Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hop Over to Red Rabbit

The Red Rabbit Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

When my normal band of Twitterati foodie friends wanted to go to Red Rabbit for lunch I was a little concerned. I've been trying to eat Paleo for February as a way to analyze my energy levels.  I had nothing to worry about as I had a delightful carnivore lunch.

Red Rabbit takes over the digs of my greatly missed Red Lotus. The red rabbit is in reference to the sculpture at the Sacramento International Airport, but it seems to also be a convenient reason to keep the same interior as Red Lotus. You can't blame them for saving some money. Besides, the interior has always been great in the first place. It's got a large number of booths and tables, a lovely rounded bar that gives ample room to pony up to, and still plenty of space to walk and move around people in your path. They also have a private room and nice back patio.

Our gang arranged ourselves around a table in the floor center and perused the menu. One asked about the daily punch. I guess each day they mix a new cocktail punch and so you never know what it might be. This day it had rum, fresh orange and lime juice, a bitters, and some other things. Apparently the punch had quite a punch to it - or so says my friend.

Paleo means I can only eat meat and veggies, but no dairy, grains, starches (pasta/white potatoes), or sugar. I focused on the meats and selected the Farm Animal Lollipops and the Pork Belly small plates.

lamb, chicken, beef lollipops

The lollipops were a popular choice as almost everyone at our table ordered them. You get three large meatballs, about the size of a golf ball, of lamb, chicken, and beef. This, not surprisingly, led to a flurry of off-color ball jokes including - "These balls are too big for (my) mouth!" I started from what I thought would be the most boring to the most interesting - beef, chicken, lamb. The beef turned out to be my favorite ball, although not the sauce. The beef meatball was full of flavor and had a good fat content to it. It was served with a thick pureed marinara sauce which I found to be rather flat and boring. It needed spice. The chicken was my least favorite. Even though it was wrapped with a strip of bacon to provide added fat and flavor, I found it dull and the beer onion soup aioli it was served with faired no better. Both lacked flavor. The best combination of meatball and sauce was the lamb. There was a nice bit of heat/spice to the lamb and it was served with a mint chimichurri. The chimichurri was rather oily and I really wasn't tasting mint - it seemed more parsley to me. But of the three, the ball/sauce combo worked the best here. Even with these criticisms, which are my personal tastes, I would say it is a nice appetizer that I can see selling very well.


Our main items came out after about a 15-20 minute wait - a bit long for weekday lunch, but luckily I had time to spare. I chose the pork belly that was served with toastettes and a Meyer lemon and caper sauce. My pork belly was a lovely thing! A nice sized piece, it sat amidst a generous ladle of the sauce. I couldn't eat the toastettes, and so I carefully cut my pork belly up into small bits so I could make it last longer. I love lemon/caper sauces and found this one to have the sweet balance of lemony tartness to salty capers. I can see myself ordering this every time I visit Red Rabbit.

short rib patty melt
A couple of people had what also peaked my interest - the Braised Short Rib Patty Melt. Served on ciabatta rolls, the short rib was shredded, saucy, and topped with a good amount of melted cheddar. Jeremy enjoyed his and it was enough to make me put it on my list for a future visit.

Rodney selected the Bastard Banh Mi, which is bastardized by being served on grilled sourdough instead of baguette. This is something I am willing to try because I love banh mi, but Rodney seemed disappointed in it and later wished he had ordered his usual - a burger - after he saw one passing on to another table.


We were thrilled when the owner ended up comping us the brioche doughnuts with chocolate glaze - of which I could not enjoy. :-( I was told that they were nice and crispy on the outside and so light inside as to be described as "hollow". The chocolate glaze was sooooo tempting for me. We had a gluten-free person with us and they were nice enough to send out a little bowl of chocolate ganache since she couldn't enjoy a doughnut.

Red Rabbit has only been open a few weeks and so I look forward to seeing how it fares. The menu is definitely interesting enough for me to make future visits and I'm sure they will continue to tweak and perfect things over time. So far, so good. I wish them luck.
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