REVIEWS, October 31, 2014
Overall Value
out of 5
  • Food
  • Service
  • Ambience
Rabbit, 172 King’s Rd, London, SW3 4UP

In a prime Chelsea location, a welcoming English bistro, serving tasty small plates in an setting of some rusticity; it looks set to become a popular standby, though prices for full meals can escalate.

It was a little way into our lunch at Rabbit that it struck us what’s so odd about it. Here we were, waiting for lunch, with a good (if oblique) view of one of the prime stretches of the King’s Road (between Waterstone’s and Waitrose).

In a decent restaurant.

It’s quite disorientating. Any fool knows you do not find acceptable restaurants on the King’s Road. Off the King’s Road, perhaps. On the Fulham Road, fine, or even the Old Brompton Road. But something about the socio-economics of SW3 has meant that the King’s Road has never, within living memory, sustained a restaurant beyond the purely functional and some of those have been driven out by the mobile phone shops.

So who are these brave – perhaps foolish – restaurateurs? Step forward the Shed people. (The Shed, if you don’t know, is the place that took over the site of The Ark – a Kensington bistro in business since time immemorial – a couple of years ago.) Imagine a Jack Wills shop as a restaurant, and you won’t be far off.

The formula here is essentially as seen in Kensington. There is the same home-made-rustic feel – here feeling a bit more calculated, but just as noisy. The welcoming staff/young proprietors are all jeans and check shirts… but no Converse – this is Chelsea, after all.

The food – seasonal and local, in the sense that much of it comes from the proprietors’ Sussex farm – is very much in the same vein as in Kensington, if perhaps a bit fancier. It comes in small (to medium) plates that are attractive to the eye, and never less than tasty, if not always, at the higher levels, offering the degree of complexity you might hope for at the prices.

For a first visit, then, we’d possibly suggest this place more for an early (or late) shopping lunch than a full-blown affair, as the total bill can escalate to a level which might feel a bit disproportionate. Stop by, though, for perhaps a (very satisfying) ‘mouthful’ of Brown Crab Bomb, and a couple of venison ‘stogies’ (think spring rolls), washed down with a glass of Sussex wine (truly ‘de la maison’), and a most satisfactory visit is in prospect.

If you do decide to visit at prime time, though, we suspect you’ll already need to book.

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