Food review: The Blue Rabbit, Kitchen Garden Cafe

There’s something cool about pop-up restaurants. One day they’re here, the next they’re gone in a puff of tea smoke. Happily, Birmingham’s latest, Blue Rabbit and Co, is calling the Kitchen Garden Cafe in Kings Heath home for at least the next six months or so, giving discerning diners on a budget plenty of chance to ‘pop’ along. The cook (rather charmingly he avoids the term ‘chef’ on his website) Dominic Simmonds has previously worked at Purnells Bistro so clearly he knows his onions, and the menu (delightfully free of fancy frou-frou language) changes weekly so there’s always something new to try.
Generally there’s a choice of three starters and mains plus a couple of puds. This week’s starters included ‘Pigs Head’, not a dish I’d tried before and perhaps not one I’d try again. Granted the head isn’t perhaps the most appetising part of a pig to begin with and a fair degree of culinary alchemy is required to change this fact, but the all too thin slices of brawn lacked that powerful piggy oomph that you’re looking for. By contrast my companion’s Soused Mackerel was excellent, fresh, sharp and meaty with slivers of radish to add a little crunch to the dish. For mains we plumped for Duck Leg with Carrots and Haricot Beans and Hake with Red Pepper and Potato. The duck dish was a rustic classic that proved to be more filling than it looked at first. The skin was nicely crisp and well seasoned and the leg itself just the right side of well done. The hake was as moist as a mermaid’s lips and sat atop a bed of sweet red peppers and buttery new potatoes. Both dishes were accompanied by roasted courgettes that somehow managed to melt in the mouth without suffering the indignity of being too mushy.
There were two choices of pudding so we just had to try both (be rude not to, eh?). The Lemon and Ricotta Cake needed more zest to avoid being overwhelmed by the sweet strawberry sorbet, but it was moist and well baked. The Chocolate Tart on the other hand was a triumph, a crunchy biscuit base buried beneath a thick layer of gooey rich chocolate with a light vanilla infused cream to stop you from overdosing on all the cocoa. If this was a chocolate lover’s last dish, they’d die happy.
We ate outside this evening and the venue itself was utterly charming. Hard to believe you’re just a stumble away from the bustling Kings Heath High Street. There’s a decent choice of drinks on offer and, with the sun setting gently behind the brick walled courtyard, you could almost be in some sleepy country village rather than the outskirts of Brum. The portion sizes could perhaps do with being a little larger and it will be interesting to see what other dishes come up over the next few months, but overall it’s a promising start from a clearly talented young chef…sorry, cook…and well worth a visit.


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