It feels like it’s been a long month. The dark nights are drawing in, the cold weather is slowly making a reappearance, and we’re trying and decide whether or not to put our heating on. To combat this we decided to take a trip back in time and to warmer climes and visit The Rabbit Hole in Durham.

Passers-by would be forgiven for simply walking past what could be mistaken for a residential home or shop, but those who know, know that they’re missing out on a hidden gem.

Accessible only through a secret speakeasy side door in a tiny alley off Halgarth Street, guests to The Rabbit Hole are transported to another era when they step inside.

The Rabbit Hole has been highly recommended by many of our friends who live in Durham and the first time we tried to visit we were confused by the secret nature in which you enter the restaurant, but after hearing it had a revamp and succumbing to the inevitable FOMO we decided to ring the doorbell to the building and give it a try!

Subscribe to The Northern Echo for only £3 for 3 months in our limited-time flash sale and receive more exclusive food reviews and more.

Prepare to be transported to a whimsical world of wonder and enchanting ambience as you enter the 1920s-inspired supper club full of hidden passages and bars. The niche fusion of 1920s speakeasy and traditional oriental cuisine will excite your senses and you’ll find yourself mesmerised by the décor and knick-knacks that adorn the restaurant.

I somehow managed to refrain from looking at the menu beforehand so the menu was a total surprise for once- and what a menu it was. Literally and figuratively. The Rabbit Hole is quite dimly lit, but they accounted for it with some fantastic LED menus. Maybe we just don’t get out a lot, but this concept impressed us.

The problem with not looking at the menu beforehand is that being indecisive, it took me a while to settle on what I wanted to eat. After agonising over the extensive menu, which is perfectly catered for vegetarians, vegans and even people who are gluten-free, I decided what I was going for. I chose a starter of the hot & sour duck soup, which was delightful.

The spices were perfectly balanced with green chillies offering an occasional kick of heat, and the duck was tender and succulent. The tone of my journey through the taste of China was set.

The Northern Echo: The Rabbit Hole: Durham

Call me basic, but looking through the menu on the evening, the dish that delved into my brain and wouldn’t leave was the Chinese chicken curry. I’m a huge lover of any curry, but the sweetness of a Chinese curry and the addition of five spice and peas just wins a place in my heart.

Sticking to my basic tradition I opted for egg fried rice to accompany my curry. When our mains arrived, I was practically salivating. The sweet aroma of Chinese spices filled the air, and I couldn’t wait to tuck in, I was not disappointed.

The Northern Echo: The Rabbit Hole: Durham

The curry sauce was perfect, exactly what I had built it up to be in my head. Thick without being too thick, the ratio of sauce to chicken being absolutely spot on, and my favourite crunchy garden peas cutting through the succulence of the other elements. Writing this now I could go back and eat it all over again!

The egg-fried rice was flawless, which is a rarity for rice dishes in my opinion. I can honestly say I have never wolfed a meal down so quickly.

Then came the dessert menu. I wouldn’t usually eat a dessert being a savoury lover, but I’d also never tried a Cantonese dessert so I couldn’t resist.

We shared custard-filled bao buns and banana wontons, both dishes came with a side of vanilla ice cream. The steamed bao buns were soft and fluffy with a sweet custard filling and the banana wontons were perfectly ‘banana-ful’ with a chilli chocolate sauce that cut through any denseness of the pastry and banana.

Even the paper the buns were served on was edible! Admittedly it took me a while to get my head around that one. Whilst I probably wouldn’t get a dessert again, it was a lovely end to a fantastic meal and I was left feeling full to the brim.

The Northern Echo: The Rabbit Hole: Durham

As well as an extensive food menu, The Rabbit Hole also boasts an extensive drinks menu aptly nicknamed ‘Giggle Water’. From signature cocktails to wines, beers and soft drinks, there’s something to cater for everyone’s tastes.

As the designated driver for the evening, I decided to sample one of the many mocktails offered by the restaurant, and being the 90s kid that I am, as soon as I saw Um Bongo on the menu, I knew I had to try it. As it transpires, Um Bongo can not only be found in the Congo (if you remember the advert, you know this reference) but right in the heart of Durham, and with a grown-up touch!

The Northern Echo: The Rabbit Hole: Durham

The staff were friendly and attentive from the moment you walked through the door to leaving, nothing was too much trouble. Their effort to accommodate dietary preferences is not only apparent on their menu but also shines through in the staff. Their warm welcome reflects the warm and pleasant atmosphere of the restaurant, and the service was second to none.

The prices fall into the mid-range category, which is reflected in the quality of food and the surroundings. The portions are generous for the pricing and as we were leaving, we commented on how it would be “the perfect place to take someone who had never tried Cantonese food before”.

If you’re in Durham and you find yourself wanting to dine somewhere a little bit different, then The Rabbit Hole is not to be missed. It is a quirky stand-out gem nestled in the city just waiting to surprise you.

The Details:

17 Hallgarth Street



0191 386 5556


Service: 9

Surroundings: 10

Food Quality: 8

Value for money: 8