Roast + Conch is a concept bar and restaurant from chocolatiers Hotel Chocolat and it’s attached to their shop on Albion Street. Can a bar themed around one specific ingredient really work? Surprisingly, it can.
The sign outside says “It’s all about the cocoa”, and it really is! The restaurant upstairs demonstrates that cacao/cocoa can be used in just about any dish and their drinks menu is not too different. There are about a billion kinds of hot chocolate, as well as “whole bean cacao drinks” (which are made in the same way as coffee but with cacao beans instead of coffee beans) and many cocktails with chocolate or cacao ingredients. There’s also a big rum menu, I guess because of rum truffles?
So what about their beer menu? It’s very short (5 beers) but there’s something for everyone, including 2 Barbadian beers, Kernel’s excellent Table Beer and their house beer, called simply “Cocoa Beer”, which is a surprisingly nice porter made with the shells of cacao beans.
The atmosphere is OK — they’ve gone for a kind of stereotypical Central American vibe and you can’t escape the fact that this is clearly a wealthy chain, but it’s relaxed and pleasant enough and the staff are very nice.
I definitely had some preconceptions about this gimmick but I left thinking I might be back, especially if I’m looking for somewhere to take a chocolate-loving visitor to Leeds.