In recent years, Denver’s frozen yogurt and craft hard-packed ice cream scenes have flourished, leaving soft-serve buffs out in the, well, cold. Until 2019, that is, when fans of the velvety, swirly stuff lucked out with Dang opening in Park Hill last September and now Melted debuting at the Source.
Melted’s menu is simple: four rotating flavors of soft serve with optional toppings, a couple kinds of cookies, and a “Thai ice cream sandwich” (we’ll explain that one below). The sweet shop is a partnership between restaurateur/beverage director Bryan Dayton (Acorn, Corrida, Brider, Oak at Fourteenth) and pastry chef Jennifer Akina (Azucar Bakery).
“I’ve been prodding the Zeppelins [The Source is owned by Zeppelin Development] for years—there should be a dessert shop inside the Source,” Dayton says. “I joked about selling mochi out of a cart. I’ve been trying to brainstorm ways to diversify the marketplace, and no one’s doing fun soft-serve downtown right now.”
When Western Daughters Butcher Shoppe left the Source and Acorn expanded into its back bay, Dayton got his opportunity via a 365-square-foot space up front. He wanted to fill the neighborhood’s soft-serve void, and so he got to work with Akina creating flavors like Thai iced tea, vegan coconut, pomegranate, and Chartreuse.
Akina’s cookie varieties include chocolate chip, peanut butter, Thai tea sugar and, her favorite, white chocolate with strawberry streusel, featuring fresh and frozen dried berries for tartness. Like with the soft serve, there will always be at least one vegan cookie on the menu.
“Bryan challenged me to come up with some decadent, chewy cookies. [White chocolate with strawberry streusel] was sitting there in my cookie arsenal, just waiting to be discovered,” Akina says.
The aforementioned Thai ice cream sandwich—sporting similarities to both classic Sicilian “brioche con gelato” and Thailand’s roll-based treats—was inspired by a trip Dayton took to Thailand 20 years ago. Melted’s take on the dessert features a sweet, fluffy milk bread roll baked by neighbor Reunion Bread Co., which is a nice hot-dog-size vessel for cradling three scoops of already-frozen soft serve (so the sandwich doesn’t get too mushy), a lashing of sweetened condensed milk, and a crunchy topping—your choice of anything from heart-shaped sprinkles and cereal marshmallows to candied pig ears.
Ready to get your swirl on? Melted opens inside the Source today, January 14.
If you go: The dessert shop is open Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m.; the Source, 3350 Brighton Blvd.