Trend To Try: Gourmet Soft-Serve

Five spots to try this delicious summertime treat 

BellyQ, photo by Nick Fochtman

A beautiful chocolate and vanilla swirl in the perfect ratio of creamy soft-serve to crunchy cone is just about every ice cream-lover’s summertime dream. But lately, some surprising soft-serve flavours and toppings have been appearing on dessert lists throughout North America. Here are a few of our favourites.

BellyQ, Chicago

This modern Asian restaurant on Chicago’s “restaurant row” puts a coconut-water twist on a plain vanilla soft-serve base. House-made huckleberry jelly and peanut butter crunch toppings make for a refreshing riff on PB&J. You can also try the ice cream as a dipping sauce for Vietnamese doughnuts or with Vietnamese iced coffee in a float. 

Holland’s Cake and Shake, Ottawa

Seasonal fruit-flavoured soft-serves along with chocolate and vanilla are served in cake batter cones at this spot in Ottawa’s hip Wellington West neighbourhood. Most decadent of all is The Overlord: a milkshake made with soft-serve ice cream, topped with cake, whipped cream, cookie, brownie and a peanut butter, banana and bacon Elvis truffle. 

Seneca Farms, Finger Lakes, N.Y.

The dozen-plus flavours of soft-serve custard at this seasonal, family-owned ice cream parlour are freshly churned every day and are well worth the drive to the New York countryside. The high milk-fat percentage gives frozen custard its dense, creamy texture. Popular twists include maple with butter cream and coconut with pineapple. 

Soft Peaks, Vancouver

This Gastown storefront serving organic-milk soft-serve opened in January to great fanfare. The signature flavour combines crunchy cereal flakes with decadent Okanagan honeycomb, while the founding brothers’ Korean heritage inspires toppings like matcha powder, sweet red beans, condensed milk and tangy yuzu marmalade. 

Beacon Drive In Restaurant, Victoria

The vanilla soft-serve has been a classic here for more than 20 years. Have it dipped in chocolate, or mix in childhood favourites like Oreos, Smarties or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for a soft-serve avalanche. You can also opt for one of eight rotating flavour bursts, blending in syrups ranging from black cherry and piña colada to cotton candy and butter pecan.