Hotel Chocolat-Honest Mum

After a dreamy introduction into cacao cuisine a few months back at Hotel Chocolat’s flagship restaurant Roast & Conch in Leeds, my husband, Peter and I were literally brimming with excitement at the promise of more endorphin-releasing cocoa-enhanced everything on our return for lunch.

And what’s more, we even got a chocolate lesson and tasting session beforehand at the Hotel Chocolat School of Chocolate! Best. Date. Ever.

So good in fact that I’ve been re-living this refined Willy Wonka experience to all my (envious) friends and family since!

So let’s start at the beginning, arriving at Hotel Chocolat, a chic gift shop and cafe are located on the ground floor, with the Roast & Conch restaurant upstairs.

Love the minimal industrial feel to the shop-very cool!

Hotel Chocolat-Honest Mum

Hotel Chocolat-Honest MumChocolates-Honest Mum

We made our way to the Chocolate Lab by the cafe and we’re introduced to our cocoa teacher, the passionate and engaging resident chocolatier Isobel from their dedicated Hotel Chocolat School. Best job ever huh?!

Hotel Chocolat-Honest Mum

Chocolatier-Honest Mum

Best school in the world!

School of Chocolate

Taking our seats with another couple, water was poured and we were ready to learn (if only real school had been all about chocolate, I might have enjoyed it a bit more!)

Vicki-Honest Mum

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Taste of Chocolat-Honest Mum

From a history into chocolate (I was top of the class having made a documentary on chocolate at Uni) we learnt about the process from tree to bar and tasted as we went (ah-mazing)!

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The Tasting Adventure-Honest Mum

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Tasting Adventure-Honest Mum

…I discovered milk chocolate can still have high cocoa content (theirs is 75%) and we sampled chocolate enhanced with chilli as well as chocolate with notes of vanilla, coffee and more.

Most importantly we learnt the 4 crucial chocolate connoisseur stages of Look, Snap, Smell and Taste. I’m a professor of chocolate now (probably)!

chocolate-Honest Mum

We then went on a world tour of chocolate tasting tiny chunks of loveliness from Ghana, Trinidad, Venezuela, Madagascar, Peru, Ecuador and Dominican Republic, it was a real education and true to its name, an absolute divine tasting adventure.

Such a fun and joyful way to spend 2 hours and particularly with the one you love (all those passion-releasing vibes from eating cocoa make it the ideal date)!

At the close of the session, you get to take something home too- a beautiful box of Hotel Chocolat chocolates along with a certificate on completing the adventure and 10% off purchases made in the shop! Nice.

The Tasting Adventure-Honest Mum

And some of these dreamy bites came home with us! It would be rude not to, right?!

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I can’t recommend The Tasting Adventure enough-and we can’t wait to sample the Bean to Bar Experience too in the coming weeks where we’ll be making our own chocolate bars!

Then it was upstairs, happier than ever from the perfect appetisers of chocolate pre meal, with a bounce in our step and a buzz for what was to come…

Restaurant-Honest Mum

Roast and Conch-Honest Mum

Our knowledgeable, pleasingly-theatrical waiter greeted us warmly and ensured there was nothing we left wanting throughout our meal, even taking a picture of us both below!…An absolute star!

The setting reflects the cocoa: inviting, relaxed oak surroundings, low hanging lights, industrial style charcoal table tops, imprints of glasses remaining-markers of past joyous times enjoyed that made me smile!

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And now for the food…WARNING, look away now if you’re hungry or get ready to salivate on your screen!

duck starter-Honest Mum

The starters were OUT OF THIS WORLD, I’m trying not to shout but it’s impossible, you all need to know how incredible the crispy duck confit potato cake, braised red cabbage in a cocao-orange sauce really was!

Basically the best marriage of flavours I’ve ever experienced in one dish together, the tangy orange biting through the cocoa with the smooth duck and delicate potato making it a party in my mouth. I might have swooned!

duck starter-Honest Mum

I would return just to eat that alone.

Peter devoured the tuna tartare (literally, I looked away for a second and it was gone)- a bed of tuna served with cacao guacamole, lime-ginger dressing and delicate crispbread wafers.

Practically an abstract piece of art, this was a masterpiece Peter loved, tangy and refreshing, the lime dressing a perfect marinade for the tuna, it was the perfect light starter.

tuna tartare-Honest Mum

Roast and Conch tuna tartare-Honest Mum

 

Then it was onto the main course…

‘Choc au Vin’ for me (love what they did there)-jointed corn fed chicken casseroled with bacon, onions and cacao red sauce that made me think of family dinners in front of the fire at Christmas. Perfect basically.

chicken-Honest Mum

…Further heart warming with a wine I fell head over heels for too-the Portuguese Terra Do Zambujeiro,  a rich full bodied 2009 red with flavours of cocoa, leather and spice. Winter in a glass.

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Cheers!

cocoa infused red wine-Honest Mum

Peter went for the Market fish (salmon that day) with creole-cacao spices, almond puree and Jerusalem artichokes. Perfectly cooked, the cacao spices made this a distinctive, utterly original, mouth-watering dish.

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Market fish-Honest Mum

The 10 Saints Craft Beer from Barbados, a cocoa infused beer was its ideal companion!

10 saints beer-Honest Mum

Sides were white chocolate mash (sounds so wrong but tastes so right) and roast kohlrabi, onions and almond cream for Peter (I think he was being selfishly-calculated with all these nut-garnished dishes)!

white chocolate mash-Honest Mum

sides-Honest Mum

Then it was drum roll time for dessert (anyone who has eaten here before will know how epic the dessert menu is)…. I’m drooling just writing this post!

We wanted everything (of course) but opted for the show stopper that was the dessert created for the BAFTA 2014 film awards dinner (well if it’s good enough for the stars huh)-50% milk chocolate mousse, cacao beer caramel, roasted mixed nuts and almond dacquiose.

Bafta dessert-Honest Mum

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Hotel Chocolat dessert-Honest MumBafta 2014 dessert

Don’t be too concerned about me either… I had chocolate soup for my pudding-a  soft meringue- floating island with sliced bananas (I asked for no toasted almonds) and caramel drizzle.

It was torture just waiting for Peter to snap away before I could sample it. By sample, I mean eat it all.

Served cool, I actually wanted to dive in and live on that little chocolatey island.

chocolate soup-Roast and Conch-Honest Mum

Quite possibly the most jaw droppingly, tongue tingling dessert I’ve eaten. Ever.

Chocolate soup-Honest Mum

Chocolate soup-Honest MumBy rights my blood sugar levels should have hit the roof by now but due to the high cocoa content and quality of ingredients, I didn’t experience a head rush or crash, so impressive after the chocolate tasting session and desserts.

You might also wonder if the cocoa was too much, overpowering or perhaps sweet especially in the savoury dishes. No, no and no.

Cocoa has been used since the Aztecs, it is only sweet when sugar is added and it works beautifully in savoury dishes, how it was originally intended.

You never feel overwhelmed by cocoa at Roast & Conch, it’s always a romantic whirlwind of a meal, a unique experience that transports you to another plain- original, fine cuisine that will simply leave you wanting more and more.

Roast & Conch, I salute you!

Disclaimer: We were gifted The Tasting Adventure and lunch at Roast & Conch in return for this honest review.

 

 

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67 Responses

  1. Alice V

    wow, talk about enjoying chocolate in a million ways! I need to find a place like this in Southern California…one just has to exist here!

    Reply
  2. Barbara

    Hey, I have just found your blog and connected to your linkys! I am looking forward to read more! As a passionate chocolate lover, I gladly indulged in these lovely pictures 🙂 Great post, thank you 🙂

    My latest post is on back to Post-natal exercise, please stop by 🙂 http://www.mumsfirstdiary.com/2014/11/90-days-challenge-starting-post.html

    Reply
  3. Jhuls

    Ohh, I wish I could sleep here. 😀 I’d like to come along the next time you visit here. 😛

    Nice to meet you, btw. 🙂 Have a lovely week ahead.

    Reply
  4. JOhn Adams

    A school, where you can learn about chocolate…just awesome! Lunch didn’t look too bad either. Must visit Leeds again when I next get the chance. #BrilliantBlogPosts

    Reply
  5. LUCY BISHOP

    Hubby and I were only looking at the menu for their London restaurant near Borough Market the other day & saying how much we want to go! It looks totally amazing – the chocolate experience sounds great too! xx

    Reply
  6. Kelly

    Professor Chocolat, what amazing photos of what looks like some fantastic food. Sounds like you had an amazing afternoon – I’m very envious! x

    Reply
  7. Hannah Mums' Days

    oh Vicki!! This looks fabulous, what a great date for you and Pete 🙂 You know you’ve made it when Hotel Chocolat come a-knocking 🙂 #BrilliantBlogPosts xxx

    Reply
  8. Ebabee

    OH MY GOD! What are you doing to me? I am on my way to Leeds now to eat there. That chocolate mousse – I wanted to reach in to the screen and take it. OMG! Want! Stunning, stunning photos as always. x

    Reply
    • honestmum

      Thanks darling, right when you come visit, I will take you on a tour of the family restaurants then we’ll head there too! We won’t eat for a week beforehand in preparation! xx

      Reply
  9. mummytries

    I like the idea of becoming a professor of chocolate 🙂 seriously though it all sounds amazing! The photos of the food are incredible – talented hubby. Salivating here xxx

    Reply
  10. Michelle Reeves (bodfortea)

    So. Much. Chocolate. *swoon* What an amazing experience! The food looks incredible (amazing photography as always honey) but I’ll just have to take your word for it about the white chocolate mash!

    Reply
    • honestmum

      Thanks darling, Peter was behind the camera, our second time reviewing and they want us back, might have to losen the jeans! Amazing xx

      Reply
    • honestmum

      It was an amazing day thanks, they wanted us to do Bean to Bar after lunch then come back for dinner but thought we’d split it into 2 days! x

      Reply
  11. JoyandPops

    That looks amazing!
    I have a serious and long standing chocolate problem! As I live in York it’s going to be far too tempting, think I’ll have to pop over for a pre Xmas treat!!
    Xx

    Reply
  12. Jess Paterson

    That place looks amazing – worth a trip up north! I adore Hotel Chocolat – also adore your pink coat, gorgeous. Fantastic photography, though I don’t know how you can wait long enough to take your shots before your dive into the puddings! xx

    Reply
  13. @markusj75

    Wow that looks amazing. I think it would have gone for the fish dish as well that to me sounds so amazing. All in all such a lovely day. Can just imagine how wonderful a day this was just you and your other half and lots of chocolate and posh food what more could you wish for?

    Reply
  14. Debbie

    Wow, it looks like you had a great date. I am more than a little envious. I have heard of the Hotel Chocolat, bu had no idea it was much more than just a chocolate shop!…

    I also had no idea that milk chocolate can have a high cocoa content. It certainly has been a day of learning.

    My choice of pudding would have been the chocolate mousse with the beer caramel and nuts. It looks like my idea of a perfect dessert and as you said {if it’s good enough for the stars!}

    One day….

    Reply
  15. Rebecca U

    Wow this looks amazing. I’ve heard there are two Hotel Chocolat restaurants, this and one in London. The Choc-au-Vin sounds divine! And you look stunning 🙂

    Reply
  16. Katie / Pouting In Heels

    Not sure I should have read this, this morning before I have my late breakfast! My oh my, it all looks and sounds absolutely delicious! The chocolate workshop sounds just amazing and as for the food, you’ve more than convinced me to pay the restaurant a visit next time I’m in Leeds.

    Wonderful post and wonderful pics. I wasn’t envious in the slightest 😉 XXXXX

    Reply
    • honestmum

      Haha you will love it Kate and perfect date place, such a unique experience-was hard to relive it all and write the post! xx

      Reply
  17. Seychellesmama

    Oh my god!!! This literally looks like the best day ever!! Date perfection!! Everything looks so scrummy I’m so envious!!!
    Pleased you got to enjoy this lovely xx

    Reply
  18. Leigh - Headspace Perspective

    Wow! I think there is only one word needed for this comment: YUM! Oh, and another could be JEALOUS! It all looks divine Vicki. Beautiful photos too, if only I could reach in and eat the food in the photos! I love Hotel Chocolat, such lovely varieties. Looks like an incredible experience xxx #BrilliantBlogPosts

    Reply

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