Shortly after its grand opening in Jacksonville Beach, we tried the Blind Rabbit, twice!
The walls, tables, and chairs are all black. Heck, even the waiters are all dressed in black, giving The Blind Rabbit a kick of elegance that fits in well with its Beach location. In the dining area, little candles shimmer on the tables. The other half of the restaurant contains an expansive and more informal bar area. We arrived for an unfashionably early dinner. So early in fact that we arrived in the midst of happy hour. Coincidence? The Blind Rabbit serves up a good selection of local area craft beers from Engine 15, The Green Room, Pinglehead, and others. At $2.50 a pint during happy hour, it’s going to be a popular haunt.
We decided to start with the Poutine appetizer. We have had more than our fair share of authentic Quebec poutine. It is traditionally made with cheese curds and lots of chicken based gravy. I must say this was not authentic poutine, but it might actually be better! The fries are all hand cut and cooked to perfection. Nothing soggy here. The cheese did not look like a cheese curd to me, but it melted just right. The gravy was made with short ribs, giving it a deep, rich flavor. There was real meat in the gravy, as well - not a lot, but enough to add another layer of taste. There was also a little something that gave a wonderful richness to the gravy. The waitress said it was malt vinegar, which is what the English use on their french fries. How appropriate … and delicious.
For our entrées, we ordered burgers. Now for those of you who think a burger must follow the rules of bun, burger, ketchup, relish, and mustard, let me tell you that rules were meant to be broken and the Blind Rabbit breaks them all. First up was the Southern Burger. It had arugula on top, along with a fried green tomato, okra and pimento cheese. There was a lot going on in between those two buns, so the meat patty, while good, was almost secondary. The tartness of the fried green tomato cut through the rich cheese, and the arugula added a crunchy, refreshing finish.
All burgers are served with one 'root' item and one sauce. I chose the baby turnips with the mustard sauce. The turnips were roasted and served with garlic spinach. I love roasted vegetables and this side was unique and welcome. On our second visit the turnips had left the menu so I ordered the goat cheese grits. These are not instant grits, but the kind you cook for a while. The goat cheese made the grits wonderfully creamy. I'd order either again and hope the turnips re-appear.
Mel had the Blues Burger with Tobacco Onions. The burger was cooked as specified and had a great blue cheese flavor without overpowering the taste of the beef. The onion straws were crunchy and there were lots of them.
For dessert, we ordered the Key Lime Pie and the S’More Brownie. They come in mason jars so you can see the layers of ingredients. For the Key Lime Pie, the base was graham cracker crust. The middle layer was a tart, creamy lime. Topping everything off was a meringue with a brulée finish; a bit of sugar was sprinkled on the meringue and then torched to caramelize the sugar. The result was a crunchy, sweet top. The S’More Brownie dessert started off with a base of graham cracker crust, then fresh brownies, then the best peanut butter mousse I have ever had, all topped with a meringue brulée. The menu said it was a marshmallow topping, but it looked and tasted the same as the topping on the Key Lime Pie to us. Not that we’re complaining.
It can get loud when the place is full and a little soundproofing would help. But we loved the food and the staff, and especially that it is now open in Jacksonville Beach (map).