There’s something about knowing exactly where your food has come from that makes it somehow taste even better. We recently attended the wedding of one of my very good school friends to Oliver Gladwin, the chef at The Shed in Notting Hill, Rabbit on the King’s Road and Nutbourne in Battersea. The wedding was in fact held at the Gladwin family farm in West Sussex and of course the food was excellent! Having been desperate to try Rabbit, after thoroughly enjoying The Shed several years back, tasting the farm’s produce at this wedding made this desire even stronger, so we finally managed to get there on a recent trip to London.
Much like The Shed, the décor at Rabbit is very rustic – lots of wood, corrugated iron, tractor parts, taxidermy and the like – to help set the scene.
The menu is divided into ‘mouthfuls’, ‘Nutbourne cures’, ‘slow-cooking’ and ‘fast-cooking’, all designed for sharing, just as a meal should be! We were advised to order two or three of the larger dishes per person.
I have a very soft spot for cheese scones. Every time one of us kids returned to our family home, my parents would put in an advance order with the village shop for some locally-made cheese scones and buy out all their stock. I think we must have been the only ones doing this, and only a few times a year, so sadly they discontinued them. We therefore couldn’t resist trying the cheddar and rosemary scones from the ‘mouthfuls’ section of the menu. These were perfectly light, beautifully cheesy and served with a dollop of creamy goat’s cheese mousse.
The Nutborne-cured chorizo was absolutely fantastic. The salty, crumbly chorizo paired excellently with the light and creamy labneh and even my husband, who despises kale, agreed that the crispy fried kale nicely balanced out the flavours. Make sure you get a bit of everything on a piece of crispbread.
Speaking of bread, the 1,931-day-old starter wild yeast bread, still warm from the oven and served with malted barley butter was amazing – try and save some to dip in all the dishes, if you can!
One of my favourite dishes was the pan-fried goat’s cheese, topped with honeyed almonds and thyme. The sticky, crunchy almonds were a beautiful contrast to the creamy cheese, which carried a mild yet lovely flavour. For cheese lovers like me, this was a dream.
The grilled harissa aubergine tasted divine, topped with cinnamon dukkah and garden herbs, served with a smear of amazing sunflower seed butter (I had never even thought of using seeds instead of nuts for butter). My only comment is that the aubergine could have been cooked a touch longer to give it a softer texture.
Another favourite was the bone marrow ravioli. These little pockets of perfectly al dente pasta were filled with rich, buttery bone marrow and drizzled in sherry burnt butter. Four pieces – two each – was enough to savour this lovely dish, without it being too heavy and rich.
Last of the savouries we tried was the Sussex beef sirloin with chestnut mushrooms, charred onions and red wine jus. The tender beef was cooked to a perfect medium rare and I adored the minced mushrooms that reminded me of the mushroom Duxelles that goes in a beef wellington.
One of the main highlights of the food at the Gladwin wedding were the chunks of honeycomb that came with dessert. At Rabbit, the crunchy honeycomb is dipped in dark chocolate and served with mascarpone and tarragon sugar to create one truly magical dessert.
We were also sent over a platter of ‘sweet mouthfuls’, which included a wild plum Jammy Dodger, a toffee crab apple, a cardamom cream and baked white chocolate profiterole and a slab of salted caramel, each of which was unique and delicious, making us both somewhat reluctant to share them!
For far more food than was necessary (particularly at lunchtime!), our bill for two, including cider and coffee came to GBP80 (around HKD800). That’s certainly not a cheap lunch by London standards, but a meal this good, with excellent service and fresh, organic produce would cost a whole lot more than that in Hong Kong! I was even more impressed by Rabbit than I was by The Shed and, although we rolled out of the restaurant, one meal there has left me with a craving to go back again…and again!
172 King’s Road
London SW3 4UP
Tel: +44 (0) 20 375 00172