I recently wandered down the stairs to The Rabbit Hole to discover a mini-vegan wonderland. We didn't make reservations and the restaurant was hopping, so we nestled up to the bar for a variety of tasty small plates. Yes, we could have ordered dinner at the bar - though not obvious on the menu, after a quick conversation with your server you can easily order a vegan meal. But plenty of delectable vegan bites were at the bar, and that's just what we wanted.
You will notice on the menu a heart-shaped "V" indicating vegan, but this means one of two things: The item is vegan, or it can be made vegan. That's an important distinction because on our first take, the cauliflower ($10) arrived covered in Parmesan cheese. My mistake for assuming that because of the "V," it would come with vegan Parmesan. No problem. They whisked away the first plate and came back with a warm plate of toasted, truffle-infused cauliflower with peppers and onions. The serving is generous and easily shared.
For a more substantial small plate, try the arugula salad ($9) - hold the goat cheese and add tofu - and get ready because there is so much to savor in this small, verdant plate. While the tofu isn't a big contributor to the texture or taste (but, hey, loads of protein!), the use of arugula as the leafy green base is inspired. The peppery taste is a solid base for the plump dried cherries, crunchy candied pecans, and airy but rich green tea vinaigrette dressing.
From fresh to fried - come on, a little fat-filled food is fun - the requisite sweet potato waffle fries ($7) can scratch that comfort food itch. But I recommend diving into the wild Colorado mushrooms ($9) for a more complex morsel. The buffalo sauce, temperately spiced, is a creative vegan alternative to heavier creamy sauces. The base is cauliflower. Equally light, the use of tempura batter keeps this fried food from feeling heavy.
Our dinner of small bites at the bar most certainly included wine. Red zinfandel is always my default when I'm enjoying an assortment of flavor profiles, because it goes well with just about everything. Glasses of wine range from $6 to $16 (bottles $22 to $140) and beer from $4.50 to $8. The cocktail menu is whimsical, like the Alice in Wonderland themed Rabbit Hole, with a Mad Hatter Manhattan ($12) and Queen of Hearts Bloody Mary ($8).
'Tis the season for meeting friends after work for holiday gatherings and celebrations. Put The Rabbit Hole on your list for downtown romps. The flavorful plant-based bites are satisfying to vegans and non-vegans, and the portions make for satisfying noshing over drinks.