Chocoholics have a ready-made retreat in Leeds.
British chocolatier Hotel Chocolat’s Roast + Conch, situated on the corner of Albion Street and Boar Lane, is a three-tiered bar, chocolate shop and restaurant that is bound by the aroma of the sweet stuff.
It’s an indulgent destination for all that takes the humble cocoa bean to its extremes – blended into weird and wonderful cocktails and infused on to the dinner plate.
Influenced by the imagery of Caribbean cocoa plantations, there is weathered wood that looks as if it’s been sun-baked in Saint Lucia adorning the floors and a granite-topped chocolate brown panelled bar.
A luxurious brown leather banquette faces the bar and smaller booths sit aside it with cubed material stools below the metallic industrial vents that are exposed overhead.
Low key instrumental music and guitar-led easy listening tracks blend into the background in this intimate chocolate box of a venue, which allows conversation to flow.
It’s a really nice place to be and has settled well into the central Leeds night scene alongside its more earthy neighbour Roxy Ballroom and beer-centred Tapped Leeds around the corner.
Roast + Conch opened in Leeds in late 2013, following in the footsteps of its sister venue of the same name in Covent Garden which debuted in 2011. Both were inspired by Hotel Chocolat’s Boucan restaurant in Saint Lucia.
Upon its arrival in Leeds, Roast + Conch was a bit of an unknown quantity and the menu seemed daring and pretty pricey. It could well have been a flash in the pan.
The offering is still varied and exciting. There are, of course, plenty of varieties of hot chocolate as well as a range of beers from £4, including a cocoa brew, and a broad array of red, rose, white and sparkling wines and champagnes.
On Barfly’s last visit we were taken aback by the hefty £9 cocktail menu but times have changed and the venue is now, thankfully, far more reasonable. You wont pay more than £7 these days for any of the dozen or so mixes on offer.
We plumped for a rum, lime, nutmeg and cacao bitters Rabot Rum Sour and asked the friendly staff to rustle up the rum-based Chocolate Soother mix they trialled at Cocktails in the City 2014 despite it not being on the menu.
Both cocktails were top notch, the former having those unusual cacao notes and a pleasing sour twist while the latter was a smooth, delicious dessert of a drink.
With the addition of a light 10 Saints bottled beer, the bill came to a reasonable £18.50.
Roast + Conch is a brilliant date night treat. Having had bags of untapped potential through its unique theme, the venue is now delivering top quality at competitive prices.