Rabbit in Clarendon: Early Look

Last night I was craving a salad (as I normally do on Mondays after weekends of indulgence) so I decided it was the perfect time to make a trip to the new Rabbit Salad and Grill in Clarendon.

Rabbit’s whole philosophy and what makes them stand out from other salad pop-ups in the area is “Slow Food”: “providing the highest quality ingredients, cooking them with finesse and care, and presenting them in a rich, relaxing environment.” Basically, you won’t build your own salad here- the friendly staff takes time to ensure each prepared salad meets the standards of perfection.

The restaurant opened end of July, so I was hoping enough time had passed to give this place a try, and for the crowds to have died down. Concerning crowds, I didn’t have to worry….the place was empty at around 7:30pm and only about two other people wandered in while we were dining. Granted, it was a  Monday night, but Circa across the street and Pete’s New Haven Pizza were fairly busy. I suppose you would expect this from a salad and sandwich place- but sweetgreen and Chop’t have no problems drawing dinner crowds.

The decor is simple and modern- wood-topped tables with metal chairs and lots of clean, white space. They have a small outdoor seating area also which was perfect for yesterday’s gorgeous weather.

I ordered the Tuna Nicoise salad which had seared tuna, mixed greens, red potatoes, nicoise olives, haricot verts, roasted tomatoes, egg and a vinaigrette with anchovy. The dressing was very light and not especially flavored (which might have been the point as many don’t enjoy heavy anchovy flavor). The tuna was decently prepared and overall the texture of the salad was on point- it just lacked a certain “punch” in my opinion and was a tad salty. And yes, I’ve had Nicoise salads before, most have just had more flavor. The roasted tomatoes and potatoes were delicious though! And for $10.50, a decent deal- the quality matched the price.

Tuna Nicoise salad from Rabbit

My roommate ordered the Steak and Potatoes salad which featured baby spinach, grilled marinated flank steak, pine nuts, roasted onion, blue cheese, roasted tomato, red potatoes, thyme, and a balsamic vinaigrette. Like the Tuna Nicoise, the dressing was not the main player of this salad- you almost couldn’t taste it. The flank steak was well-marinated and the blue cheese stood out- my roommate said she enjoyed the salad more and more as she ate it. I had a bite and immediately came down with a case of food envy and buyer’s remorse. This salad was definitely more up my alley than the Tuna Nicoise.

Steak and Potatoes salad from Rabbit

I definitely want to come back and try some of their grilled sandwiches- I hear there croque monsieur is pretty good and only $7.50. I should also give credit to the staff and service. Even though this was an order from the counter place, the staff in charge of payment greeted you by name after you placed your order, and they had people clearing tables for you after you finished. Definitely appreciate that aspect of the “slow food” process.

Overall though, both of us thought the salads were decent, but lacked a “wow” factor. I appreciated the fresh ingredients, but I’d be more likely to hit up Whole Foods salad bar over Rabbit  most days of the week (even with a price increase).

Maybe there’s something behind the whole “preparing your own salad” mentality?