|Follow the white rabbit.|
Stepping from the bright lights of Midtown Global Market into the Rabbit Hole, the new restaurant at the market's edge, is a bit like stepping into another world. The lights are dim. A stack of books twists over the top of the host stand. A line of seats frames the open kitchen where chefs throw down hunks of meat onto a fiery grill or toss sizzling veggies in big chrome colored woks. Step to the left and you can wend your way through a maze of cozy booths; to the right, there's a long, sleek bar area.
|A chef prepares food inside the Rabbit Hole|
The different dining areas allow for happy hour gatherings, outings to watch the game at the bar, an intimate date night, or a front row seat to watch the cooking action.
|Table for 8|
In the far back corner, behind swinging doors is a green turf covered spot that looks like a little house dressed up with cascading flowers. Before the house sits an elegant table set for 8 lit by a giant chandelier covered in white feathers.
There are bits of whimsy throughout the room, like tables glued to walls, set with teetering and tottering teapots and cups.
|"Pssst, hey, follow me!"|
The menus are attached to a thin wire at each booth. A small button is available for pressing when you'd like to order, or need anything from the wait staff. "It's really un-Minnesotan. I'm not good at summoning people," commented one of our diners. As soon as we decided what to order, we all stared at the button, willing it to magically be pressed. (By our second round of cocktails, that hesitation evaporated.)
|View from the open kitchen to the bar|
The full bar sports several drinks on tap, including Not Doing Jack in the Morning, which wasn't as powerful as the name implies. It was a nice balance of spirit, bitter, and citrus made with Jack Daniels, Fernet Branca, Aperol, orange liqueur, and bitters for $9. We also liked the Hi Ryezer made with Old Overholt Rye, sweet Vermouth and Bokbunja bitters also for $9.
|Truffled fries with kimchi aioli|
We started with an order of French fries ($6) topped with shaved bits of Parmesan cheese, a faint drizzle of truffle oil, and a side of kimchi spiked aioli. They were super crispy and disappeared quickly.
|Pork Belly skewers|
There are several skewers of meat and veggies available that arrive in two three-ounce portions. We sampled the pork belly ($7), which was mild in flavor with crispy, crunchy, tender hunks of meat that we dragged through the tart, zippy pickled mustard seeds, sweet soy sauce, and bright cilantro sprigs.
A Korean sausage ($8) arrived basted in red chili with a piled of sweet, caramelized onions. It's packed with pork, white rice, and zesty spice. The heat was cooled off by bites of shaved scallion.
The crispy, loaded bacon Haemul Pajeon pancake ($10) was a crackling wonder: a combination of scallop, crab, and long strands of scallions all battered and fried to a delightful crisp. Doused in sauce and eaten with the spicy, tart kimchi, it was a perfect post-work happy hour nosh.
|Duck... duck... Dduk!|
Our favorite dish of the evening had to be the Duck, Duck...Dduk ($6). Disks of rice flour dumplings were cooked to a tender chew, tossed in vibrant, sweet, spicy gojuchang, topped with duck confit, and served with a side of confit cooked, creamy garlic. We might have ordered two.
|Chef Thomas Kim|
Throughout our visit, chef and owner Thomas Kim seemed to be everywhere -- even once emerging from the little cottage at the back of the dining area (we're guessing it's an office?) He was behind the line, checking the bar, and visiting each table to chat with guests and get their feedback on the first few bites.
|Don't skip dessert|
We finished our evening with a lily-gilding dessert tray. A dreamy mango pudding was garnished with house-made marshmallows and bunny-shaped biscotti. A tartlet was made with crust wrapped around a sweet potato filling and topped with pear and golden raisin compote. A flourless chocolate cake was topped with a massive raspberry. The Hotteck was the one dessert we wanted to marry: A sweet pancake made from shatter-crisp pastry shell was wrapped around just sweet enough adzuki (red bean) and drizzled with creamy, caramel dulce de leche, spiked with toasty cinnamon and anise and crunchy candied walnuts. It was an extraordinary dish for a crew that usually eschews desserts.
In fact, the entire experience was extraordinary -- almost like some kind of fantastic dream.
920 East Lake Street, Suite 101
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