White Rabbit, Dalston
It’s an uninspiring walk down Kingsland High Street that leads you to this little shack of gastronomic heaven. There are numerous food credentials for which to love White Rabbit, which I’ll be sure to get to. But on a surface level, it’s so great walking into another industrial chic dining room where you’re not oppressed by the modish trimmings. Had I not pointedly cast the critic’s eye over the interiors, I wouldn’t have remembered a single facet, except the feeling of being deeply at ease, watching the vacant street through a glass façade and waiting for my date to arrive.
The lack of frills, even when it comes to the menu, means that you relax in less than 5 minutes – a triumph considering you are sitting opposite each other, across a white tablecloth, interview style. With a £35 taster menu, the prices won’t threaten the deep calm that presides, nor will the portion sizes (they’re smallish). Were it not for the nearby post-production crew living it up in mis-matched glory, I’d say this was a dulcet initiation into hipster life.
Make life easy and order the taster menu. Cocktails are OK but this is more of a wine by the reasonable bottle kinda place. Kicking things off with tall pork scratchings and fluffy fresh bread, we moved from an incredible mullet ceviche to gin and beetroot cured salmon, working our way up to a divine duck breast via the creamy stretched curd cheese with squash and pumpkin seeds. F*ck me, this food is terrific.
Ain’t nothing romantic about walking hand in hand from Dalston Junction so meet in the restaurant. Whoever gets there first, face the window and gaze out – it’s a far more serene way to wait than playing with your phone. You’ll be working through the courses for a couple of hours so don’t use your best stories/gags too soon. A nice rule of thumb here is to move from food chat (I’m excited about course x) to serious catch ups (what are you up to atm?) to humorous anecdotes, resting on euphoric silliness as the dessert course arrives. Play pat a belly, tease them about theirs, suggest you sub the pudding with scotch, you cheeky bugger. You’ll leave and decide to grab a post meal drink but walking down the road to look for it will kill the mood. Activate your cab app and take it to Casa Negra in Shoreditch, where you can bathe in darkness, polish off a margarita and make out like kids.
The cocktails aren’t the best I’ve had but with food like this you don’t need such a precursor.
5. Maybe not that night, but within 10 days. It’s bonding, man.