The day after I got back from Costa Rica I visited the new Hotel Chocolat restaurant in Borough Market - Rabot 1745. It was the perfect way to complete my holiday and catch up with friends, over more chocolate! Every dish contains cacao (roasted cocoa beans) in some form or other. Apparently cacao has been used in savoury cuisine far longer that it has with confectionery. I already knew that chocolate can be very versatile, but I was keen to see how cacao works in savoury dishes too.
We started the meal with a cacao bean tasting. The beans were from Vietnam and tasted quite different from those that I had been eating for the previous couple of weeks at La Iguana. I happened to have some of my roasted beans from La Iguana in my bag and it was great to be able to compare them.
After my experience with the delicious flavours of the fresh cacao pulp at La Iguana, there was no contest when it came to deciding which drink to order; the Fresh Cacao Bellini. The taste wasn't the same as that of the exotic mangosteen flavour that I experienced in Costa Rica but it was still delicious, especially with the bubbles! Apparently different varieties of cacao pods have different exotic fruit flavours in the pulp such as mango; I can't wait to try some more!
We were offered a complementary amuse-bouche of butternut squash soup served with cacao buttered and nibbed bread. This was a lovely surprise and great way to warm up the palate.
For my starter I chose the Scallop Salad. This included Seared Scottish scallops, beet carpaccio, apple-beet matchsticks, wintercress leaves, curried nib oil and a horseradish white chocolate condiment. This was a great collection of flavours and textures.
For my main I ordered the Creole Monkfish. This dish consisted of Cacao-creole spiced Cornish monkfish, roasted and served with caramelised fennel and artichoke, winter greens and Marcona almond purée. This was another intriguing collection of textures and flavours; beautifully cooked monkfish with a variety of spices and the smooth almond paste. I mopped up every last residue!
For dessert, I ordered the Coconut Milk and Rum Panna Cotta. This was served with a fresh papaya and mango salsa and a small cacao-nibbed biscuit. There was a subtle warmth from the rum and the creamy flavours of the rum and coconut melted over the tongue with each spoonful. This was delectable, as I'd hoped it would be!