Sunday, 5 February 2012

Roast+Conch from Hotel Chocolat

I'm a fan of Hotel Chocolat, particularly their Rabot Estate branded products. I was therefore excited for them to open their newest shop on Monmouth Street which promises a new concept from their others. Roast+Conch at Seven Dials on the edge of Covent Garden is to produce small batches of chocolate from whole beans, shipped from their Rabot Estate in Saint Lucia. Whilst there is a more conventional retail space upstairs, all this chocolate alchemy goes on downstairs in a open-kitchen that doubles as a basement cafe.

It's also in this downstairs space that they serve something else new that I specifically braved the bitter cold to try. I'm talking about the other new concept in this shop which is for the cafe to offer hot drinks which usually use roasted coffee beans and substitute them with roasted cocoa beans. Alternatively, you can go for one shot of each. And by roasted cocoa, I don't mean, hot chocolate by any means. This is a completely different experience (although, the cafe do also offer their "liquid chocolate" if that's more your thing). 

I ventured down this winding, black metal staircase and arrived in the cafe which is semi-industrial looking cavern which evoked an immediate cosy feel, however the fact it was so cold outside may have added to this. Either way, it's a smart-looking space with a mix of whitewashed exposed brick and white painted rendered walls. Seating is a mix of individual table seating, three corners with large communal tables surrounded by banquettes and mini stools, as well as some bar seating around the edges. 

Behind the counter there are various, impressive-looking pieces of machinery used for working with chocolate including a winnower (which separates the cocoa shell from the nib), a bean breaker (cracks the shell and releases the nib) and the eponymous conch (stone grinds and refines the nibs into chocolate). 

I was only passing through and so just opted to sample a flat white (£2-50) made with their roasted cocoa beans. However, if you were feeling hungry, they also offer some interesting sounding chocolate-themed food with warm cocoa wraps which are filled with ingredients such as duck confit, coriander, roast cocoa and cherries. If you want something sweeter they also offer sweet cocoa wraps. The hazelnut chocolate spread and whipped cocoa cream filling sounded particularly appetising. 

The flat white was well made with good milk work. The drink had a great, deep and strong cocoa smell. The cocoa does not have the same level of bitterness that you get with coffee and the roast does not seem as rich with a good coffee. This meant that I found it lighter and a fruitier than coffee and is a great drink in it's own right that I would definitely recommend trying at least once. Personally, considering I'm yet to try their food and because, I may as well admit, I have somewhat of an insatiable chocolate craving, I will definitely be returning. 


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1 comment:

  1. Nice post..It's a nice mix up and sure will taste better..