I went to the Dead Rabbit yesterday for lunch. It probably would’ve been more fair to go for a drink, but I was especially curious how it fares as a restaurant, since I’ve long wondered when the Financial District will see its influx of non-fast-food restaurateurs. Damn it, Keith McNally! You are needed down here! (A bunch of outlets have written about the place, so if you want to know about the back story, go here or here.)
It’s in the southeastern corner of FiDi, about a 15-minute walk from Broadway and Chambers. The proprietors have clearly spent a lot of time and energy making the space look good—the contrast between the Subway next door and the ye olde interior of the Dead Rabbit couldn’t be greater. The latter has atmosphere to burn, although what with the saloon vibe—I can’t remember the last time I set foot on a floor covered with sawdust—and mountain music I began to think I had wandered into Frontierland.
The ground floor is the taproom, and that’s where lunch is served; the upstairs is nicer—cushioned bar stools, for instance—and it’s for craft cocktails, opening at 5 p.m. (The third floor is for banquets.) The space is very narrow, and all but a handful of the 25-ish seats downstairs are at the bar or a counter attached to the wall. For lone diners or pairs, that’s no big deal, but a group of six guys meeting for lunch found themselves blocking the space as they stood and talked. (They were why I didn’t take a photo of the entire room.) There is a lone table by the front window, and I’m not sure why they didn’t want to sit there.
The menu is as attractive-looking as the room, but it’s mostly about drinks. The food is pretty old-school: a lot of nibblybits (presumably with drinks in the evening), a burger, savory pies, fish and chips. I ordered the fish and chips, and if the sawdust gave me a shock, you can imagine how I felt when I saw the curly parsley garnish. (As I ate, I wondered if curly parsley is coming back. And I also wondered whether Italians call it prezzemolo americano.) The fish was extremely moist—so much so that when I first tried it, I wondered if it was fully cooked. (It was.) The fries aren’t my preferred style—I like ‘em thin like Karlie Kloss—but the homemade ketchup, laced with sriracha, helped. If my enthusiasm sounds wan, it’s because I was hoping for a restaurant that wasn’t about pub food, but for all that, this is a step above the other options in the area. The bartender could not have been sweeter, and they even use sexy ice cubes for the water and soft drinks.
After lunch, I checked out the upstairs. Half of the room is bar, and the other is tables. I couldn’t take more than a quick photo because they were still prepping for their official opening last night (and/or recovering from the previous night’s party). As for the grocery, it’s a few shelves in the back.
The Dead Rabbit is at 30 Water (between Broad and Coenties Slip), 646-422-7906; deadrabbitnyc.com.
Recent New Kid on the Block/First Impressions articles:
• The Lounge at Atera
• American Flatbread Tribeca Hearth
• Rosie Pope
• Bikini Bar
• The Cricketers Arms
• Tribeca Canvas