I really don’t like whiskey (or bourbon). Blame it on a bad night of free bourbon drinks back in college. So honestly, when it was suggested we go to a whiskey bar to watch a hockey game (the first night) and get a few drinks, I hesitated. But that first night proved pretty delicious, so when my college football teams (University of Florida and Clemson University) were playing last night and I wanted to treat DJSM to a nice meal, I thought we’d give it a second go.
Blind Rabbit has two locations, but I’ve only ever been to the one in Riverside honestly (the other is at Beaches). The vibe attempts to be your neighborhood bar, but also tries to wear the hat of an upscale craft cocktail place. The layout is quite strange, with a wide bar and bar seating, and then a much narrower additional dining area with tall, floor to ceiling curtains randomly placed. The lighting is dim and there are nice touches of exposed brick and mirrors, but then there are multiple tvs playing various sporting events and a relaxed staff and menu. Could be the best of both worlds or a strange hodgepodge of conflicting identities. You let me know.
The bartenders are beyond knowledgable about not only whiskey and bourbon (as they should be), but all alcohol. While the waitstaff is super attentive and amazing (our girl was genuine, friendly, and got us whatever we needed in a timely manner), the management and hostess are a different story. We walked in and asked for a bar table or hightop so that we could watch the games, and the hostess stared at us with a creepy, confused, strange grin for several moments before she sprang to action. Not sure where the confusion came from or if we were asking for an impossible thing, but the interaction was quite strange to say the least. The manager on duty, while pleasant, seemed to operate on a different planet. He didn’t know his table numbers (he delivered our appetizer, but needed assistance from a server to figure out where to put it), his responses to our attempts at conversation were delayed and awkward, and he stood in front of several patrons who were trying to watch the game to blankly stare at the screen (instead of working). Altogether, an odd mix.
The cocktails are amazing, as they should be. They have a very impressive and long list of whiskeys and bourbons (and moonshine/white whiskey too). Keep in mind that they do have non-whiskey/bourbon drinks for those of you who are like me (and they are pretty decent at that). They keep a great variety of beers on tap too (even ciders!), and during their happy hour, you can get a damn good beer on draft for $3. DJSM had an Old Fashioned with white whiskey/moonshine the first time we went and said it was AMAZING and unique.
The menu is an assortment of all of your typical bar fare – burgers, tacos/wraps, salads, soups…the burgers are pretty awesome, but make sure you see if they have any specials that night too. I’ve had the chicken and waffles, which was pretty amazing, and DJSM had the Louisiana Poutine which he said tasted pretty damn good (even if it was heavy).
Blind Rabbit is famous for their Gorgonzola Chips, and you should definitely order them. We passed the first time we ate there on a free order of these, but we ordered them this time. Warm blue cheese sauce, fresh Gorgonzola crumbles, chives, and balsamic dressing smothering some house-made, thin, long potato chips. How could you say no to those?! You can’t make any attempts at class when you eat these, as they are oversized and gooey. The balsamic hits with an acidic and sweet note, while the cheese melts all over the crispy chip…if you go and order nothing else, order these. They ruined my appetite for the rest of the meal and I ate all of four chips.
This time DJSM and I opted for their infamous burgers. As a true Southerner, I had to order the Southern burger. It had a fried green tomato, pimento cheese, peach habanero hot sauce, arugula, cane syrup, and picked okra. DJSM had the BBQ Bacon Burger with bacon, provolone, sweet bbq sauce, fried tobacco onions, and bourbon spiked spicy mustard. All of the burgers come with your choice of “root” or side and sauce. I ordered the french fries (because why not go classic to see if they can do it right) with their homemade Red Bell Pepper Ketchup and Cajun Mayo. and DJSM got the mac and cheese. I think both DJSM and I had concerns that certain flavors just didn’t come through on the burgers – often a consequence of too many ingredients. DJSM couldn’t really taste the BBQ sauce and my Pimento cheese, although readily apparent, didn’t really come through in taste. I will say that I usually don’t like okra, but the pickled okra on the burger was a great sour, spicy, sweet touch. The Peach Habanero Hot Sauce is definitely HOT so only order it on its own if you like to sweat. The cane syrup, and fried green tomato also didn’t really make much of a showing in terms of Flavortown.
The fries were not my favorite – a bit greasy and too brown in certain areas. The Cajun Mayo was more of an aioli, lemony and bright…definitely the best to dip your fries in. The Red Bell Pepper Ketchup was pretty good too – although didn’t taste much different from the bottled kind. I am all for making EVERYTHING in-house, so kudos to a restaurant trying to do that…even down to the sauces. The Mac and Cheese was pretty on point, and I’m a tough critic of macs. It was creamy and cheesy, with a bit of breadcrumb crunch. Normally I could do without the crunch, but it’s not offensive. The biggest downfall of a mac is the dryness factor, and nary a noodle was dry – they were all perfectly soaked in sauce.
The next time you want to watch a game and also want to eat relatively good food (and spirits), this should be on the list. I won’t say it’s the best burger I’ve ever eaten or the greatest eating experience I’ve had, but it’s not horrible either. Just be choosy on the menu (look for the simpler items I’d suggest), definitely order the Gorgonzola chips, and relax with a great drink. There is room for improvement here, but it’s still a quality restaurant and a good time.