Restaurant review: White Rabbit
15-16 Bradbury Street
It was the kind of menu where after five minutes of trying to make a decision I looked up and said ‘but I want it all’. The good news was that there was a chefs menu, the great news – it included the aubergine. Those who know me well know that my taste for aubergine is but a skim away from obsessive. Where there is aubergine to be found I will follow.
We arrived early and were the first in for dinner. White Rabbit instantly feels like home, the tables and chairs are comfortably unpretentious, each set with its own a jam jar of fresh flowers. In the background we could hear the chefs sizzling up parsnip crisps and nattering away from the open kitchen. Freddie indulged in the craft beer menu whilst I nibbled on giant Nocellara del Bellice olives. These remind me of Sicily and are one of my favourite – already the evening was off to a good start.
First came the mushrooms and ceviche. The format at White Rabbit is sharing plates, quite the fashion for restaurants at the moment. It’s one I do enjoy, as long as one is with diplomatic friends and as long as there is enough to go round which in this case there certainly was. We were greeted with an array of mushroom personalities ranging from meaty porccinis and buttery chanterelles to humble but delicious creminis. Penny shapes of rich mushroom puree dotted the plate and a few twindly parsnip crisps practically floated on top. I am usually not one for foams and fuss. I call it ‘frilly’ food but the dish was anything but frilly. Every element held its place with a firm foot, and the kick to your taste buds was quite something. The ceviche was light and zingy, adorned with grapefruit segments, avocado puree and pomegranate seeds – a welcome palate cleanser after the mushroom extravaganza.
At this point I was already making Freddie ‘promise me that we could come back!’, the mushrooms really were that good. I didn’t stop until the next three dishes arrived; a broccoli and shrimp dish in a shallow bath of herby lemon butter, rich and sticky pork belly with green salsa (all for Freddie) and a thick disks of marinated aubergine that sat atop smoked yogurt and crushed nuts (all mine). The aubergine passed the bar. In fact it passed with flying colours, at one point Freddie actually asked me if I was going to lick the plate. The thing is, I probably would have had three other young couples not now walked in.
By quarter past eight the room started to buzz with chatter, more shuffling of feet and sizzling from the kitchen. But the service remained impeccable with our lovely waitress checking in just once or twice. It was then time for sea bass; a whole fish, cooked on the bone, skin crispy and just how I like it. Quarters of charred fennel, small bunches of enoki mushrooms and a slather of buttery cauliflower puree were the perfect team players and we savoured every mouthful already running through the whole meal again in our heads and telling each other ‘it really was ok that it was over because we were definitely coming back!’ We are in fact hoping to go back this weekend and this time I think I shall go in for pudding too. More to report then but to anyone looking for a meal that will wow without breaking the bank and without the need to change out of your trainers into ridiculous shoes GO!
White Rabbit is well priced, well humoured, well seasoned and well… quite fantastic.