Rabbit – Chelsea, London

‘A goats cheese shot of loveliness’ is how I would describe the beetroot crisp with goats cheese, quince and chick weed ‘mouthful’ at Rabbit, the seven-week old sister restaurant to The Shed in Notting Hill. The restaurants are run by three brothers who are all about bringing the food from farm to table. In their words, they “farm, forage and produce seasonal British food.” Whilst there were a few crossovers with the menu from The Shed (both do tiny ‘mouthfuls’ to amuse one’s bouche) the focus here is more on wild foods, such as rabbit, or partridge.

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It was very noisy and busy (9.45pm was the only available time slot and I’ve been told I was lucky to get that), and in the short while we were there we heard Happy Birthday sung three times, so this is obviously where the party is at, literally and metaphorically.

As expected the menu is designed for sharing, so after our mouthfuls we shared five dishes. First came hake with salsify, samphire, cider butter and wild fennel. This was excellent, although from a technical point of view I think more consideration could be given to how to distribute the sauce as it was one of the best bits but was somewhat abandoned in the sharing out process (in hindsight, perhaps I could have asked for a spoon…).

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Next came cauliflower with wet walnuts, ground elder and pickled rapeseeds and grilled leek with yoghurt, cobnuts, honey, dandelion and wood sorrel. The cauliflower was wonderful, especially as there were so many different colours of cauliflower. I couldn’t tell for certain what was what as I hadn’t heard of most of the ingredients, but there was something in the cauliflower dish akin to houmous that was a very good accompaniment. I wasn’t keen on the leek at first, the grey sauce (again I’m not entirely sure which ingredient) was quite overpowering, but it grew on me slightly.

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Lastly we had a Brussels sprout, hazelnut, cheddar and apple salad and venison with rainbow beetroot, spinach and oak moss. The salad was great and even seemed something that one could try at home with a food processor. The venison however was the winner for me. The meat and sauce were wonderful, the puréed spinach unbelievably tasty and again the multi-coloured vegetable (beetroot, hence the name rainbow) not only went well with the dish but added an element of aesthetic excitement to the dish.

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In such an interesting restaurant it is difficult to put curiosity to one side and leave without sampling dessert, especially when one of the two desserts on offer featured a vegetable, namely Jerusalem artichoke ice cream with chocolate crumb and grilled white chocolate. There was a real kick to the ice cream, and there was no doubt whatsoever that it was in fact made of artichoke. It went really well with the chocolate, but definitely a dish for sharing as after a few mouthfuls I was feeling its richness.

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We spent £35 each (no alcohol included) so it is fairly pricey but worth it for the tantalising tastes. The decor is also quite something!

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