Sometimes, simple pleasures are the best, and it’s easy to think that the founders of new restaurant Four Hundred Rabbits agree. Pizza, beer and ice cream aren’t always seen as the most sophisticated culinary exploits, but when done well, they’re undeniably hard to beat. And Four Hundred Rabbits does them very well indeed.
Taking its unusual name from Aztec mythology (the four hundred rabbit children of the goddess of alcohol and the god that discovered fermentation, supposedly), this Crystal Palace pizzeria first opened its doors in August. The minimalist, pastel-hued décor is bright, inviting and convivial, sparse wooden furniture reinforcing the laid back, stripped down aesthetic.
The menu is similarly minimal. Six regular pizzas, two rotating specials and a couple of salads represent the savoury offerings, a clarity of focus that suggests meticulous thought must have gone into the dishes that made the cut. The pizzas include a mix of old classics and a few more inventive creations, especially once you hit the specials board.
A special featuring smoked pigs cheek, chestnut mushrooms and cavolo nero was a little unbalanced, with the mushrooms lost in the mix, but the paper-thin slices of pork proved heavenly – WHO be damned. Iberico chorizo and pickled chillis, one of the regulars, proved more successful, with simple spices allowing the delicate flavour of the light, airy sourdough base to come through.
Gelato comes courtesy of Soho’s Gelupo, the small selection of six flavours available on their own, or combined with a variety of toppings and sauces for DIY ice cream sundaes. Once again, this is a simple pleasure, executed magnificently and (perhaps most importantly) served generously.
Beyond food, there’s a strong selection of craft beers, served either in ? pint schooners, or by the bottle or can. Breweries including Beavertown, Fourpure and Weird Beard make appearances on the regularly rotating menu, and there’s a decent variety on offer – good news for those frustrated by craft beer menus that start and stop with IPA. There’s wine and soft drinks for those who don’t want hops with everything, but beer is the clear focus here, and they’re rightly proud of what they serve.
A menu built around pizza and ice cream seems to have made Four Hundred Rabbits predictably popular with local families, but the bright, modern space and unfussy menu should give it universal appeal. So skip the tasting menus, and give in to some more straightforward pleasures.
Words by Dom Preston