Where do I start with dining at The Rabbit. For one, it’s definitely somewhere to go for a special occasion; something that bit more than ‘just’ going out for dinner. It’s an experience. The setting – sat above Manchester’s National Football Museum (the Urbis) – showcases the city’s stunning skyline through floor-to-ceiling glass windows, making it a perfect spot to admire, whatever time of day. With only a few tables within the space it feels intimate and exclusive, without imposing on anyone else. It’s got a grand but relaxed atmosphere which is reflected in the service and food; care and thought have been put into everything, every subtle detail but not too in your face. It’s got that perfect balance.
James and I celebrated an early Christmas date at The Rabbit not long after it opened its doors (I’d just recently found out I was pregnant so no champagne to enjoy by the window, gutted!), and I was struck by how incredible the food was – but each course was focused around meat or fish. So I was very excited to be invited to try the vegetarian menu, knowing how amazing the chefs were when it came to putting together elements in every dish and working creatively with ingredients.
My friend Chyaz and I were in for a treat on the Thursday night we booked in for dinner. With seven courses ahead of us, I’m glad I didn’t each much throughout the day because my gosh, it’s rich and filling – in a good way. I’m not going to talk through each dish as I feel this would ruin the surprise, but I’ll try and express just how blown away we were with the food.
Imagine looking at a menu, getting a brief description of the key elements and wondering how it would arrive – visually, and how it would taste – and being so wowed that you needed to know the secrets from the kitchen RIGHT NOW. Like, you NEED to make this again at home (but probably nowhere near as good as how it had been presented to you in a restaurant). That’s what it felt like as each plate was brought out: Surpassing expectation as you dig into what’s on the plate, savouring every mouthful and in awe of how the chefs have produced this masterpiece. This happened during every single course.
I want to highlight again that this was a vegetarian menu – and the dishes were all made gluten-free for me. Not once did Chyaz or I feel like anything was missing, that we’d been ‘shortchanged’ in any way simply because we had a particular dietary requirement, as it can feel like in some other restaurants. Rather than each dish just being a second thought – you know, risotto or nut roast – the fact that the chefs had really thought out every dish to make it sing for itself without the need for meat or fish should be commended.
It was a pleasure to meet and speak to Head Chef, John Granaghan, who mentioned that he’d had previously worked at a vegan and also raw restaurant, which is where his passion and skill has obviously been carried from. He said he loved the challenge of creating dishes that had fulfilment and satisfaction from plant-based ingredients, and plenty playing around with flavours, aromas, textures and ways of cooking food.
Both Chyaz and I agreed that this was one of the best meals we’d ever had and left feeling like we’d been dining at The Ritz; a proper treat, still buzzing about the gastronomic journey we’d been on, all the tastes still lingering. I couldn’t recommend it enough, alongside very accommodating and pleasant staff who were swift without being intrusive or too slow or rushed; there’s nothing worse than either as a diner! Hats off to a beautiful venue and some very talented chefs who know a thing or two about food.