Bar Chocolat indulges at Mercer Street Studios
In a production featuring art installations that tantalise the senses, moderate theatrics that cheerily entertain and a mouth-watering three-course menu that is abundant with creativity, the experience of Bar Chocolat at Mercer Street Studios in Central London is far more than just fine dining.
Exploring the theme of “sensory pleasure” with chocolate, renowned chocolatier Amelia Rope plays on our senses of sight, smell and taste, with three chocolate cabinets that visually depict creations sampled along the tour. From cream colours and sea shells representing salt and caramel, to bright floral decorations illustrating meadows and bringing to light the taste of rose and mint, it concludes with earthy-tones and deep browns, symbolic of cocoa and ginger in a short journey that is conceptually appealing.
Culinary alchemists and architects Bompas & Parr entice with their Cabinet Luxe, which uses the unique fragrances of chocolate to explore sensory pleasure. This intricately designed piece features compartments that emit flavoursome vapours of various chocolate essences for you to inhale. By removing the visual element in this instillation, you are more open to using your other senses. Though some scents can be quite overwhelming, the experience is fun nonetheless.
The final exhibit before the main gastronomic event features a moving tableau by filmmaker Tabitha Denholm. Showcasing four ostentatiously dressed women sampling exquisite foods at a banquet table, the subtleties of this piece are easily overlooked in the rush to start the dining experience. With a soundtrack by Lou Hayter and nuances that intend to provoke thought, it’s a shame that such little attention is paid to the efforts of the artists.
In a lavish bar with elegant seating and an enormous tree with gold foliage, guests wait to be seated, and when the sheer white curtains part the modern dining area is revealed. Food experimentalist duo Blanch and Shock first present us with a contemporary-looking appetiser of langoustine and brown shrimp with gilt-head bream and hogweed seed in a glass box, chilled on ice. With a crème fraîche and parsley sauce to compliment the seafood dish, the fusion creates a refreshing and savoury starter that is not overfilling and leaves the palette cleansed for the entrée ahead.
Contrary to convention, the second course is served directly on the table, individually designed and portioned right in front of your eyes. With British dry-cured ham, British Bresaola, cider-glazed baby turnips and pickled radishes, with a sweetcorn, cream and whiskey sauce, the sight is a work of an art in itself. While the colours and plating techniques create a visually stunning spread, the helpings are quite minimal and leave something to be desired for the palate. The saline taste of the pungent meats is quite sharp but well-balanced with the plain vegetal selection, and although the combination is not astounding, the process and atmosphere are quite stirring.
With a decadent dessert platter of pomegranate molasses cake, flourless mocha cake, single-varietal chocolate and Baileys truffles, as well as a wide assortment of luxurious baked goods and fruits, you can’t imagine a more tempting display. However, the main attraction is the Bailey’s Chocolat Luxe beverage made with real Belgian chocolate. Chilled, with a raspberry for added flavour, the creations is rich and smooth, with the authenticity of the cocoa lingering in the aftertaste – a treat that must be sampled to be truly appreciated.
For further information about Bar Chocolat or to book visit here.