As absolutely huge Hotel Chocolat fans we couldn’t have been much more excited when we found out they were based in St Lucia. We couldn’t wait to eat at their restaurant – Boucan – we’d even considered staying at their hotel but we’d fallen in love with the beautiful Sugar Beach resort.
It was just a ten minute taxi ride from our hotel which was lucky, as cab fares here are ridiculously expensive – that short round trip set us back $70! We arrived early so we had a chance to look around the resort. There wasn’t as much to see as we were expecting as a large proportion was blocked off for residents only but there was a beautiful wood-finish bar next to their restaurant with a stunning view of the Piton mountains where we enjoyed some cocktails whilst the sun set – talk about a honeymoon cliché!
Most of you will know that I’m not a big drinker, but one look at their cocktail menu and there was no doubt I was ordering a cocktail or three – the names alone are a chocolate lover’s dream! They offer twists on traditional cocktails such as chocolate daiquiris, cacao martinis and cacao bellinis but I had to order the ‘salted caramel delight’ – a mix of coconut cream, rum and their salted caramel chocolate, complete with a salted caramel rim – if there’s a way to get me to drink alcohol this is most definitely it!
We also got a ‘praline soother’ – hazelnut liquer, crème de cacao, vodka and coconut cream, a ‘turbo Baileys’ – Baileys, rum and cocoa and they had the most heavenly iced chocolate shots too in classic, mocha espresso, praline and chilli flavours. They even had liquid hot chocolate, which I would have been tempted by had it not been slightly cooler!
Along with our drinks we were brought spiced coconut chips which were incredibly more-ish.. they kindly kept refilling them until we were ready to move to our table for dinner which was dangerous! We were seated at lovely dark-wood table with a stunning view of the Pitons – not that there’s a table in that restaurant with a bad view! Like most restaurants here the restaurant is outside, with fans providing a lovely breeze – usually this would be a nightmare for sweaty people like us but it’s surprisingly cool in the evenings despite the days being scorching hot. We hadn’t looked at the menus before going (we assumed everything would be amazing and I wanted it to be a surprise!) but luckily we’d had a quick look whilst we were in the bar or I’d have taken forever to decide (when do I not!). We were brought warm focaccia as soon as we sat down and it came with dark chocolate balsamic, cocoa butter and cacao butter pesto. The pesto ‘contained a lot of different nuts’ so I was advised to steer clear of it, but given the other dips on offer that suited me just fine (and Marcus said it just tasted like normal pesto anyway.. maybe he was just being nice though!).
Unsurprisingly, the other two dips were incredible – the cocoa butter had a subtle sweet flavour and we caked it onto our bread as if it was frosting! The dark chocolate balsamic just tasted like a chocolate dip – the dark chocolate totally overpowered the balsamic, but we certainly weren’t complaining! We’d polished off the entire board of bread before we’d even ordered, and the waitress rushed over with more without us even having to ask!
For starters I went for the mahi-mahi tortellini – home made cacao pasta filled with spiced local mahi-mahi and goat’s cheese with a pumpkin-carrot-cacao nib puree and a Parmesan tuile. I couldn’t taste the goats cheese but the rest of the dish was lovely – the cacao provided a rich flavour without being sweet or overpowering, though it was slightly strange to be eating pasta that didn’t taste much like pasta! It was delicious but probably my least favourite of the three courses.
Marcus decided (by himself!) to order the sea scallops, which were marinated with cacao, seared and basted with cacao-citrus sauce. Considering he usually won’t go anywhere near seafood I couldn’t believe he’d chosen it, even if deep down perhaps he was just being his usual incredibly generous self (that was my second choice of starter and he ended up giving me half of his dish!). The scallops were cooked beautifully, though again it was my least favourite of the three courses we ordered simply because I wouldn’t have guessed there was a cacao flavour present and the other courses were just so good.
For my main I chose the yellow fin tuna. It came seared with a cacao nib crust, roast garlic-cacao butter sauce and sweet potato carrot mash. When it arrived I was surprised at the size of the portion! We found in St Lucia that meal prices of meals are generally pretty expensive .. apparently a lot of tourists come from NYC so they match the prices which means it’s not uncommon to pay $40-50 for a small main, so we were very pleasantly surprised to find that not only were the prices more reasonable, the portions were extremely generous. I was given five huge slabs of tuna (I’d ordered tuna at our hotel and paid only slightly less and got three slices so thin that they wouldn’t even have equated to one of these slabs!). The tuna was cooked to perfection – I literally couldn’t have asked for a more perfect dish. It was lightly fried with a beautiful colour on the outside, but still completely pink and unbelievably tender in the middle – it melted in my mouth! The cacao nib crust was a perfect match too and the mash was sweet, smooth and creamy. The butter sauce was a little bland and didn’t add much to the dish but otherwise it was faultless.
Unfortunately since the tuna was so perfectly cooked it was too rare for Marcus – we were meant to share but he didn’t end up taking any.. though he was still generous enough to let me share his dish. His too was just as, if not more generous! He went for the curried coconut & cacao chicken which came in a delicious creamy sauce with cacao rice, sweet potato and spinach, homemade cacao nib naan bread and a lime-papaya pickle. The chicken was served in a seemingly bottomless casserole dish – and it was absolutely packed full of chicken (as well as some delicious root veg). The cacao rice was the perfect accompaniment – tasty and piled high in a bowl – it’s hard to make a casserole rice dish look pretty but they managed it! I found the naan a little flat (my endless obsession with fluffy naan bread strikes again) but the other sides were delicious and there’s no doubt it was a very, very good dish (though for me my tuna won!).
Dessert was where the real decisions needed to be made – I could’ve eaten every single dish on the menu! Marcus said he’d read good reviews of The Magnificent Piton (soft meringue peak surrounded by chocolate soup with sliced bananas, flaked almonds and caramel drizzle). Considering I’m not huge on meringue or bananas it sounded incredibly appealing, as did the Chocolate Genesis (a 9-stage tasting plate with truffles, caramels, rare Rabot Estate chocolate and a shot of drinking chocolate), but since we’d already had chocolate shots and I (correctly!) predicted that we’d probably be brought some truffles anyway we eventually settled on the Praline Slice (a layer of chocolate sacher cake surrounded by chocolate, topped with almond praline cream, toasted almonds and a cacao crumble) and the Key Lime Pie (local lime with white and dark chocolate, biscuit base and passion fruit curd). Now I’m sure when their chocolate is as good as it is, there’s no such thing as a bad dessert choice but we were pretty damn happy with our selections – they were heavenly. Both were presented beautifully and they tasted even better. The lime in the pie was tangy and complimented the sweetness of the white chocolate perfectly. The dark chocolate came in the form of a rich, indulgent mousse and the biscuit base was crunchy and delicious – there were even little crunchy clusters on top!
The Praline Slice was apparently served at the BAFTA awards – a well deserved achievement for a dessert that tasted every bit as good as it sounded. A thick layer of indulgent chocolate surrounded a rich chocolate cake and the almond praline cream on top was deliciously sweet. The caramelized almonds on top were so good I could’ve eaten an entire bowl of them and the chocolate shards had a surprising crunch to them – they were a biscuit texture (rather than the solid chocolate I was expecting) but no less amazing.
We weren’t planning on going back again – especially with the ridiculous prices of cabs in St Lucia, but with food that good and such generous portions compared to our hotel (where we’d both order two mains!) we just couldn’t resist! The second time we were even more excited as we knew just how good it was going to be. I was so tempted to get the tuna again – it was honestly the best I’ve ever had – but we both decided to get different mains and it was a great decision. They were both just as good, and beautifully presented once again.
We shared the cacao beer jerked pork tenderloin which came on a bed of garlic mash. The meat was cooked to perfection – juicy, tender and packed full of flavour. Both of us agreed that the local dhals ‘Boucan style’ was the best thing we ordered though. At just $21 (trust me – that really is an absolute steal here – at our hotel you can’t even get a starter for that price!!) we were served the most incredible lentil and chickpea curry stuffed into cacao nib naan bread pockets and fried until golden brown and crispy. They were served alongside mashed sweet potato, veggies and more chickpeas, with 65% dark chocolate and a sprinkling of cacao nibs to add a deep, rich flavour.
For dessert we decided to try two different ones, tempted as we were to get the same as before. We chose the Chocolate Tart (which was always going to be heavenly!) which came with chocolate, hazelnut praline ice cream and cream packed full of cacao nibs. Marcus doesn’t like cream, and I’m not usually a fan either, but I absolutely demolished this pile – the cacao nibs gave it such a lovely rich flavour! The tart was predictably amazing – so smooth, rich and indulgent. The highlight for me was the hazelnut praline ice cream though – it was absolutely delicious.. it just melted a little too quickly!
We also tried the Magnificent Piton which on paper didn’t sound like it would be great for us – a soft meringue peak surrounded by chocolate soup with sliced banana, flaked almonds and a caramel drizzle. Neither of us are huge fans of meringue or banana, but we were sold on the chocolate soup alone!
When it came we loved it though – the meringue was soft and fluffy (rather than the hard, stale stuff that’s usually served!) and the soup was so sweet and delicious. We were served more truffles too and a couple of iced chocolate shots – the perfect end to yet another perfect dinner 🙂
Both of our meals were incredible from start to finish. On top of the amazing food our waitresses were lovely and the view was stunning. We were even given complimentary water – though it may not sound like a big deal a lot of restaurants here charge up to $20 (yes $20!!) for a bottle of water.. add other drinks and cocktails on top of that and prices can just get silly. I’d definitely recommend it whether or not you like chocolate (is there really anyone who isn’t a fan..!?) – it’s an amazing restaurant with absolutely stunning views and an incredible unique and innovative menu.
Link to their website: https://www.hotelchocolat.com/uk/boucan/restaurant.html