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Hotel Chocolat leads the way
in Cocoa Cuisine at Rabot 1745
By Anopama Balasubramaniam

Borough Market – London’s oldest fruit and veg market – recently acquired a new neighbour. Overlooking the bustling market, is the pioneering chocolate brand Hotel Chocolat’s new restaurant Rabot 1745, which will no doubt become as much a part of the area’s history as the market itself.

Named after Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate cocoa plantation in Saint Lucia, which dates back to 1745, Rabot 1745 combines the style of a West Indian plantation house with modern British interior design. Influenced by the West Indies and Britain, the menu was created by Chef Jon Bentham, who built the reputation of the Boucan restaurant in Saint Lucia, and is one of the unsung heroes of British cooking. Now back in London, he has brought the cocoa cuisine developed at the Boucan to Rabot 1745, underpinning contemporary dishes with cocoa.

Dining at Rabot 1745 for lunch on its opening day, I was afforded the opportunity to glimpse the hustle and bustle of Borough Market from a table by the window, as well as enjoy the interior décor - rustic wood flooring and wood panelling around the bar that contrasted with the dark brown leather, padded walls and cubicles.

Following the advice of my friendly waitress, I opted for dishes that would offer a broad introduction to cocoa cuisine. For something to sip between courses I tried their refreshing Cacao Martini made with cacao pulp, vodka, soursop, and lemon verbena.

My starter of a Pearl Barley Scotch Egg was a vibrant plate of caramelized carrots, beetroot wafer, a crisp, soft-centred quail’s egg encrusted with cocoa-nibs, a light goat’s cheese dressing, and a cocoa oil emulsion flecked with cocoa nibs. The subtle cocoa flavours complemented the nutty flavour of the pearl barley.

For my main course I had the Slow-Roast Shoulder Of Lamb with roast garlic mash and seasonal vegetables. The Lake District Herdwick lamb couldn’t be more tender as the meat fell off the bone. Its intense flavour was matched by the silky lamb jus and robust garlic flavour of the mash. While I couldn’t detect the flavour of the Cocoa Balsamic Vinegar that had been used to marinate the lamb, no doubt it enhanced the flavour of the lamb, which thereby remained the star of the dish. Intrigued by the White Chocolate Mash, I ordered it as a side dish. It proved to be the ultimate comfort food: rich, smooth, moreish and with a hint of sweetness.

Dessert is my favourite course, and after a rich main course I chose the Homemade Sorbets – three scoops in the flavours: soursop-cacao pulp, guava, and pineapple- lime. All three sorbets were light, fruity, refreshing, and not too sweet.

To round off my meal I had a macchiato style whole bean cacao drink that was similar to a light hot chocolate, and a Cocoa Royale – a cafetiere of crushed cocoa nibs and shells that when steeped for a few minutes produced a delicate cocoa flavour.

Overall, the meal was delicious, and having ventured out to a cocoa cuisine restaurant for the first time, I had no regrets, and only good memories. Besides showcasing cocoa cuisine in London, Rabot 1745 also features cocoa bean roasting, conching and on-site small batch chocolate making. Thus, on the ground floor you’ll find a chocolate boutique and cocktail bar, where you can indulge your passion for chocolate, knowing the provenance of what you eat and drink. Ultimately, Rabot 1745 reconnects consumers with the origins of chocolate, and feeds the passion of chocolate lovers.

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