Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some sort of incessant chocoholic but I love bar, a tempered square, a cocoa powdered truffle as much as the next guy. Come winter though with the temperature plummeting into the negatives and frost biting at our heels, what I yearn for is a luxuriously rich, deep, nuanced hot chocolate. A comfort cup that chases away all the icicles. Here I’ll share my two favourite places to drink hot chocolate in London that justly provides this de-icing service: Rabot 1745 at Borough Market and Melt in Notting Hill. If these aren’t your favourites, let me know and I will run to them to grab a hot choc straight away!
You’re done with crunching your way down Southbank where the rain and Thames alike have lapped their way onto the pedestrian walkway and the resulting moisture has made friends with the grit. If you were royalty from Princess and the Pea, you’d have no problem feeling these mini rocks beneath your feet. You meander down to Borough Market and almost die a horrible death having quasi-slipped on the ice that has embedded itself in the cobbles. You’ve had enough, so what do you do?
Slap bang in the middle of the Borough Market world on Bedale Street is the chocolate h(e)aven that is Rabot 1745. A sophisticated, stay in and dine or drink tangent from Hotel Chocolat, appropriately named after their cocoa plantation in St Lucia, is cladded in wood with touches of steel, window shutters and hessian bags. Emanating that wooden cabin feel, Rabot is always warm and exudes an immediate chocolatey smell the second you walk in. After wandering around the hot food stalls at Borough, this lush, sweet and comforting smell is gratefully welcomed. Sniff away.
My favourite spot is the stainless steel table by the chocolate shelves and door which is often open. They pump so much heating into the cafe downstairs that you never get cold being sat by the door and are away from the shimmying every other punter has to do to find a table in the other parts of the cafe.
All hot chocolates come at two different price points, £3.45 for a regular and £3.95 for a large, with the a twirl of cocoa infused whipped cream or a cheeky shot of rum for an additional cost. Various cakey delights adorn the counter which reflects Rabot 1745’s raison d’etre – all food done well with utilising chocolate as a point of difference. A fairly natural chocolate additions to the scones or banana cake for example, although I am yet to try the restaurant’s menu on the second floor.
Back to why we are here – the hot chocolates.
SALTED CARAMEL: my go to because life is not worth living without extra caramel in your life. Some may find it too sweet though.
HAZELNUT: for squirrels or nut lovers, the hazelnut flavour comes through very well and complements the chocolate too.
MADE IN BOROUGH: hard core chocolate lovers look this way. A 70% blend that is a little bitter for me personally, but if you are not into sugary sweet chocolates then this one is destined for you!
CLASSIC: interestingly, another 70% but it does not compare to the Made in Borough hot choc. This one is not as thick and luxurious, and definitely not as nuanced but if you want a darker chocolate, but not bitter, then this one might be the answer.
COFFEE: fancy. mocha. enough said.
CHILLI: admittedly I have never been brave enough to try this one, as chilli isn’t really my thing. So if you have, please let me vicariously live through you (and not have to taste the spicy spicy) and let me know what it’s like!
Miles away from Rabot 1745 in terms of aesthetic and location because it’s on the other side of London on Ledbury Road. Melt has a transparent approach to chocolate, it has the kitchen just down from the counter where truffles are made daily so that a fresh selection is always available. The walls are white, clean straight lines and few furnishings with a bench garnished with a sheepskin rug by the large window, perfect for settling down for a few New York minutes (oh wait we are in London), cup of steaming chocolate in hand watching the world pass by.
The team are so incredibly knowledgable and happy to chat chocolate. At the time I visited, there was a couple sat on stools by the main kitchen counter partaking in a truffle making class. Flushed in the cheeks and smiling, they were loving life.
Melt’s hot chocolates are incredibly thick and full-bodied but slide down so easily despite the richness. Made on site and topped up when needed, they mix their recipe of 70% dark chocolate, 30% milk chocolate, cream and milk. At £1.50 a pop for a small (a little bigger than an espresso cup), it hit the spot and was the best price to size to chocolatey luxuriance ratio.
The most beautiful compromise would be for Rabot 1745 and Melt to get together and make a little baby that embraced Rabot’s aesthetic and their flavour shots with Melt’s approachability and hot chocolate base. With a working kitchen in tact all that would be needed was a bed on which to sprawl the sheepskin as clearly I would live here and never leave. Talk about paradise!
|Monday||8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.|
|Tuesday||8:00 a.m. – late|
|Wednesday||8:00 a.m. – late|
|Thursday||8:00 a.m. – late|
|Friday||8:00 a.m. – late|
|Saturday||9:00 a.m. – late|
|Sunday||9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.|
Melt Notting Hill
|Mon – Sat||10:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.|
|Sunday||11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.|