Victoria Purcell heads to Crystal Palace’s new imaginatively titled and much-talked about pizza restaurant, Four Hundred Rabbits
When it comes to pizza, it’s all about that base. And, um, the toppings. Thankfully, Four Hundred Rabbits* has got both covered with cracking sourdough crusts that are light in texture but harbour a good flavour, plus inventive, seasonal toppings sourced from some of the UK’s most interesting artisanal producers. Oh and they’re paired with craft beers – a winning formula.
The place certainly looks the part, decked out in a sparse, contemporary fashion with long benches and stools that are somewhat reminiscent of the school science lab and a colour scheme that pits flashes of turquoise with hints of powder pink against a predominantly neutral background. It’s very cool. A bit Shoreditch, if I may say so without being lynched!
That sourdough base really is good, furnished with a generous slathering of San Marzano tomato base, plus a little hint of basil. Then comes the Fior de Latte Mozzarella, and atop this triumvirate of greatness I opted for smoked pigs cheek, smoked Lincolnshire poacher, sweet corn and pea shoots – one of the specials that day. I skirted the edges with a cautious sprinkle of chilli oil, rolled up a slice into a handy sort of finger food (beer in the other hand) and wow, it was fantastic. Like those flavours were born to be together. I should have been a little more cautious with the chilli oil, but the bottle of Moor Golden Ale I’d ordered was hoppy and sharp enough to cut right through the damage.
My friend’s Fourpure Pilsner certainly didn’t stand up to those bold flavours, but it was a good match for his simple, flawlessly executed margarita-style pizza. There are four rotating craft beers on tap and six in bottles and cans. You can also buy them in schooners (a two-third pint measure) and soon in growlers – a handy vessel that you can fill up and take home with you.
Four Hundred Rabbits has hit upon a cunning way of serving you life’s indulgences in a way that’s almost good for you. Sourdough is more digestible and nutritious than standard dough and research has shown that craft beers have more health benefits than red wine. And so, to continue along the same vein, I ordered a two-scoop sundae of green tea sorbet (lots of antioxidants) and hazelnut sorbet (rich in vitamins and minerals), topped with cacao nibs (even more of those hard-working antioxidants). Who knew pizza, beer and ice-cream could be so good for you?
30-32 Westow Street SE19 3AH; 020 8771 6249; 400rabbits.co.uk
*What’s in a name? Thousands of years ago the Aztecs worshipped a God of fermentation and a Goddess of alcohol. According to Aztec lore, these two deities got together, resulting in no fewer than Four Hundred Rabbits! Fast forward to the present day and without alcohol and fermentation, we wouldn’t have beer or pizza, hence the restaurant was named in honour of the Four Hundred Rabbits.
Catching up with friends and discovering new beers
What to eat…
Check out the specials board for adventurous toppings
What to know…
Ask the staff to help match your pizza with your beer