I’ve had my eye on the Rabbit Hole for a few weeks now. A play cafe opening in East London. .. It needed to be investigated. It was a bit tricky organising people to go with me and the sunshine was most distracting but eventually I assembled a panel of mothers – almost alphabetically called F, G, J, K and L to give it a go.
Initial impressions were good. .. me and Eva were the first ones in there and so she thought she had the run of the place – a ball pool, an enclosed baby area, a play kitchen – but it soon filled up and Eva had to do some of that sharing she’s so good at (particularly sought after among the toddlers was the giant teapot)
If I have one regret in life, it’s Eva’s outfit. I mean, who wears an owl jumper and deer shorts to a rabbit cafe? It wouldn’t have been so bad, but she has a full rabbit-themed outfit that she wore just the day before (t shirt, shorts and tights). But I’ve learnt. Never again will I let her go “full rabbit” the day before visiting a place called “The Rabbit Hole”. Phew, I’m glad I’ve got that out..
Outfits aside, I had few regrets as I enjoyed my tensies (cappuccino and croissant, only part mangled by toddler) and Eva entertained herself. More people arrived, tensies slid into lunchtime and I was getting peckish again. Now, they don’t have an extensive lunch menu at the moment but a) they are bringing out a new menu soon, under the guidance of a Mexican chef (if I heard that right) and b) they were willing to go off – menu a bit to provide F with a cheese and tomato bagel. I had the nachos with salsa, guacamole and jalapeños, which were nice, and Eva had a croissant of her own. She also had a baba juice – a very reasonably priced sippy cup of part juice, part water.
You can see there are still bits they’re working out, as with any new business but things are running relatively smoothly and there’s a lovely atmosphere. The owner’s daughter was playing alongside the other toddlers and it was obvious that they had really thought about what children need. The only improvement I would suggest is to get a kid seat for the toilet (Eva was keen to do a wee and so she perched. .. But given we’re not actually potty training yet, it’s a minor concern).
It treads a delicate balance between cafe and play space – it’s easy to linger in there for three hours (as we did) but I was conscious that it’s a business and so we needed to buy a fair bit between us if we wanted to keep lingering. Which is obviously not a problem but I can see how people might take advantage of the lovely space and the welcoming attitude of the owners and neglect to actually buy anything. So I’m telling you LWAT readers…. Don’t do that! Support independent business by eating cake. I’m happy to demonstrate this model for you if you’re unclear. ..(And I’m kinda lusting after one of those jam jars full of still lemonade that L had. ..)
I’d hope it goes without saying that my heart remains with The Dish and the Spoon but with such different geographical areas I’m pretty sure it’s OK to like both. The Rabbit Hole is slightly different from some of the other cafes we’ve been to in that it stocks clothes as well, so is kinda a shop/cafe/playspace which also hosts baby sensory classes and led craft sessions. It’s in a bit of an odd area – not quite Stratford, not quite Forest Gate but I think it’ll work to their advantage because there isn’t a lot else around there to compete with. I was amused to see an adult shop called “Pirate Shop” – were they aiming for “Private Shop” or is it aimed at the niche mariner-fetishist who enjoys dressing in skimpy nurse outfits? That really is what you’d call a destination shop. Arrr.
And, just for Nathan I have to point out that the cafe is almost next door to the Cart and Houses pub, aka “The Birthplace of Iron Maiden”
Now that’s really something for the dads…
VERDICT: A welcome addition to a bleak bit of East London. Be prepared to hang out for a while – toddlers are not easily extracted from the ball pool.