БЦ “Смоленский Пассаж”, Смоленская пл., 3, Москва
Hours: 12:00 pm-2:00 am
Prices: 900 rubles+
For the not-so-wealthy student who is “cursed” with the love of exquisite food, the opportunity to dine at a fancy, yet accessible establishment is quite rare. By accessible, I mean a restaurant that is affordable, local, and doesn’t require reservations months ahead. White Rabbit is that elusive restaurant. Better yet, it is actually listed as #23 of the top 50 restaurants in the world.
This restaurant is located on the 16th floor of the Smolenskiy Passage. When we entered the top floor, we were taken back by the way its décor, which was beautifully decorated in an Alice in Wonderland theme. Waiters dressed in Mad Hatter inspired uniforms, and portraits of dignified, personified rabbits hung on walls. Come for dinner around 7:00, and enjoy a panoramic view of Moscow through the glass dome roof. It’s an unforgettable experience.
Despite its lofty ranking, the food is surprisingly quite affordable. You can get dinner for $15.* Moreover, an important part of the experience for me was that the service was not pretentious whatsoever. The waiters were sweet and patient with our broken Russian and indecisiveness. As half-broke college students who managed to assemble some sort of decent outfits from our suitcases, we felt very comfortable in this supposedly hoity-toity establishment. In fact, we felt more comfortable there than we ever did while checking out with the cashiers at the supermarket Dixi. If that’s not enough to convince you to go, you don’t even need a reservation.
Dishes ranged from more “everyday” dishes, such as cheese ravioli ($16), to rabbit tongue served in mustard sauce ($20). If you have been craving mousse made of a young goat cheese with honeysuckle ice-cream, your search ends here.
- Even if your Russian is good, ask for an English menu as well. Because many of the ingredients are quite unusual, I had a hard enough time understanding them even in English.
- This place does not employ “face control.” However, it is a nice establishment and I recommend that you wear something decent. I have seen people wear t-shirts here, but I don’t recommend that, since some online reviewers said that they have been turned away for that.
- Come early and block out your entire evening. It can take an excruciating long time to prepare the food. However, go with good company and chat! Or, be a nerd and go over your Russian language flash cards, like I did.
- Go in smaller groups. It will be easier to get seating, especially if you don’t want to make a reservation. Plus, the tables are not really set up for groups of 10.
- As mentioned earlier, even though you might not need reservations, I recommend going on a weekday night if you can. If they tell you they can’t take you in because you don’t have a reservation, ask if you can wait. We did that once, and ended up waiting only half an hour. Otherwise, you can possibly ask to sit at the bar instead.
- If you do have to wait, kill time by going outside to the smoking patio, which is connected to the restaurant on the outside. Ask the waiter where this is, since it may not be obvious. From there, the view is gorgeous. You can see one of the Seven Sisters and take pretty photos of the city.
- If you do want to make a reservation, however, you will have to put down a large, non-refundable deposit with your credit card. It will go towards your meal, but will essentially ensure the restaurant that you will spend a certain amount.
For groups and faculty-led tours, this isn’t really the kind of establishment for that. As stated previously, it’s best to go in smaller groups and may not be everybody’s cup of tea.
*The writer of this review is not responsible if you dine at White Rabbit and realize you are unable to refrain from ordering way past your budget limit.