3 ISSUES FOR JUST £3 Subscribe to Cheshire Life today click here

Restaurant review - The Rabbit in the Moon, Manchester

PUBLISHED: 00:00 10 August 2018 | UPDATED: 12:20 14 August 2018

Fillet of beef with black bean sauce and salt a pepper prawn

Fillet of beef with black bean sauce and salt a pepper prawn

© The Vain Photography | Carl Sukonik | http://www.thevain.co.uk/ | http://www.twitter.com/thevainphotos

Your granny wouldn’t like it but this Manchester restaurant aims to be out of this world, writes Roger Borrell.

The amazing carpet sets the tone for the restaurantThe amazing carpet sets the tone for the restaurant

When I sat down to write this piece Michael O’Hare was the celebrity chef behind the Rabbit in the Moon restaurant in Manchester. By the time I’d finished it, he’d gone.

OK, I exaggerate a little but it says something about modern art of cheffing that every kitchen now seems fitted with a revolving door. O’Hare, who has gone back to Leeds, came to prominence when he produced winning food on BBC’s Great British Menu

He has looks that wouldn’t seem out of place fronting a heavy metal band and the plates he presents could be abstracts torn from the walls of Tate Modern. Jackson Pollock’s, perhaps – and no, madam, that isn’t rhyming slang.

I am assured nothing has changed since O’Hare went. That could be good or bad, depending on what you like to eat. If you prefer a nice pub lunch, then I’d strongly advise you to avoid it.

Bao bun with smoked eel, oyster sauce and avocadoBao bun with smoked eel, oyster sauce and avocado

While big city sophisticates might beat a path to its door, devotees of meat, two veg and don’t stint on the gravy, mother, might find this Asian-influenced food a bit challenging.

The Rabbit in the Moon – the name comes from an oriental story, I’m told – is based on the top floor of the Urbis building, a green glass box in Corporation Street. It’s achingly modern in décor with a large pottery spaceman on each table and giddying views over the city. Dull it isn’t.

It’s first incarnation was a disappointment to some customers and to O’Hare, who I suspect is a micro-managing perfectionist. He was brave enough to close it for three months to get things right and then walked away.

According to diners, one of the biggest problems was a tasting menu with so many courses it could take you several weeks to work your way through them. That problem seems to have been solved with a manageable, pared down version of eight dishes.

Langoustine toastLangoustine toast

Even with a reduced menu, it’s probably best to confine ourselves to The Rabbit’s greatest hits, although an honourable mention goes to a very amusing bouche – what looked like rabbits ears sticking out of moon dust. They were, I’m pleased to report, carefully crafted prawn crackers.

Three small starters set the standard. Little steamed bao buns, with the restaurant’s rabbit logo seared into the tops, came with smoked eel, oyster sauce and avocado. Lobster with a Thai twist was captured in a crispy shell while Porthill oyster came with a kick of pickled ginger and wasabi. Confusion or fusion? Who cares – these were great ingredients that delivered on flavour.

More Far Eastern influences came with juicy hand-dived scallops with duck tongues and on-trend OX sauce, nothing to do with the cubes you crumble into gravy but a spectacularly spicy fish sauce from Hong Kong.

Charcoal cinders – they tasted better than they sound, happily – provided a bed for some soy and ginger pork cheek. This wasn’t the prettiest dish of the night but I’m a sucker for a bit of cheek.

Petits fours, including a peppercorn eclairPetits fours, including a peppercorn eclair

The stand out – in looks and taste – was the pink fillet of beef with a butterflied salt and pepper prawn and a black bean sauce. This possessed a flavour so deep they must dig it from a mine. It was a gorgeous plate of food and the sunny fried egg on the side just made you smile. Only negative was the large prawn that looked a little like roadkill.

The desserts were equally inventive as were the petits fours, which included a peppercorn éclair. Everything came on striking tableware made especially, my dear, for the Rabbit by artisans in Spain. They were fetched and carried by a young, friendly and knowledgeable team who liked to chat – particularly about the wine list which includes a red from China – but didn’t outstay their welcome.

The Rabbit in the Moon is certainly different and for special occasions rather than a once a week venue. It will appeal to people who are prepared to put a little adventure into their eating. Dinner is £70 a head (£45 for lunch) and not a gravy boat in sight. Hopefully, by the time you’ve finished reading this, it’s still there.

The Rabbit in the Moon is open Wednesday to Saturday and is based at the Urbis Building, Corporation Street, Manchester, M4 3BG. 0161 804 8560. therabbitinthemoon.co.uk

More from Food & Drink

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Digest this mini review in 60 seconds

Read more
Stockport Asian Food
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Parea in Alderley Edge serves up an all-day menu, a lively atmosphere, a soupçon of glamour and there’s not a tasting menu in sight.

Read more
Alderley Edge Cheshire Restaurants

Raise your glasses to the winners of the Cheshire Life Food and Drink Awards. They celebrated in style at Carden Park

Read more
Friday, September 14, 2018

The local produce and rising number of eateries deserve closer examination

Read more
Friday, September 7, 2018

Enjoy our September specials, this month we travel to Barbados!

Read more
Friday, September 7, 2018

The shop on Godstall Lane becomes the company’s fourth location in Cheshire and Wirral.

Read more
Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Colin Starkey and his team created a memorable lunch at the Pinewood Hotel’s One Eighty restaurant in Handforth

Read more
Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Belton Farm were crowned Supreme Champion at the International Cheese Awards at Dorfold in Nantwich.

Read more
Monday, August 27, 2018

Putting the spotlight on retailers whose business is an important part of the community

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Property Search