Review – Roast and Conch, Leeds
So, Roast and Conch is the second Hotel Chocolat restaurant (there’s one in London). First off, it’s great fun. I have to disclose, I’ve been a few times now, sampling brunch, snacks and evening meals. It appeals to me in many ways, most specifically in their ability to fit chocolate into EVERY COURSE of a meal. So, it is high time I did a little review of mr Roast and Conch, Leeds.
Their use of cocoa nibs does really make for some new and deep flavours. The evening menu slightly let me down (I had the slow cooked lamb which they had on the menu a few months ago, in the chilly winter, and I also had a gnocchi starter which was missing several of the components missing from the menu description). The Man’s Trinidad platter was okay – he really loved it but I remember the curry as being pretty devoid of the real depth that cooking with spices can offer. I had white chocolate mashed potato as a side, which sounds heinous but was miraculously awesome in an ‘I can’t stop eating this and I’m not sure why’ sort of a way.
So, this time we had a little voucher for a free drink and a cake/cookie/biscuit. And I am never one to turn down a voucher. Literally, never. So, late on a Saturday morning we finally got round to breakfast.
I had banana cake with cocoa nibs, and he had illegal parkin. Illegal, because apparently there is an ‘official’ parkin recipe. Yorkshire. You are JUST TOO MUCH.
We had hot chocolate two ways – the salted caramel hot chocolate and the Made in Leeds hot chocolate. I chose salted caramel – it’s a well established, firm favourite of mine. I thought the Made in Leeds would be that Parisian sort of hot choc – the melted bar of dark chocolate with a drizzle of unasked for diabetes-inducing cream stirred through through it, just to increase vom-factor. No one needs that kind of chaos.
But it wasn’t like that, not at all! It was a revelation in milky chocolate form! It had all the richness of posh dark chocolate, but then they had really diluted it down through the milk, so actually this hot choc was a thinner texture than mine was. It was great. Apparently the chocolate choices change monthly (was this one Ecuadorian? I can’t really remember…it depends what they are roasting and conching in the corner) but if the monthly changes are always as good as what I had, it’s a hands-down winner.
To the banana cake and the parkin. Well…they were free, which was really, really nice. And I could not be bothered to cook breakfast myself. But to be quite honest, my banana cake recipe is approximately 5 thousand million times better than this was. This was SO DRY. I don’t even know how you make a banana cake dry, but they managed.
That said, if I can lay my hands on some cocoa nibs to put into my banana cake, I definitely will. They really add a lovely dark richness that you can’t quite place. The parkin was alright. Rich, nibby, gingery cake. Gingery cake isn’t really what I’d generally go for, but even the server advised against the brownie…which is sort of a let-down in a chocolate shop. Come on, all that it takes to make a good brownie are quality ingredients and undercooking (slash, just NOT OVERCOOKING – dry brownies, again, are the bane of my life). Honesty appreciated though Mr Server!
The lobster hollandaise is beaut for breakfast – they are genuinely generous with the lobster meat, and the hollandaise is great. When I last went, they didn’t have any on though – the lobster had “gone off”. NOOOOOO! You can’t promise lobster to me and then not deliver! It’s like meeting Saint Paul at the pearly gates and being given the wrong key!
The maple and cocoa nib bacon is tasty too. And the brunch cocktails? Yes! The marmalade martini was a piece of genius. Perfectly tart and gin-y for a Saturday morning.
In conclusion…Hotel Chocolat is great fun. Go for brunch! The food menu is exciting on paper, but often a letdown in the mouth. If they could raise the cooking talent/experience in the back to meet the aspirations which are clear on the menu, this place is going to be my favourite place ever. As it stands, it’s just overpriced fun.
Get a Made in Leeds hot chocolate, pig-out on some lobster hollandaise and have a great start to your weekend with a marmalade martini…but maybe head somewhere else for lunch and tea.
What did you think of Roast and Conch?
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