On Tuesday night I attended Hotel Chocolat’s summer party at their Roast & Conch Restaurant in Leeds. The event was held to promote the restaurant’s new summer menu, as well as showcasing some of their cocktails and new stock, and in exchange for my £15 ticket I was plied all night with cocktails, canapés and delicious chocolates. However I couldn’t help but feel that the night fell somewhat short…
I arrived with my friend just after 6pm, and we were greeted by a member of staff who took our tickets and directed us into the cafe where cocktails were lined up on the bar. We had the choice of a praline martini-type tipple called a praline soother, or a summery rum punch. After a lot of deliberation I chose the soother, which was deliciously cream without being too rich.
As we sipped our drinks we started to wander around the cafe. One table had a range of dishes from their menu laid out for show which was interesting; I never even knew that Roast & Conch did brunch! They all looked delicious but annoyingly none of them had labels to show what they were. I was perked up, however, by a delicious carrot cake chocolate!
By the time we’d finished our cocktails, taken the necessary selfies and browsed the food display, it was nearing 7pm. This was where our issues started. Aside from being handed a few tasters by waiters bearing platters, no staff had come round to chat to us or let us know what was going to happen throughout the night, and truth be told we felt a little lost. We wandered upstairs, but were only met by more guests and food that, however beautiful it looked, we couldn’t eat. My one solace was a slice of salted caramel brownie, that I will definitely be sneaking back to the cafe for fairly soon. Probably more than once.
We floated around for a while longer, had a few more free drinks and some chocolate samples, but ultimately left around 8pm. When my friend heard about the event from a sales assistant at the store she was given the impression that there were going to be lots of things going on, but after two hours we had eaten all the chocolate we could stomach and were, to be honest, a little bored. Speaking of freebies though, we did get a pretty beautiful goodie bag, featuring a chocolate lolly, delicious fruit bombes, and some mojito chocolates with more of a kick than your average cocktail.
As someone who currently spends a large portion of her working week planning events, I felt frustrated because I felt like the organisers had missed so many opportunities to make the evening into more than just a night of free food and drink. There could have been chocolate-making demonstrations, cocktail masterclasses, food and wine pairing workshops, chefs talking guests through the dishes on display…but instead it was just your standard night at a bar, with more free stuff. A lovely night, but at £15 a ticket I felt short-changed. Thanks for the freebies Hotel Chocolat, but next year let’s see some fireworks!