Appropriately for a bar named after a mysterious entrance to a magical land, The Rabbit Hole is tucked behind an enticing yellow door, hidden away down one of North Oxford’s more unassuming and picturesque streets, and appeared as if by magic. Okay, maybe it wasn’t magical, but if there was any big fanfare about this little independent neighbourhood bar’s opening then it completely passed me by, as apparently it opened last summer and I didn’t know that it existed until last week.
The Rabbit Hole is a bar with a carefully-curated selection of food; it’s not a restaurant, but there’s definitely more than bar snacks on offer. Basically, I looked on the website and saw they had cocktails, cheese and desserts, and since I’d had the kind of week that left me completely uninterested in a square meal with, you know, complex carbohydrates and green things, this was exactly what I was looking for.
I got going on the Negronis (£8.50) while my drinking companion Sam plumped for a Moscow Mule (£9) and we both repeated our order several times. You know, to check they were still good. They were: classics done right. Then, because we’re sensible grown-ups, we decided to augment the cocktails by adding a balanced dinner of rosemary-seasoned nuts (£3), the Oxford Rarebit (£5.50) and an entire cheeseboard (£15).
The service, although slightly disorganised (one of the two members of staff told us it was only her third day, so fair enough!) was very friendly, sweet and attentive. When we decided to go the whole hog and order desserts, we were told very apologetically that they didn’t have the advertised ice cream to go with the orange and almond cake (£6) and toasted banana bread (£5.50) and that they’d be happy to reduce the bill, but we were content to go with the offered substitutes of raspberry coulis and caramel sauce. I am fairly picky about cake – comes from a lifetime’s worth of cake-consuming experience – and I could find nothing to fault here.
All in all, we had a very delightful evening at The Rabbit Hole. A big plus for me was that it was the perfect place to actually catch up with (read: moan about my life to) my lovely friend: the bar is small, tucked away and quiet, so we could actually hear each other speak and happily sat at our table all night without feeling crowded or like we had to give up our spot for hordes of people at the bar.
Along with the bar food, The Rabbit Hole also offers a couple of rotating main meal dishes which, although we didn’t try them because we got distracted by cheese, looked very tasty making their way past us to other tables. They have fairly short but carefully chosen wine and beer lists too, which we didn’t really get to as we sunk ourselves into cocktails fairly early. In summary, there are plenty of reasons for me to go back and try out some of their other offerings, and I’m sure I’ll do so in the not-so-distant future…
After all, we all need something cheering to get us through January, right?