When we decided on St. Lucia as the destination for our girls trip, we quickly learned how many friends had traveled there in the past and were eager to share their suggestions. Everyone who had stayed at the resort we selected, Sugar Beach, insisted that we get treatments at the Rainforest Spa and that we book a sunset cruise with Mystic Man Tours. Those who had stayed elsewhere or traveled off premise, kept sharing the same recommendation: Hotel Chocolat.
Hotel Chocolat is a hotel on a revived cacao plantation that has become famous for their restaurant. Every item on the menu, from cocktails to appetizers to entrees to desserts, has cacao infused in some way. I don't think I could have dreamed up a more decadent dining experience.
To get there, we took a taxi from Sugar Beach to Hotel Chocolat. The ride was about 15 minutes. Due to COVID concerns, when we arrived, the hotel security guards took our temperatures and spritzed sanitizer onto our hands.
The restaurant is up a very dramatic flight of stairs. The stairs are L-shaped and when you turn the corner to ascend those final steps, you are met with this view:
Every single table has a view of the Piton mountains, and we arrived just as the sun was beginning to set. This was a major "pinch me" moment.
The dining room is open to the outside on all four sides. The tables and chairs are a beautiful teak wood. We were all joking that this is the kind of deck furniture we'd want from Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware.
Once seated, we were greeted by a very friendly and enthusiastic server. She was eager to share with us the history of the cacao plantation and how the current chefs utilize every part of the cacao pod and plant throughout the menu.
To begin, we perused the cocktail menu. Knowing there'd likely be a strong chocolate flavor in anything we chose made us giddy with anticipation.
From left to right: the chocolate martini, the mochattino, the mango, chili and white chocolate margarita, and the cacao gin and tonic.
Here is what each gal had to say about her beverage:
- Chocolate martini - "This tastes like dessert in a glass!"
- Mochattino - This was my drink and I thought it tasted like a mocha latte and an espresso martini had a love child. Espresso martinis can be heavy (many people order them for dessert), but this was light. It was garnished with a dusting of cocoa powder on top, which was a welcomed addition.
- Mango, chili and white chocolate margarita - "The drink is thick from the pureed mango. The chili on the rim gives each sip a good zing!"
- Cacao gin and tonic - "I know this is cacao-infused gin, but you can't really taste it. It tastes just like a regular gin and tonic."
With drinks in hand, our server brought us a tray of bread with three accompaniments: chocolate balsamic vinegar, cacao butter, and a cacao-infused pesto.
The chocolate balsamic was great and would taste incredible drizzled over a tomato mozzarella salad. The cacao butter had almost a nutty taste to it. It was addicting. I wish I could have brought a container home with me to spread on toast each morning. Nutella, watch out! You have a valiant competitor. And lastly, the cacao pesto didn't actually taste like chocolate at all, but was still yummy.
We placed our order for the main course and while we waited, we were delivered an amuse bouche. This was a complete and total surprise.
It was a mini cup of sweet potato and spinach soup with a small crunch of chocolate on top. Each of us was floored by how delicious this was!
For the entree round, two of the girls decided on the sea scallops. They were marinated in cacao nibs, basted in cacao-citrus sauce, and pan seared. They were served with a roasted pumpkin puree, more cacao nibs and local plantains.
One of the ladies really enjoyed the dish, sharing that "the flavors were fantastic. And I loved the addition of the plantains." The other was a bit less thrilled. She commented, "The scallops were only lightly cooked. I wished they had been seared for longer. For me, this wasn't a standout dish."
To my left, a friend ordered the cacao linguini served with carrots, zucchini, bell peppers and pumpkin in a tomato basil sauce. I was considering this dish too, so I was very curious to hear her thoughts.
After a few twirls of pasta, she said, "This isn't mind blowing. The veggies have a good crunch, but the tomato broth is the most flavorful part. It doesn't really like taste like it has chocolate at all."
I also went with a pasta dish, the cacao cannelloni. Each piece of pasta was rolled and filled with local vegetables that had been prepared in a tomato sauce (likely the exact same components of the linguini dish). Though mine was then topped with a roasted pumpkin puree.
To me, this had a very similar flavor profile to butternut squash ravioli. The dish was much more sweet than savory. It had large parmesan crisps on top, which added a much needed crunch to an otherwise completely soft dish.
We were a bit underwhelmed by the entrees. I think we came into the evening expecting the chocolate taste to be much more bold, like you'd experience at Max Brenner.
That said, we still had dessert ahead of us and we were hopeful.
From the moment we made this reservation (two weeks before the trip), one of the girls already knew she was going to order the chocolate lava cake. It came with a side of cacao nib-infused ice cream.
She cut into the cake and the fudge flowed right out. I've eaten a lot of lava cakes in my life and I've never seen one with such a generous surprise on the inside! On the menu, it read, "inspired by the Soufriere volcano in the valley behind us."
A few bites in, she remarked, "This is amazing. I can't get over how much fudge is inside. The ice cream wasn't my favorite part, but it did help cut the richness of the cake."
Across from her, a friend ordered the citrus groves which was white chocolate lemon curd over shortbread, topped with meringue shards. It also came with a generous scoop of mango sorbet.
When I asked how she was enjoying it, she replied, "I'm not really a dessert person, but this is great. The lemon curd is strong and tart in the best way and paired perfectly with the shortbread. The mango sorbet is incredibly flavorful. I also loved the meringue pieces. They reminded me of candy cigarettes."
Two of us were intrigued by a dessert titled "the story of chocolate on ice." It came with three scoops (right to left): one made from the cacao pulp, one made with cacao nibs, and then their signature chocolate ice cream.
I liked the cacao nib ice cream best. It almost tasted like caramel. My bestie ranked the cacao pulp as her top choice. She called it "very refreshing." It almost tasted more like sorbet. We both agreed that the chocolate ice cream was yummy, but not the most special of the three.
Our waitress brought us two pieces of chocolate and a fudge sauce to pour over the top. When you drizzled the sauce it hardened, like Magic Shell. That was a delightful surprise!
At this point, we were so full we felt like we needed to be rolled home. On the ride back to Sugar Beach, we all agreed that the best parts of the Hotel Chocolat experience were the breathtaking views and the unique cocktails.
If we were to go again, we'd likely plan to arrive at sunset, have one or two drinks, then change venues for dinner.
*All photography by Molly Galler.