Last week was Chocolate Week and, as part of the celebrations, French chocolatier La Maison du Chocolat launched an exclusive gastronomic experience at The Balcon. Housed in Sofitel Hotel St James, Le Balcon is a French brasserie in the centre of historical London, just a few minutes walk from St James's Park and Buckingham Palace.
I was kindly invited to taste and review the luxury three-course menu and, I must say, it was the highlight of my week!
Now, I love hotels. Even more, I love 5-star hotels. I love Art Deco architecture. I love chocolate. And I love getting out of my office on a Thursday and spend two hours in a nice restaurant eating a gourmet meal with a friend! It was just the perfect opportunity for me.
I was expecting original combinations of ingredients and delicious food, which I found, but I was surprised to discover that the dishes were also filling and satisfying, like proper 'comfort food'. I'm glad to read that Judith of Mostly About Chocolate felt the same about the menu being filling and good value for money.
The location was of course stunning: bright, elegant, spacious, crowded enough not to make you feel lonely, but not too much to get noisy. A formal setting, yet one where you immediately feel at ease.
The service was impeccable and a special thank you goes to the restaurant manager who recommended us two wonderful wines to accompany our courses: a Sauvignon Blanc Pouilly-Fumé Villebois Loire 2011 and a Chenin Blanc Coteaux du Layon ‘Les 4 Villages’ 2007.
The menu was created by the Executive Chef of Le Balcon, Vincent Ménager, and developed together with la Maison du Chocolat, who provided the chocolate used for the three dishes.
We started off with Seared Sea Scallops with Quinoa, Roasted Cocoa Nibs, Rocket Salad, Cocoa Dressing, Sweet Orange Tuile.
Second course was Roasted Rabbit Saddle with Black Olive and Rosemary, Butternut Squash Purée, Black Trumpets, Girolles Mushroom and Chocolate Mole Sauce.
For dessert, we had Molten Chocolate and Ginger Cake with Coconut and Saffron Cream.
As a final treat, we tasted some chocolate truffles by La Maison du Chocolat.
La Maison du Chocolat menu is available at The Balcon for lunch and dinner, from 9th to 23rd October at £35 per head (drinks not included).
I really loved the menu and I find the price a fair one, considering the quality/quantity of food, location and service. You still have time to try it, don't miss the chance!
Disclaimer: I was a guest at the restaurant to review the menu. All views are my own.