Said to be named after the crisp white walls and the speediness of the revamp (like a rabbit out of a magician’s hat), The White Rabbit sits on the corner of Customs and Gore St downtown – and the space, previously occupied by the Britomart Hotel, Rose & Crown, and The Brewery, has never looked better.
The clean paint job and simple fit-out is jazzed up with several interesting lighting and design choices – gooseneck floor lamps mixed with Parisian street lights, tabletop cacti in mason jars, a collection of pastel treasures on a bookshelf. It’s got that ‘soft industrial’ look favoured by owner Mark Keddell, who also runs Libertine and Wellington’s legendary Matterhorn.
Group executive chef Sean Marshall has crafted an all-day menu offering up breakfast, lunch and dinner (served in a separate dining room upstairs) with a well-stocked grazing menu for drinks or those awkward in-between times.
The easy bistro-style food’s by ex-Clooney head chef Ian Harrison, yet incorporates the techniques and tastes of fine dining: French fries come with pickled shiitake mushrooms and tartare, sardines on toast are topped with crumbled feta and broad bean, a simple summer salad with baby beets and squash is served with a golfball of perfectly fresh burrata cheese (think buffalo mozzarella, but creamier).
The latter dish was the highlight of our Monday night stop, where we also tucked into a delicious duck burger and one of the best and most inventive desserts I’ve had in a while – Szechuan pineapple with marshmallows, fresh mango and coconut yoghurt. Even at 7pm, the place was packed with a great mix of after-work suits and happy families, and the service was efficient and warm.
With food that really stands out - even in a precinct brimming with Auckland’s best, The White Rabbit’s a must-try. Perfect for anything from a first date to a wine-soaked catch up with the girls.