Some days I don’t so much sit elegantly at the top of the rabbit hole as I do tumble down it T over A until my brains fall out. White Rabbit is full of dimly lit nooks in which to hide on those days, but instead of someone in a lab coat looking at me through a tiny window, a nice waitress came up and asked if I’d like a juice. “Yes please,” I said, crying. “Do you have any with holidays in them?”
I first dined in this building in 2002, when my then-fiance and I lived in the worst flat of all time just around the corner. It was a Mexican restaurant back then, and if I remember correctly it was either a great one or a truly bad one. I wouldn’t have known the difference anyway – Mexican came from an Old El Paso box, as far as I was concerned, and was just some variation on the ‘salsa, beans and wrapper’ theme. I’m much more sophisticated now. I hardly ever pronounce it like ‘tort-i-la’ anymore.
Now, I’m not one to buy into superstition or become hysterical (jokes, I totally am!), but, well, this building is doomed. Whilst Half Moon seems to have taken over every square foot of land on the other side of the tracks, number 118 is the secret elephant graveyard of half-decent restaurants. It’s been a pizza joint (the original wood fired oven remains), a clean and bitey Japanese place, an iridescent bar, an squat little Italian and a meandering ‘modern Australian’ in crisis.
White Rabbit has the potential to outlast each of these, and I hope that it does, because its menu is something quite special.
Someone had carefully considered the placement of each element on this plate (the chef, probably). I was initially surprised by the lack of “eat me” label, but then realised I was in Brighton and Brightoners are anything but twee, which is why I relate to them so well.
My toast did a merry dance along the line between sexily char-grilled and just burned. In the end I decided that it must have been the kind of burned that was in now, and I just wasn’t trendy enough to appreciate it and probably didn’t even deserve to eat it. The bread itself was delicious and the slices generous.
I (reasonably, I thought) assumed that the ‘potato’ in the breakfast menu sides list would be hashbrown-y. Instead, they were the kind you get with a really amazing lamb roast. At least twice cooked and covered in ground rock salt like the kind of tasty dandruff you’d never use Heads & Shoulders on because it’s so tasty. Crispy on the outside and basically a doona on the inside. I’m not convinced they are actually a breakfast food, but they were delicious nonetheless.
Honestly, I didn’t expect to get even this far and still have something to say about avocado. They’re either ripe, mooshy and delicious or they’re not. This one was thankfully the former.
My eggs were round and taut, which is the way I like most things. Cooked just so, they spilled out as though dolphins were guiding a little egg yolk boat back to shore and into my belly.
I had a sleep between then and now so I’ve largely forgotten, but I believe it was around $22. That is quite a lot, though it is ultimately deserving of the higher price tag.
It was dark in the rabbit hole. The torrential rain and unseasonably freezing weather in Melbourne probably didn’t help, but I found myself trying to take off my sunglasses over and over. Service was very friendly and helpful, but on the slow side.