Review: Roast & Conch
Leeds , United Kingdom
I should cocoa
46 people found this review helpful
There I was, sunning myself lazily on a white sandy beach on the beautiful Caribbean island of St.Lucia, when the warm, turquoise waters began to lap at my bronzed feet.
Nice though it was, I raised myself slowly and wandered barefoot up the beach towards the fabulously luxurious Boucan Hotel. The warm sea breeze brushed past me as the sky reddened at the end of another gorgeous day.
Set on the 140 acre Hotel Chocolat cocoa plantation of the Rabot Estate, I wondered whether to have a treatment at the Cocoa Juvenate Spa or simply stroll into the Roast & Conch restaurant where every course has some form of cocoa in it.
A spurt of cold rain suddenly blew into my face as the windy conditions of a winter's evening in Leeds smashed my daydream to pieces.
All was not lost however, as my partner and I breezed into the Leeds version of Hotel Chocolat's Roast & Conch restaurant.
This is new to the dining scene in Leeds although there is a branch in London, the first in the U.K. to open outside Leeds I understand.
The premises consists of a café on the ground floor which provides lighter bites and a bar, whilst just up a few stairs, the heavenly delights of a Hotel Chocolat shop awaits.
The restaurant itself is on the first floor and the décor is very cutting edge, shades of brown dominating, naturally.
Stripped floorboards, blond-wood chairs and riveted metal topped tables compliment the industrial feel of the bare ceilings with exposed pipe and metalwork. It is actually much more comfortable and appealing than it sounds with dark brown leatherette booths around the windows and candles on each table.
An open service pass provided visual treats and great entertainment.
We were immediately impressed by the well trained and friendly staff, who took our dripping coats on entry and settled us in swiftly.
A small pot of three different roasted cocoa beans was presented and the differences were explained before we tried them. Such a variety of punchy flavours exploded in the mouth.
Our drinks requirements were established and a jug of water with fresh lemon, lime or orange slices was placed on the table.
Complimentary ceramic pots of piping hot vegetable soup topped with cocoa nibs came next, flavoursome and rich.
My starter of Yorkshire pudding filled with garlic mash and slow cooked pulled pork was lubricated with a small jug of red wine cocoa gravy. Simply delicious and I could have easily devoured more of the rich, tangy sauce.
Across the table, my partner had several slices of cocoa nib bread to contend with, dipping it into pots of chocolate balsamic (declared dreamy), nib butter and a portion of cocoa pesto, also mouth watering.
A suitable interval followed with no sense of hustling found in some restaurants on a busy Friday night. Staff were friendly, informative and a pleasure all evening.
My Roast & Conch Chilli Hamburger was a delight of artful presentation and consisted of hand-chopped rump steak with a twist of cocoa. Cooked medium rare as requested, it came in an oval cocoa-pod bread bun, topped with confit of onion,sharp vintage cheddar, and crispy dry cured bacon. The stuff of dreams. A glass of sweet potato ribbons and a tower of light and spicy battered onion rings completed the dish.
My partner went for the four hour lamb pepperpot, a superbly tender stew of lean lamb chunks enhanced with gentle spices and coconut, chopped vegetables and a pair of beer stick breads.
In a restaurant specialising in cocoa and chocolate, it was only respectful for us to indulge in desserts, despite feeling ever fuller. My intensely flavoured and delicious cocoa beer was not helping in this regard!
The most popular dessert on the menu is the Magnificent Piton, a soft meringue peak rising from a sea of chocolate soup with sliced bananas, flaked almonds and a caramel drizzle. Willy Wonka would have been proud.
My choice was a ganache tart. This arrived in the form of an almond crusty base topped with a rich, thick and powerful ganache with caramelised pecan nuts, calmed with a hazelnut praline ice cream scoop.
That just about finished us off and we had no room for coffees or the selection of chocolates on offer.
The bread starter at £3.75 was a bargain and all other starters are £6.50. Mains range from £12 to £16 unless you go for the Rib Eye of Beef at £26 and desserts are £6 to £10. Not exactly cheap, but not outrageous either, especially for this quality of menu.
There is currently no wheelchair access to the upstairs restaurant, however, the meals can be served in the equally attractive café area on the ground floor. There are plans for a lift in place and it is hoped that this can be fully operational by the end of February 2014.
An exciting and very different dining experience then with staff who are a credit to the business. They seem to have everything right here and no doubt it will go on to enhance it's already burgeoning reputation.
It is already creating waves, and speaking of waves, back to my daydream …
46 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.