When I told my American friend that I was going to study in Moscow this semester, his first response was: “Have you heard of White Rabbit?”
He had seen Vladimir Mukhin, White Rabbit’s chef, be featured in an episode of “Chef’s table”, a show on Netflix introducing its viewers to extraordinary cooks and restaurants around the world. In the episode dedicated to Mukhin, he explains his goal of making people rediscover the Russian tastes that were lost during Soviet times. However, the young chef does not simply copy the recipes that he collects in old cookbooks and by meeting people who have kept old recipes alive. He completely revisits them. “White Rabbit” describes this process as a “maturation, improvement and development”, not a revolution but an evolution.
This brings us to the restaurant’s main attraction, its 10,000 rubles tasting menu called “Russian evolution”. It consists of 14 dishes, amongst which you can find the traditional food salo, but with the usual fatback replaced by coconut pulp, and sea scallops accompanied by a mix of eucalyptus and yogurt.
Other dishes proposed by White Rabbit outside of the Russian evolution menu include calf tongue in chokecherry dough, stewed rabbit kidneys and fried radish with sour cream and pike caviar. Even though all White Rabbit dishes can be traced back to the traditions of Russian cuisine, they always present an element of surprise.
My personal favorite was Mukhin’s mandarin honey cake, a new take on the popular Russian layer cake Medovik that I typically find too rich. Mukhin preserved the taste of honey but made the dessert lighter by mixing it with mandarin and sour cream. The dish presents a perfect balance of taste, but also between new and old; Mukhin juxtaposed his version of the Medovik with his grand-mother’s recipe. In “Chef’s table”, he jokes that his honey cake is not a match for his grand-mother’s, but I personally think he did an amazing job.
More than a simple dinner, an evening at White Rabbit is an experience. Nothing was left to chance, from the perfectly executed rabbit theme in a 16th floor penthouse in Moscow’s historical center, to the remarkable service and finally, of course, the memorable food. Most of all, I loved the concept of making people discover Russian cuisine by showing it in evolution. I am not surprised that White Rabbit placed as the 15th best restaurant in the world last year according to “The world’s 50 best restaurants rating” and I am excited to see what its ambitious chef accomplishes in the future.