Elephant & Castle is the latest part of South London to undergo gentrification.
The demolition of the shopping centre and emergence of Elephant Park has turned into a go-to leisure destination, putting it on the capital’s map.
Rarebit is a fine example of the new Elephant.
As restaurant names go, this for me is a winner, admirably illustrating what to expect from the menu.
This is deliciousness and luxury on a variety of small plates, for the most part.
In 2022, the word ambience has most definitely been replaced with ‘vibe’ and it’s got to said that Rarebit’s got the right vibe.
I called by on a late summer’s evening to be greeted by a mixed crowd – families, singles and date nighters – all co-existing in one happy, joy-inducing place.
The positive vibe has had a helping hand by the minimalist Scandinavian interior and clever lighting that adds a warm glow.
We took a heck of a long time to order food because a trip to the ladies revealed a grocery area, stocked with exceedingly high-quality ingredients – some that regularly make it on to my shopping list and others I look longingly at.
This is a lovely touch and if you wait until after your meal, hunger will not influence purchases.
Nice to see local companies showcased as well, including Rarebit is that most satisfying of British of dishes and one that I nearly always have a fancy for.
It naturally stands front and centre of the menu, a nod to owner Mark’s Welsh heritage.
I asked him if it was a family recipe, which most would jump at the opportunity to latch on to – nothing like mentioning your granny in a dish description – but Mark didn’t, which was refreshing.
An experienced restaurateur, Mark simply sourced the best recipe he could find, which of course includes stacks of cheddar and lashings of beer, creating the best rarebit I’ve ever tasted.
My friend and I agreed that another slice of the larger portion size wouldn’t have gone a miss but managed to restrain ourselves to make way for others we’d ordered.
I should probably mention the mega tasty sourdough upon which the topping was placed.
The person who recommended Rarebit to me suggested I try Grilled Peach, Burrata and Thyme – and how right they were.
Burnished peach flesh loaded onto a fork with soft burrata, bound together by herb fragrance is a classic summer dish.
I’m keen to know what the alternative will be during the cooler months.
Scallop and Nduja Mac and Cheese, with Crab Bisque was a real treat.
This elevated version cut through the sickly richness that so many alternatives offer up these days, adding smoky and sweet flavours.
A little more Nduja would have been most welcome.
The gooeyness of the cheese saw us eat it with a fork from the serving dish, which is of course, unmannerly, but couldn’t be helped.
Before we knew it, there was nothing left.
Not in a main course kind of a mood, we choose one bigger plate that was easy to share – Seared Mackerel Fillet, Pickled Fennel and Salty Fingers and Herb Oil.
As a huge oily fish fan, it hit the right flavour notes with me.
Unexpectedly, samphire’s juicier and saltier cousin even made a memorable impact on me.
Later on in the evening, my friend and I snuck outside for a ‘dessert cocktail’, not an official description, this one’s all mine.
No room for dessert but there’s always room for one last cocktail, especially one of barman Barry’s finest offerings.
I can recommend both Margarita and Espresso Martini.
Outside, the vista is a cross between the brownstone filled streets of New York to the right and harbourside Mediterranean to the left.
This is holiday vibes, for sure.
At our table sat two satisfied customers.
Looking for improvement, my friend reflected that the menu is heavy on cheese, which hadn’t occurred to me.
She followed up by saying that she’s not a big cheesy, but and of course, I am.
For me, I’d love to see Rarebit stuff more cheese into the menu.
Mark, what about fondue in the winter months?
Pictures: Rarebit Pictures: @emmiebhungry