16 Red Cape Lane
Melbourne, VIC 3000
When pictures like these show up in your sphere of awareness, there’s no choice but to stand up and pay attention. With their ethereal and endlessly instagrammable soft-serve sculptures, Aqua S has been a huge hit in Sydney for the best part of two years, and has now finally made the jump to QV, Melbourne.
Aqua S may seem like an arbitrary and nonsensical name, but it makes perfect sense once you realise that their signature dessert is the sky-blue sea salt soft serve. Decorated in contrasting shades of sweet pastel, you can get your soft serve at Aqua S with everything from sweet egg rolls to an entire cloud of freshly spun fairy floss. And if sweet-and-salty isn’t your thing, they also have 2 other flavours that rotate on a fortnightly basis; on the night we were there, it was Royal Milk Tea and Cranberry, though in the past there have been everything from Milo to apricot, and even bizarro flavours such as Pumpkin Soup, Tofu, and Tomato (but not all together – that would be much too crazy).
Check. This. Out. This is the Sea Salt Soft Serve ($4, cone) with Fairy Floss and Grilled Marshmallow ($2.8, 2 toppings). This was almost too pretty to eat, but trust me – once you start, you can’t stop. The first bite of the soft serve carries a surprising saltiness that makes you do a double take, but it quickly smooths out into a rich, creamy sweetness. You think salted caramel is addictive? Wait until you try this. And just to add to the visual intrigue (though you can’t see it in this picture), the sky blue ice cream is served in a pitch black waffle cone that tasted faintly of chocolate.
As great as the sea salt flavour is, I do know that there are some people who can’t hack the intense contrast of sweet and salty. For those people, there’s always the Milo Soft Serve ($4, cone) – one of the fortnightly specials when we visited. This one is a total crowd pleaser, and it got the malty, chocolaty flavour to a tee. And look! Here’s that awesome black cone I was talking about!
The other special was the Blood Orange Soft Serve ($4, cone) – the fruit-based, dairy-free alternative (don’t worry; these were devoured over two visits!). Being dairy-free, the combination of fruity and creamy tasted oddly artificial, and although I did enjoy the bright citrus, I think I’ll be sticking with the dairy-based flavours from now on.
Ok let’s be completely honest for a sec – $4 for a soft serve cone is definitely a bit ridiculous, especially when you can drive the price up to close to $10 if you were after some of the toppings (which you will be). But if you look at this from another angle, you’d be hard-pressed to find better, and more imaginative soft serve anywhere in Melbourne, and frankly, you can easily spend just as much on gelato. Keep this in mind, and you’ll like Aqua S just fine.
Rating: 14/20 – would queue at least a little for this.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.