White Rabbit is my favourite place in the Kensington/Flemington/inner-north-west/whatever area. Hell, it’s one of my favourite places ever. I say “place” rather than, say, “cafe”, as it’s really a lot of things. It can be what you want it to be: a meeting-place for after-work drinks to a good soundtrack, a dispensary of hangover-curing weekend brunch or simply just a chill spot to read a book and get through a pot or three of rosehip tea.
White Rabbit is part bar, part cafe and part record store. It’s open all day Wednesday to Sunday, with closing times varying from 6pm to 11pm, depending on the day of the week and time of year. The long opening hours mean that you can come in (practically) any time of the day for a coffee, a bite to eat, a beer or a glass of wine. The food menu has also expanded in the past year to include tapas-style sharing meals suitable for lunch or dinner (huevos rancheros for breakfast is still my favourite, however). The staff are also super friendly, which is a major plus in my eyes, particularly in the inner suburbs (where there is sometimes a tendency for staff to adopt a “hipper-than-thou” attitude).
Music is also a major focus, as the last two words in the establishment’s title may suggest. White Rabbit has a large collection of vinyls of various genres (from jazz to rock to novelty albums), as well as CDs and even some tote bags made from repurposed vinyl covers. You can also count on the music being played to be of a consistently good quality (I spent an afternoon last week chilling out to Gorillaz’s Demon Days and reading American Psycho) and the staff might even put on a request or two if you ask nicely (no shit music please). The first Thursday of every month also features music trivia, which is good fun, even if you come dead last (like I did one time).
If I had to say something negative about White Rabbit, it would be that it’s closed Mondays and Tuesdays, which can be a disappointment when the start of the week has one yearning for a good beer and good music (even more so when you only remember what day of the week it is on arriving at the locked door). The coffee is also not as much of a focus as in many other inner-city cafes, but that’s hardly a complaint when faced with an excellent list of cocktails by the jug, beers and wines.