IT'S a febrile restaurant scene. Just when The Ivy and Dishoom are announcing their winter arrival, with nigh on 700 covers between them, Manchester has lost another adventurous fine dining restaurant.
The Rabbit (formerly Rabbit In The Moon) on top of Urbis will serve its last meal on Saturday, November 17 just two years since it opened as a 'boundary pushing space-age Asian dining experience'. Backed by Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs’ GG Hospitality Group, its cuisine curated by Michael O’Hare of Leeds’ Michelin-starred Man Behind The Curtain, it divided opinion, but was never dull.
Who could forget that signature starter of Crispy Rabbit Ears (pictured) – prawn crackers moulded to look like lengthy lapin lugholes, planted in ‘inedible dust’?
After head chef Luke Cotterill was dispensed with abruptly O’Hare was supposed to be more hands-on but then he jumped spaceship. It reopened under another of his proteges, Ulsterman John Granaghan, who maintained the pan-Asian menu but with a lighter touch. A few months later they dropped the Moon from the title and the writing was on the wall.
A spokesperson for the restaurant said: “As a result of a number of factors, the trading figures for the restaurant do not justify keeping the operation open and the shareholders want to focus resources on the roll out of hotels which are ultimately the core of the business.
"With effect from November 18 the venue will be used for corporate and private events only. The team at The Rabbit will continue to operate the venue under the GG Events & Catering brand.”
Three other restaurants have failed on the site – Le Mont, The Modern and Kaleido – and the city recently lost an equally high profile operation, Manchester House.