LONDON REVIEW: Rabot 1745, Borough Market
By Helen Wright
- Price before wine and tip £66 for two people (three courses)
- House wine £12
- Food type Contemporary
- Best dish Yorkshire pudding filled with cacao glazed pulled pork, white chocolate mash and cacao red wine jus, £8 (starter)
- Is booking required? Not required, but recommended
- Dress code Smart casual
Until Rabot 1745 opened in November 2013 my knowledge of ‘Cocoa Cuisine’ didn’t extend any further than having a Galaxy Ripple for dinner because I was too lazy to go to Tesco. When I heard posh choccie chain Hotel Chocolat were opening a restaurant in foodie favourite Borough Market, I was curious to find out what kind of gastro delights could possibly be dreamt up in such a well-heeled Wonka kitchen.
The restaurant is named after the company’s Rabot Estate cocoa plantation in St Lucia, which dates back to 1745 and has a menu created by Chef, Jon Bentham. In a time where celebrity chefs are having a ‘moment’ Jon Bentham has been quietly building a reputation as executive chef at celeb-favourite Toucan restaurant on the island of St Lucia. Having trained with some of Britain’s biggest cooking talents including Brian Clivas, Gary Rhodes and Tom Kerridge, Yorkshire born Jon has now brought his Caribbean influenced skills home to feed to a wanton London crowd who are always hungry for new and exciting tucker.
As it turns out, ‘cacao infused’ dishes aren’t really the fine dining equivalent of Cadbury’s Marvellous Creations that I was expecting (think spag bol with some M&Ms thrown in and a side of Yorkie ice cream). Instead, we are offered a classy menu featuring common favourites such as beef and Yorkshire pud, risotto and mac’n’cheese, all with an elegant hint of cocoa. Essentially, each item has just enough chocolate to know it’s hidden in there but not too much that you leave feeling like a five-year-old at a birthday party.
Sugar rush aside, the slow cooked lamb shoulder (£18) is so creamy it almost slides off your fork like melting lava and virtually evaporates in your mouth. The meat is pre-marinated in cocoa balsamic vinegar which brings out the tender flavour and served with white chocolate mash to juxtapose the wine gravy.
My mini roast beef starter (£8) was the highlight with all the foodgasmic highlights of a blow out Sunday lunch in one easily manageable portion. Cut into the crispy Yorkshire pud and out pours a scoop of creamy mash. Food heaven.
The restaurant itself has a small, chic cabin style dining room with all the interiors built from reclaimed wood and materials. It’s light, breezy and cool with a few cute corners if you’re after date night intimacy. For groups, the asymmetric terrace which looks over Borough Market is one of London’s hidden gems, ideal if you want to join the locals for an after-work Cocoa Martini (Rabot Martini, £9).
To sample the delights but spend a little less, Saturday brunch is a good shout – give the mac and cheese pie a whirl. Wild mushrooms, vintage cheddar, leeks and truffle-cacao oil, (£15) is the hangover cure of champions.
2-4 Bedale Street, Borough Market, London SE1,
020 7378 8226.
Open all week, lunch noon-2.30pm (11am-3pm Sun); dinner 6-10.30pm (10pm Mon-Wed).
What we had:
Yorkshire pudding filled with cacao glazed pulled pork, white chocolate mash and cacao red wine jus, £8
Cacao dressed asparagus salad with soft boiled egg, new season peas, cacao pulp cheese and sourdough croutes, £8
Nine-hour braised lamb shoulder, cacao balsamic glaze, new season pea puree and cacao garlic mash, £18
The pork shack – cacao crust pork cutlet, summer bean cassoulet, garden mint, cocoa sauce, £16
Salted caramel cremeux, 72% chocolate mousse, Brittany shortbread, £8
Trio of tasting bars, £10 for three or £3.75 each
(The Gin Bar • 79% Dark • 65% Supermilk)
CÔTES DU RHÔNE, Domaine Perrin, Rhône, France 2011, £19