Who would think it’s a good idea to open a restaurant halfway up a hill in a rainforest more than four thousand miles away? The founders of Hotel Chocolat did. Perhaps it was the rum. At the time, Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris felt they deserved a drink. It was 2010 and they’d just spent four years restoring the 250-year-old Rabot Estate cacao planation on the island of Saint Lucia, discovering all there was to know about cacao and how to farm it responsibly.
As they sat on the estate house verandah, snacking on cacao nibs as a Caribbean sun eased behind the Piton Mountains, they thought: Wouldn’t it be great if everyone could come here? Several rums later, it was decided: Hotel Chocolat would build a restaurant and hotel in the estate grounds. It would be called Boucan. It would serve an new kind of Anglo-Saint-Lucian cuisine – contemporary dishes influenced by the West Indies and Britain, with roasted cacao beans used as a subtle savoury spice and garnish, just as they had in the centuries before chocolate was invented.
Two years later, Boucan opened to rave reviews, quickly becoming the hottest restaurant in Saint Lucia, acclaimed for its innovative cooking. Our dishes are not about chocolate, they’re all about cacao, some with subtle hints, some with more intense and earthy flavours. Ingenious chefs, surrounded by cacao that grew on the trees around their open kitchen, had learned how to conjure up dishes with unique harmonies of taste you just wouldn’t find anywhere else, from the exquisite cacao-nib encrusted fillet of pork to the astonishing Fresh Cacao Bellini.
Guests came from around the world, and when diners began to flock from New York, a short-haul flight away, to a restaurant in a rainforest set up by eccentric Brits, we knew it was time to bring the Boucan experience back home. So, from Saint Lucia to London. In 2013, we flung open the doors to Rabot 1745 in Borough Market in London and to the Hotel Chocolat Flagship in Leeds. Come and experience our amazing cuisine for yourself in stylish venues crafted with the character of a Caribbean plantation house.