I have many fond memories of the West Village. There was that time I got tossed from a bar on Halloween, the time I saw a stray cat sit on a bum's head, and now I can add to that list, "the time I fell down the rabbit hole."
You might think I'm alluding to using LSD or some other psychoactive drug, but of course, I'm talking about food. I guess some would say that food is my drug – and if food is my drug, then Rabbit in the Moon was my dealer.
Somewhat tucked away on West 8th street stands Rabbit in the Moon – with it's stone facade, sprawling fake ivy and lack of signage, it's easy to miss yet stands out at the same time. I waited for Ange (my best friend from college) to show up, and when we walked in, she goes, "well, I think we fell down the rabbit hole." The inside is a little strange, not necessarily in a bad way, but I might use the word "trippy" to describe it. One red wall with a collage of odd pictures, one exposed brick wall with a fireplace and oversized armchairs, a white bar with grommeted black leather stools, taxidermy, and antique candelabras. Hmmm. Yes. Trippy indeed. The menu was slightly less complex, but then again maybe I was just getting a contact high from all the wood polish.
Rabbit in the Moon has a cocktail lounge on the second floor, and supposedly has amazing cocktails, so we decided to try a few. When in Rome. I had the 8th Street Smash (operative word being "smash"), which is Maker's Mark bourbon, lemon juice, house-brandied cherries, simple syrup and whiskey bitters. I don't know how great of a summer drink it is, because it had a warm, smoky taste, but it was really good otherwise. I might have had a couple just to check for consistency purposes…all in the name of research of course. Ange had the Manor Fizz and the Lunar Stardust. She is a gin drinker, so both of these are gin-based, but very different. The Manor Fizz is made with Citadelle Cask gin, lemon juice, pears, and egg whites (hooray for protein). If you're picturing a Rocky Balboa situation, it's not like that; much like a fish ceviche, the acid from the lemon juice "cooks" the egg whites so it's safe to drink. It was very light and frothy, a nice summer drink for sure. The Lunar Stardust is Plymouth gin, lemon juice, Cherry Herring, orange bitters and simple syrup with a rose petal floating on top. It was a little too sweet for her, and I'd have to agree with that.
Normally, I am not a fan of cold soup, but there was a chilled sweet pea and zucchini soup with pancetta that jumped out at us, so we decided to be brave and try it. Who needs more heat anyway when it's 97 degrees outside? Cold soup might be surprisingly refreshing. And we also ordered the ricotta gnocchi starter because…gnocchi is awesome. I really am a little torn between the two, because they were both delicious. I like cold soup now…who knew? It was bright green, velvety, kind of sweet, with a strip of pancetta floating on top and a few pieces of chopped shrimp. Only thing I wished was that the pancetta be chopped too. I understand for presentation purposes the circular strip looks nicer, but trying to cut a thick piece of bacon in a bowl filled with creamy soup is kind of difficult. The ricotta gnocchi, on the other hand was perfect. Ange, my token Italian friend, backed me up on that. She said it had the perfect texture, and I thought the pesto sauce with pine nuts and sundried tomatoes was amazing. It had this sweet taste that I couldn't put my finger on; it was either the toasted pine nuts or maybe a dash of nutmeg. Either way – holy crap.
Considering Rabbit in the Moon is supposed to be a gastropub, we wanted to stick with the "Pub Classics" on the menu. Don't get me wrong, the other entrees sounded good too, but why get the "roasted colorado rack of lamb" when you can have Bangers n Mash? Or Fish n Chips? Good old pub food. Actually, I just like saying bangers n mash. The "bangers", if you will, were three rather large sausages, and the "mash" were mashed potatoes with parmesan shavings and chives on top. The sausage was incredibly tasty, but very filling with the potatoes and all. After the appetizers we had and the drinks, I could only finish one.
The "fish" consisted of lightly fried cod, octopus, and anchovies, while the "chips" were homemade french fries sprinkled with parmesan cheese, cracked salt and parsley. Mmmm the fries. I digress. Here's what I have deducted from this experience: Fish n chips - good, not great, but BAD if you're on a date. Wow, I didn't even mean for that to rhyme. I'm amazing. If you don't get what I mean..eat a couple of fried anchovies and go breathe on some flowers. Watch them wilt right before your eyes. The cod was also a little too soft for my taste..I think the fish could have been a little crispier.
Finally we have reached the conclusion of this meal with banana profiteroles, whipped cream and espresso. Little pockets of puff pastry filled with banana cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce…it was like a tiny orgasm on a plate. I guess I say that a lot about the combo of bananas and chocolate though. I also just remembered that Rabbit in the Moon is from an old saying that if you look up to the moon and see the shape of a rabbit, it means you're in love. Well I am in love…with ricotta gnocchi and banana profiteroles. We make a lovely couple. Or triple.