The Rabbit Hole, Durham
REVIEW: Mark Burns Cassell
Ladies and gentlemen, there are very few places on earth I would rather while away a few hours of my time than in sensational restaurants and cocktail bars. So, when I heard about the latest secret dining experience to open its lavish doors, my interest was piqued.
The Rabbit Hole sits unassumingly behind an antiques and curios shop on Hallgarth Street in Durham and you enter, speakeasy style, through a non-descript door. The interior of the place is rather fabulous, deep, decadent colours, ornate chandeliers, richly upholstered seating, and dim lighting (forget trying to get a selfie unless you have an exceptional flash mode) combine to deliver an opulent and quirky foodie bolt hole.
The place is inspired by 1920s Shanghai Supper clubs, could there be anywhere more fitting for a rakish gent with a taste for the finer things to imbibe a French Martini then sit down to a dish of lobster in rich Thai sauce? I think not. In our true dedication to leaving no stone unturned, Donna, the evening’s partner in decadence, and I fully upheld our sacred duty of trying out an expansive range of the glorious menu’s highlights. We began with cocktails, rhubarb gin and ginger beer, before sitting down to a delicious dish of hors d’oeuvres, the thickest prawn toast I’ve ever tasted, crispy ribs, satay chicken and spring rolls, with prawn crackers.
The menu is as eclectic as the interior (the loos are first left past the giraffe, by the way), so choosing mains was as great a challenge as the starters. The menu encompasses oriental classics, succulent meats and wood fired fish. I opted for whole lobster, fresh from the in-house tank. Donna opted for spicy chilli beef and yung cheow fried rice, and I sat and licked my lips awaiting the arrival of my pink poached friend, lathered in rich, fragrant, thick and spicy Thai sauce. The piece de resistance was serving it alongside crinkle cut chips, genius! Both dishes were cooked to perfection. Dessert took the form of mango cheesecake for Donna, and my personal favourite, sticky toffee pudding. You can take the boy out of the North East, and all that.
Everything was a triumph, and the Rabbit Hole is a welcome creative addition to the increasingly diverse array of eating experiences Durham has on offer. Go, and for goodness sake, rise to the occasion and put on your best shirt and boater, won’t you?