7th September 2017
7th September 2017
One of the most recent additions to The Pantiles is Chocolatl; a mouth-watering venue for chocolate lovers and foodies. In this week’s guest blog from Sarah James – owner of Chocolatl – read of its eventful arrival at The Pantiles and its brand-new food offering.
As start-up businesses go, I think it is safe to say that Chocolatl has been especially challenging. After two years of searching for and setting up shop in the right location, planning application failures, successes, building work snags, sleepless nights, dreaming, implementing, testing, thinking and working tirelessly each day, Chocolatl finally came into being.
With our basement kitchen still being finished, we decided to open the doors upstairs, driven by complete impatience of wanting to open so we could start doing what we love! Our very first customer was a charming Australian lady who had been looking for somewhere to have a hot chocolate with her mother. Her mother’s sixth sense led them right to our door. An auspicious start, we thought. And, as a self-confessed chocolate addict, she has since become a regular, visiting us most days. We must be doing something right!
We had planned for a fairly quiet start to the business (a ‘soft opening’ as they say), as we wanted to make sure that we had time to get everything just right before the droves arrived. There was much curiosity, however, which brought in people unsure as to what this rather unusual new shop and cafe may be. Luckily, as soon as most people see chocolate on offer, it’s not too difficult to get them to walk through the doors!
With our menu planning in process, we concentrated on getting our hot chocolates perfect, testing and retesting temperatures and flavour combinations. Some delightful combos have come of that. Dark chocolate with chilli and orange, white chocolate with lemon and pink peppercorn, milk chocolate with lime and coconut milk – the options are practically endless! Feeling pleased with the feedback on our drinks, we excitedly prepared for our menu launch, telling customers it was only two weeks’ away.
Just as we had started to find our feet, the flood hit The Pantiles. We had to throw out half our stock and go through the boring procedures of insurance claims, sanitation work, booking decorators, listing lost stock and reordering things. But more upsettingly, we were unable to offer the food that we had been telling everyone about.
Despite this rocky start, we are happy to say that we have overcome these obstacles and will be offering our customers an exciting food menu imminently. We have received a great deal of support from our customers, who have said they’ll be coming to try everything very soon. From our own point of view, we can’t wait. As much as we love chocolate as a sweet ingredient, it is so much more exciting as something that can be used alongside savoury cooking.
Though the summer is now all but over, we will be offering some of our summer menu dishes during October. These include tomato bruschetta with goat’s cheese and dark chocolate shavings and our cocoa-roasted cauliflower tabbouleh.
But winter is coming and with it brings cocoa-spiced butternut squash soup, triple chocolate chilli (cocoa, dark chocolate and a chocolate stout go into making this rich and warming dish) and even dark chocolate aubergine caponata with fresh basil.
So many exciting opportunities are afforded by chocolate and my stomach is starting to rumble as I write! In the absence of savoury food, I will have to make do with cake and fresh chocolate truffles… it’s a hard life.
Be sure to head to Chocolatl in The Pantiles to see their scrumptious range of chocolates, drinks and enjoy their new food menu.