Both had: Chocolate mojitos, Appetiser: Chocolate Tapanade, Chocolate Mole, Chocolate Pesto, Starter: Apricot Puree, Chocolate Drizzled Proscuitto, Rocket Salad, Main course: Cocoa Nib and Coffee Bean Crusted Lamb Chops, Couscous with Chocolate Liqueur Soaked Currents, Mint and Pea Puree with Chocolate Curls, Dessert: White Chocolate Cheesecake, Rose Meringues with Chocolate Bases, Dark Chocolate Ganache
Every year York holds a Food Festival, which if my favourite of York’s many and various festivals. It runs in September, but events kick off earlier. When the email dropped into my inbox for dinner at Sophie Jewett’s York Cocoa House for mid July, right in the middle of Colonel Mustard’s chocolate month, it seemed like fate. Chocolatey fate.
We’ve both eaten at the Cocoa House before; Mustard and I have had wraps with chocolate mole, and I took my sister there for a chocolate fondue. Sophie Jewett has also run workshops at the museum where we work. It seemed like we were a little more prepared for what a chocolate dinner might entail than some of the other guests, who were slightly confused by chocolate as a savoury flavour.
We were welcomed with mojitos, which were lovely. They used cocoa nibs rather than chocolate, which gave the drinks a nutty, roasted taste. Despite having had too much sun during the day and promising myself I’d stick to water, I had two.
The tables were arranged to seat eight, which was a little cramped in the space but encouraged people to get chatty. We were given bread and left to try the chocolate dips. I enjoyed all of them; the tapanade was rich, the mole was sweet, and the pesto was tart. The mole had the most recognisable taste of chocolate to it.
The starter split opinion across our table, but Colonel Mustard and I both really enjoyed it, and might have a go at recreating it at home. Bacon and chocolate is becoming more common – the salt and sweet really compliment each other – but what really lifted it was the apricot puree, which was sweet and juicy.
When it came to the main, the lamb was gorgeous; perfectly cooked and it had really taken on the cocoa and coffee flavour of the crust, all those umami flavours of the meat mingling with the bitter, nutty flavours of the crust. The couscous was nice – Colonel Mustard doesn’t care for couscous at all, and while I like it well enough I’ve never had any I’d rate as more than nice – but the pea puree was so minty it had a toothpaste flavour, which gave the dish an unexpectedly (and unintentionally) humorous element. When the chocolate curls melted into it, it tasted like mint aero. Appropriate, considering York is the home of the Aero, but didn’t fit with the rest of the plate.
The dessert was delicious, something every one on our table could agree on. Really rich cheesecake, little light meringues, thick, smooth ganache. Traditional chocolate desserts executed perfectly.
We both enjoyed the evening immensely and, with the exception of the mint pea puree, the food was great. We’re already fans of York Cocoa House and we’ll be going back in the future.
Colonel Mustard: Yeah, that pea puree was overwhelmingly the strongest flavour on the plate, which meant that it wasn’t just giving out a toothpastey flavour in itself but made everything else in the dish taste like eating after brushing your teeth. The salad, however, was superb, chocolate, bacon and apricot made a perfect combination of salty, savoury and sweet. Definitely the sort of thing I’d want more of.