Posted on Thursday, 2nd July 2015
The Rabbit in Chelsea is the second venture by the Gladwin brothers who brought us The Shed in Notting Hill. I adored the food at The Shed, the fabulous restaurant founded on fresh, foraged and farm-reared sustainable principles by the brothers Richard, Oliver and Gregory, and Rabbit is no different. Richard went into hospitality, Oliver is a chef and Gregory is a farmer; and the three have therefore managed to form a perfect triangle of what it takes to produce a winning restaurant.
The interior at Rabbit also has a touch of country to it and is wonderfully rustic with reclaimed British furniture being a key feature at the restaurant. As with its sister restaurant The Shed, The Rabbit is supplied with reared livestock and wines from the family farm and vineyard in Sussex which is run by Farmer Gregory. Known as Nutbourne, references are often made to ingredients from Nutbourne in the menu. Other seasonal produce come from local Sussex suppliers.
Head Chef Oliver Gladwin previously trained at Oxo Tower, Launceston Place, Just St James and with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall at River Cottage. His passion for foraging and seasonality is evident in his daily changing menu, which is divided into distinct sections: mouthfuls, slow cooking and fast cooking. The menu is designed for sharing with Rabbit recommending about 4-5 plates for two to share.
We began our meal with one of the ‘mouthfuls’, a squid ink cracker filled with sea bass roe and dill (£1.50) that was really tasty. The cracker was crunchy, the squid ink flavour in the cracker was delicately poised, the mellow saltiness of the filling worked well with the cracker and the dill added great fragrance.
Scallop with Nutbourne tomato (£6) was a sensational dish. The scallop was delicious, perfectly cooked and succulent, and was made even tastier by the wonders of a generous topping of melted dulse butter. Dulse butter contains a touch of seaweed that added an umami dimension to the scallop. Amazing!
Asparagus with truffle, egg confit, linseed and daisy scape sang (£8) with freshness and was pleasantly summery. The asparagus had a good bite to it and the creaminess of the egg confit provided a great pairing for the asaparagus. But while all the cooked elements of the dish were nicely done, on the whole this plate of food was a bit boring.
Smoked Montgomery ravioli with tarragon, leek buds and girolles (£10) was satisfying and warming. The ravioli was well made and oozed with a creamy cheesy goodness. The girolles were delicious and the leek buds added another dimension to the pasta.
Wood pigeon with rainbow cauliflower (£9) was pleasant but the pigeon was every so slightly overcooked and hence not as moist as it should have been, nor was it as gamey as is my preference. The cauliflower, prepared as a puree and as slivers were really tasty.
The lamb in a dish of Nutbourne lamb with Jersey royal gnocchi, peas and dill (£13) was tender, but again was not particularly gamey and therefore not that punchy in flavour. The lamb was perhaps the weakest element in this dish which was otherwise wonderful. The gnocchi was rustic and hearty and had been fried for a delicious crispy coating. The use of dill was a choice addition as it provided bursts of liveliness to the dish. But it was the peas that were the most delicious element of the dish with their farm-fresh crunchiness and flavour.
To the desserts, and The Shed magnum vienetta parfait (£6) was delightfully good with layers of a fabulously creamy vanilla ice cream, shavings of chocolate and caramel sauce. A second dessert of cherry and white chocolate mousse (£6) with peanut caramel was beautifully presented but was a little bland.
The food at The Rabbit was as delicious as that at The Shed, and yet again the inspired freshness and seasonality of the produce made for a lovely dining experience. We were showered with friendly service during our meal. But we also went during Saturday lunch when it wasn’t particularly busy so it would be interesting to see whether the restaurant’s standard of service holds up as well when the restaurant is full.
1) The scallop dish was outstanding.
1) The asparagus and white chocolate mousse weren’t bad, but out of everything we tried, these were the least interesting.
Food rating: 4/5
Service rating: 3.75/5
Prices: About £30 to £45 a head.