WORDS TALIA WALDEGRAVE PHOTOS TRACIE HEASMAN

Inspired by the clas­sic children’s book ‘water­ship down,’ own­ers Errin and Har­ry Sal­is­bury have com­bined fairy­tale fan­ta­sy with the sense of a home away from home. Har­ry explains, “The over­all phi­los­o­phy is to provide a sanc­tu­ary, a place where rab­bits can feel safe and hap­py.”

Need­less to say, you won’t find rab­bit on the menu.

It’s a cold and blus­tery day when I meet with man­ager Deb­bie, and The Rab­bit Hole couldn’t be more invit­ing. Hawke’s Bay sheep­skins cud­dle the seat­ing, deep hues line the walls, and rose-gold hard­ware dress­es the tables – lux­u­ri­ous icing on this oh-so-com­fort­able cake. I spend most of the inter­view con­sid­er­ing a cheeky lie down in one of the pri­vate booths, appre­hen­sive about my impend­ing return to the out­side world.

On warm days, the win­dows and doors fold back to cre­ate one large open space. “We want our clien­tele to feel removed from the hum­drum, yet still be con­nect­ed to the over­all Mount buzz.”

Shel­tered and sun­ny for most of the day, the al fres­co area con­nect­ing the restau­rant and café offers an out­stand­ing van­tage point. Look­ing along Maun­ganui Road, Sal­is­bury Wharf, and across the bustling round­about that con­nects the two, it is peo­ple watch­ing gold.

A café and restau­rant, The Rab­bit Hole cov­ers all your bases, from an exten­sive break­fast menu, excel­lent cof­fee and imag­i­na­tive cab­i­net food, to busi­ness lunch­es, after­noon tip­ples, din­ner, and week­end ses­sions com­plete with live music.

Air roast­ed Fix­a­tion cof­fee is the ulti­mate accom­pa­ni­ment to deli­cious house-made cab­i­net food, and when you’re in search of some­thing stronger, head across to the restau­rant for lunch, tapas, or din­ner.

The restau­rant menu offers some intrigu­ing ele­ments. Chef Cezar Taka­hashi is Brazil­ian-born with Japan­ese ances­try, and uses a com­bi­na­tion of flavours and tech­niques from both South Amer­i­ca and Japan, to cre­ate a Nikkei menu. Japan­ese-Peru­vian fusion is cen­turies old, but is the cur­rent trend sweep­ing Europe.

Deb­bie says, “Cezar is pas­sion­ate about fish. He pre­pares sashimi using Japan­ese tech­niques then adds the sweet­ness and spice of Brazil­ian flavours. We still have the clas­sics, but you also have a chance to try some­thing new and inter­est­ing.”

Sat­ur­days and Sun­days provide the offer­ing of live music, and what bet­ter way to while away the after­noon than with a few tunes, a cold drink and a Brazil­ian meat or cheese plat­ter?

We can host events, we encour­age busi­ness break­fasts, and we are def­i­nite­ly fam­i­ly friend­ly. We want every­body to feel The Rab­bit Hole is the place for them. Come in, snug­gle down and let us do the rest.”

 

Salmon, edamame purée, prawns and teriyaki sauce

 

pork belly, tauranga, the rabbit hole, restaurant, food
Gold­en lemon­grass pork bel­ly

 

Cured ora king salmon, green apple and fen­nel puree, spicy poached shal­lots with dill oil, clams, sunomono, sal­icor­nia sea­weed with coconut lime oil, furikake sponge and squid ink tuile

211 Maun­ganui Rd, Down­town Mount Maun­ganui

Open: Café 7 Days, 7.30am — 4pm;

Restau­rant Tue — Sun, 11am — late

0800 4 RABBITHOLE

THERABBITHOLE.NZ