Anyone trying to break into London’s organic sourdough pizza market will find it quite a task these days, thanks to the nearly-omnipresent Franco Manca, which specialises in high-quality and affordable renditions of just that. In Crystal Palace, however, Four Hundred Rabbits has pipped them to the chomping post.
The restaurant has a prime location on the Triangle, which is the place to be for any restaurant, vintage store or lifestyle shop in SE19. It draws attention with its vibrant green frontage and colourful, brightly-lit interior (pine tables and stools, exposed ducts and funky prints riffing on the restaurant’s moniker).
The menu is short and sweet. The team has concentrated on perfecting their six pizzas (plus two specials), and delegated ice cream, coffee and juices to other specialists (Gelupo, Allpress, and Peckham’s Ali Baba Juice, respectively). They have, however, stretched to a barrel-aged negroni (£3.50). A punchy, pleasingly bitter concoction it’s dinky enough to polish off before the pizzas arrive.
The pies themselves are no Franco Manca knock-off. For a start, the bases are completely different: tightly knit rather than soft and chewy, and mildly sour instead of boldly tangy. Whereas Franco Manca puts as much focus on the base as on the sparse toppings, 400 Rabbits sees it very much as a quality foundation for lavish toppings – our generously laden special of merguez, roasted butternut squash and pine nuts got extra oomph from burnt-aubergine yoghurt. For dessert, a pimp-your-own sundae is the only way to go.
We weren’t the only people hopping away from this good-value neighbourhood spot with a twinkle in our eye – locals are practically jumping for joy since its arrival. Franco Manca might dominate the London sourdough pizza landscape, but there’s no reason Four Hundred Rabbits can’t run, and run, and maybe even make 400 Baby Bunnies in due course.