The smart Hotel Chocolat shops are a treasure trove of (mostly) gluten free chocolate treats, with some dairy & soya free to boot, but until a chocolate-loving family member pointed it out, I was unaware that they also run several restaurants. I immediately booked a Christmas treat of a ‘Bean to Bar’ workshop at London’s Rabot 1745, followed by lunch at the restaurant; hoping for a great gluten free experience – I wasn’t disappointed.
The varied menu pulling influences (and spices) from across the ‘cocoa belt’ countries sounded eclectic, but simply delicious. Pleasingly, gluten free items are well-labelled, chips are cooked separately, and yes, there are puddings on offer. Tick, tick and tick!
Salmon with honeyed carpaccio of beetroot and adorned with tiny blobs of white chocolate horseradish was simple, yet satiating; a pan-fried fillet of hake with creole spices was zingy and sadly not crispy, but otherwise beautifully cooked, and served atop a delicious almond purée. The chips were a little ordinary, but the accompanying chocolate aioli was surprisingly good, creamy and tangy.
I’ll be honest, the chocolatey components to the menu and venue are somewhat gimmicky: Cacao nibs in mills alongside the salt and pepper; cocoa butter toiletries; and savoury cacao garnishing, well, everything; but in a sleek modern building, with toasty terrace overlooking the buzz and hum of Borough Market, this was otherwise a civilised treat for two. Plus, with the smell of freshly roasted ground cacao wafting from the café below, I could forgive them anything.
The chocolate workshop itself was fascinating – a simple introduction to the process of chocolate making and just the right balance of talking and doing – I came away with 4 bars of gluten (and dairy) free chocolate I had made myself (including grinding the cacao from scratch!) and a greater appreciation for what makes a good bar. If you have any room after that little lot, Borough Market beckons beneath, with lots of delicious naturally gluten free produce, and treats from the Sugargrain Free From Bakehouse. I definitely recommend making a day of it.
Glutenfreeability: 9/10 (no bread, not that we needed it)
A 3 course meal for 2 with wine was about £110.