The melting point for chocolate is around 86-90 degrees Fahrenheit, so below body temperature, which means chocolate literally melts in the mouth. The beloved treat is also considered an aphrodisiac—a way for romantics to invoke Aphrodite and hopefully find love by sharing something yummy.
Add some low lighting, trendy chocolate and cream-colored décor, a splash of bourbon, and The Conche is Leesburg's new chocolate-themed wingman.
"I want this to be a place where everyone can gather and enjoy a meal, beautiful chocolates, cooking classes, cocktails and everything in between. We want to welcome all ages, families, friends, couples, guests looking to celebrate all sorts of occasions and milestones, date nights " " the restaurant's owner, celebrity chef and Food Network regular Santosh Tiptur said.
Located in the Village at Leesburg, The Conche seats 72 people, with 12 at the bar and the remaining 64 seats at charming banquettes and tables in the main dining room. When patrons walk in they immediately see the conche, a machine invented by Rodolphe Lindt - as in Lindt chocolate - in 1879 to agitate a chocolate mixture and properly distribute the cocoa butter within the chocolate. The prolonged churning and stirring technique done by this machine became known as "conching," and ensures quality and consistency in chocolate.
At the center of the hot new restaurant is the "Chocolate Lab," two big windows like the glass at an aquarium where diners can look in and watch as Tiptur and his team assemble assorted chocolatey confections.
Chocolate is the theme, but the meals are savory and recognizable. When Tiptur planned the menu with the help of sous chef Jeff Collins, he wanted to create sophisticated flavor profiles in most of the dishes, desserts and craft cocktails with different uses of chocolate and cocoa.
For example, the restaurant's signature drink is The Conche Old Fashioned. It smells and tastes like an Old Fashioned, but with a smidge of chocolate bitters and topped with dark chocolate shavings. The "conchecoction" is a no-brainer - chocolate and orange go lovely together, and both go with bourbon. The chef's complimentary shot of hot cocoa is a nice little chaser, too.
As for the menu, there are mouthwatering appetizers like calamari battered with chocolate stout beer batter, and roasted heirloom beets served with goat cheese and a chocolate passion fruit vinaigrette. The tapioca tater tots with chocolate dates and tamarind glaze are also popular.
The entrée menu includes things like cocoa nib crusted sea scallops, cocoa rubbed New York strip steak, and an avocado flatbread that keeps the loaded avocado toast trend alive and well, only this time on house-made flatbread and served with tempura fried avocado wedges. The rich risotto is topped with asparagus and a chocolate dipped pancetta chip (chocolate covered bacon!).
Of course one must leave room for dessert, because this is a chocolate themed restaurant, and the desserts are such a treat. The dessert menu includes different flavors of gelato and sorbet, and the signature desserts are assembled with different cakes, pastries, mousses, creams and cookies. And diners can watch their desserts being plated through the windows of the "Chocolate Lab."
Chocolate education is also going to be an important element at The Conche. Chef Tiptur and his team plan to launch a variety of interactive chocolate-making classes for kids and adults and for birthday parties, anniversaries and corporate team-building events. The Conche also plans to offer wine, beer, champagne, and chocolate tasting events.
The Conche is located at 1605 Village Market Blvd., Suite 108. The Conche's hours are currently 4-9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and 4-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Lunch, happy hour and brunch hours will be announced soon.
|The interior at The Conche. Courtesy Photo|