which husband sampled. Rich flavours, again no need for any milk or sugar, perfect served cold. Happy summer time coffee drinking for those who want the coffee flavour without having a hot drink on a hot day.
Now, the real stars of the show. The gelati. Nitrogen gelati is a 30 second quick freeze job, as opposed to the 7 – 10 minutes it takes in a regular ice cream churner, which makes for a richer, creamier blend, and it makes a big different. Upon entering, we were offered a sample cup of the W.I.T.S – Watermelon Iced Tea Sorbet made with fresh watermelon, lime, mint and brewed tea. It was like a cocktail in sorbet form, and as a watermelon lover, I absolutely loved this one! Let the fun begin!
Jesse took charge and selected our menu and serving order. First up was the Lazy Dinner: Sage, burnt butter and caramel gelato topped with caramel sauce.
Savoury ice cream really needs to be more of a thing. I’ve tried chocolate rosemary before which was nice, but this was another level. The sage was perfectly proportioned, not so much that it was unbearable, but enough to know what it was. The caramel sauce was the perfect balancer, and Jesse said it was one of the most popular flavours at the moment, which isn’t a surprise.
Next up was the Honey Stash: Sicilian pistachio and honey gelato with honeyed cashew nut clusters, topped with raspberry cream, made in house.
After sampling eight different types of pistachio paste for this product, Jesse finally settled on one from Sicily, Italy, and it was a good choice; the flavour was again strong enough to know what you were eating, without being completely overwhelming. The sugary cashew clusters were the perfect pop, and the raspberry cream cut through the sweetness of the honey and pistachio perfectly.
Third serving was It’s A Match AH!: high quality Matcha powder (Japanese green tea) gelato topped with a crunchy peanut sugar.
If you’re a big green tea/matcha lover, you’re going to enjoy this. Personally, the flavours were too strong for me – the peanut sugar helped a little bit, but it’s definitely not for everyone. I had a few spoonfuls, but it just got too strong for me after that!
This one was probably my favourite – the Rockkaido: Fresh rockmelon and Hokkaido Milk Tea powder gelato, topped with raspberry cream.
I LOVED this one! The Hokkaido Milk Tea Powder had the most incredible flavour – almost gave it a creamy, coconutty taste, but there was no coconut in there! Add that raspberry cream and it’s the absolute perfect summer gelati, and I would go back for this one in a heart beat!
Finally, we finished on the Pink Flamingo: Peach and moscato sorbet topped with rosewater coconut cream (vegan, dairy free, gluten free).
This was a great one to finish on – super fresh and clean, made using 90% fresh peaches and 10% peach puree. The coconut cream was great with it, though the rosewater is a strong flavour; I like it, but it’s not for everyone! The other great thing about this one was that it caters for individuals with special diets – Jesse said he was really conscious of having a menu friendly to vegans and coeliacs, so they wouldn’t have to be missing out on dessert – extra points for that!
It’s so great to see new places opening up in a city known worldwide for their food, and it’s even better to meet someone who cares so much about what they do. I’m grateful to Jesse for the invite to check them out, but to be perfectly honest, if I’d come across this place without the invite and time to chat, I’d have loved it anyway. With a constantly changing menu (Jesse is rolling a new one out every three weeks at the moment), the flavours are crazy enough to get your attention, but still familiar enough that you really want to try them.
Disclosure: I was kindly invited to dine as a guest of Dex2rose’s, however the opinions contained herein are completely based on my own experience.