Descend into the Rabbit Hole Bar & Dining and you’ll find yourself in a wonderland of unique cocktails with molecular creativity.
Rabbit Hole Bar & Dining
The basement-level bar and eatery in Sydney’s Elizabeth Street occupies the site of what was previously Bar Europa, and the transformation sees an inviting modern space with quirky rabbit caricatures, a main bar and two dining areas separated by another bar.
Opened in late September 2012, owners Doug Laming and Georgie Dodds have set to create a CBD venue with a difference. The bar is one of two in Australia, and one of twelve in the world, to use Cointreau Caviar Spherification Kits courtesy of Suntory.
Extensive research, experimentation and a passionate dedication to the craft are evident in the cocktails which are divided into shots and listed under the base spirit.
From the shots menu comes the Jellied G&T ($11) which plays on the Hendrick’s cucumber and rose theme. Cubes of Hendrick’s gin and tonic are presented on top of a slice of telegraph cucumber with a dehydrated rose petal held in place by a drop of rose water. The jelly has a light sprinkling of a sherbet-like powder. Pick up the wobbly cube and pop it in your mouth. It melts into liquid and tastes just like a Hendrick’s gin and tonic with an alcoholic fizz on the tongue.
Doug Laming, Co-owner and Molecular Bartender
Treat yourself to a unique margarita that is Doug’s invention. As you watch him prepare it, explaining the process, you’ll wish you had paid more attention in chemistry class. But then, your teacher was never that interesting or that easy on the eyes.
Viscous liquid from two syringes containing different mixtures is dropped from a height into a calcium bath. The liquid turns into perfect spheres of Souza Gold tequila with simple syrup and Cointreau caviar.
Doug Laming’s Margarita ($12) is presented in a coupe glass filled with ice for decorative purposes. Half a lime with a salted rim sits on top of the ice. The drained spheres are piled on the surface and crowned with finger lime. Pick up citrus with your fingers and tip the spheres in your mouth, licking the surface of the lime. Pop them one by one for a margarita party in your mouth.
Jellied G&T and Doug Laming’s Margarita
Moving away from the shots menu, the Breakfast Bouquet ($18) is take on the martini, made with Larios gin and Joseph Cartron double crème de cassis shaken with house-made rose and strawberry jam and lemon then finished with a dash of rhubarb bitters. It may be a pink-coloured cocktail but the alcohol kick is strong. You get a lovely aroma of rosewater as you sip it and the floral elements are well balanced with the addition of lemon juice.
L-R: Breakfast Bouquet, Kraken’s Prey
Kraken’s Prey ($17) is a sweet and smooth drink and one set to please rum lovers. The inside of a martini glass pained with a squid ink mixture before the glass is filled with Kraken rum stirred down with Licor 43, Fee Brothers and walnut bitters, lime and demerara syrup. As you drink it, the squid ink reacts with the liquid, darkens in colour and intensifies in flavour.
If you like a peated whisky, the Smoked Apple ($19) is not to be missed. Laphroaig whisky and Joseph Cartron pomme verte are shaken with house-made Ceylon tea infused cinnamon syrup, with a dash of Fee Brother’s rhubarb bitters and cloudy apple juice. Fresh cider provides a little carbonation and the smoked salt adds a measure of smoke to a cocktail that has a long, lingering finish.
White Cloud above Mt Gay
Sitting at the bar has the advantage of watching other cocktails being prepared such as the White Cloud above Mt Gay ($18) and the New + Old School Sparkling Cocktail ($18).
New + Old School Sparkling Cocktail
If you’re not the adventurous type when it comes to cocktails or if you prefer to try a few drinks from the menu, the Texture Taster ($22) is a good choice and consists of a sampler that showcases some of the techniques and textures used at the Rabbit Hole bar.
Start on the left with what is essentially a caprioska foam. Eat it with the spoon and nibble on the sugar crystallised mint leaf for the complete gamut of flavours unravel with the mint intensifying the flavour. Next is the “lava lamp” with spheres of Cointreau in sparkling wine that rise to the surface as you sip. Pop them in the mouth for an explosion of Cointreau flavour that mingles with the fizz of the wine. Finish with a citrus overload with the alcoholic lemon jelly made from an array of citrus flavours which makes a good palate cleanser.
The dining menu at Rabbit Hole Bar & Dining continues the theme of the cocktails. Chef Tomoyuki Usui, formerly of L’Astrance in France and Wagu in Crows Nest, has created an inventive menu that plays on textures and flavours. Unlike what has become a too common a trend in Sydney, you won’t find share plates but modern and creative dishes with a French influence. Entrees and desserts are priced below $20 with main around $30.
Tiede wagyu tartare, onsen egg and truffle meringue.
The Tiede wagyu tartare, onsen egg and truffle meringue ($17) is a sublime dish served with a runny yolk. The tartare is well seasoned and the light and airy truffle meringue adds a touch of decadence albeit crumbling too easily.
Seared scallops, celeriac two ways and buckwheat
The seared scallops, celeriac two ways and buckwheat ($18) is a textural dish with the smoothness of the scallop contrasting with the crunch of the buckwheat. The scallops are plump and flavoursome and come served with pieces of delicious chargrilled baby corn.
Blue eye cod, white miso sabayon, white asparagus and pea powder
The blue eye cod with a white miso sabayon, white asparagus and pea powder ($30) is perfectly cooked. The fish is flaky and flavoursome with contrasting textures and flavours coming together in harmony on the plate.
Roasted Kurobuta pork loin, bean family, lemon puree and scratchings
The Roasted Kurobuta pork loin, bean family, lemon puree and scratchings ($26) is equally impressive with tender, moist and subtly-flavoured pork with a hint of citrus.
Strawberry mousse, compote, pink pepper and pistachio
Take the guess work out of dessert and chose the mysterious strawberry mousse, compote, pink pepper and pistachio ($15) is a generous serve that can be shared among two persons. A disc of crisp wafer topped with pistachio and pink pepper hides the lightest strawberry mousse mixed with a strawberry compote. The pepper cuts through the sweetness of the fruit with the wafer, a marriage of contrasting textures and flavours on a plate.
To finish, don’t skip the adults only version of the Babycino ($12) with a house made coffee liqueur topped with and Amaretto foam and served with an almond biscuit.
Rabbit Hole Bar & Dining succeeds in providing a point of difference to Sydney’s cocktail and dining scene. The friendly venue offers a balance between food and cocktails, where invention, textural elements and flavour take centre stage. The cocktails are borne out of passion and dedication to provide an experience that makes a lasting impression. The dishes surprise and impress, and the welcoming vibe and relaxed setting make it a popular choice with groups of women, the after-work crowd and couples on a date.
Rabbit Hole Bar is featured in Sydney’s Best Winter Bars.
Rabbit Hole Bar and Dining
Basement level, 82 Elizabeth Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 02 8084 2505
Open Monday to Friday 12-3pm, 6-9pm, Saturday 6-9pm
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