The White Rabbit: ‘Tasty but unimaginative and disorganised’ – restaurant review

The White Rabbit pub

Margherita Pizza and Mad Hatter Calzone at a gourmet pizza pub

Last term I was recommended pizza from The White Rabbit pub by a friend. I had walked past it on many occasions, and observed its boast of serving “gourmet artisan pizza”, but not being a fan of pub grub, had passed the opportunities to eat there. But now here was a recommendation, and my interest was piqued. One Saturday evening, I arranged to meet my friend Emma for supper at the White Rabbit. Standing outside, watching a fair number of people enter the pub as I waited, it suddenly struck me that it was Saturday, and if I didn’t go in pronto there would soon be no tables left. True enough, I got the last table, a tiny, sloping one beside the bar. Handy, I thought, for catching the bar-tender’s attention, but it turned out that much quicker service can be got if you bother to walk up to the right side of the bar.

Emma had a Margherita (£5.95) and I a Mad Hatter Calzone (£8.50), which was a surprise, because, as it says on the menu, you “Leave it to the Chef”. My calzone filling turned out to be, I thought, goat’s cheese, basil, tomato, and mozzarella. Quite tasty, and from trying a piece of the Margherita, I could see why The White Rabbit pizzas could claim to be “artisan”. The dough was thick, not thin like the Italian pizza dough that I prefer, but was good enough: soft, light, not dry, and not too chewy. The topping – or in my case, filling – was moist and fresh.

The pizza was tasty enough, but did not particularly stand out for me. The prices were fine, I guess. The Mad Hatter Calzone was indeed a surprise, but not a particularly imaginative one. The table, as one might expect in a pub, was sticky and had not been wiped down – we had to ask for that. And the pub, being full to bursting, was hot and stuffy. The White Rabbit which promised “pizza hypnosis” did not hypnotise with its décor or pizza, but made it rather easy to doze off. On the plus side, service was quick and the staff as warm as the temperature inside the pub.

So I would say that the White Rabbit is good enough to go in and have a try, but not good enough to reserve a table especially at. Not that you can. When my friend telephoned, the staff did say that the pub took no reservations. So imagine my confusion when there was a sign saying “reserved” on one of the tables that seated four. And annoyance, since I was really hoping not to have to sit at the most awkwardly-placed table in the pub. But at least, I consoled myself, the person who seemed to be running the operations that evening seemed to be as equally confused as I by the “reserved” sign.

(Maybe) find the White Rabbit at Friars Entry, Oxford OX1 2BY, and don’t be late for your date!


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