The white rabbit is a restaurant & bar housed in an awe-inspiring and beautifully restored old chapel located off the Dempsey area in Singapore. They serve a fresh take on both classic European comfort food and age-old coctails - all inspired by the past, while cleverly showcasing the present. A place where time stands still! The White Rabbit's Head Chef is Daniel Sia, who was most recently working with Chef Justin Quek at Le Platane in Shanghai. Prior to that, he had also run the kitchens of the Harvey Nichols restaurant in Hong Kong and Marmalade in Singapore
screenshot from the official White Rabbit's website
Retention of the simplicity and beauty of the abandoned church at Harding Road that was to become The White Rabbit was the starting point for the design team, Takenouchi Webb. Drawing inspiration from traditional British public school dining halls and church buildings, their primary goal was to restore as many of the existing details as possible. Their solution – by drawing a clear line between the old and new parts of the building through detaching the new elements away from the existing.
To that end, natural materials such as copper, steel, marble and timber, treated as raw as possible to complement the patina of the existing building were selected.
The design brief called for a single dining space and bar with an attached outdoor terrace for dining and drinking, and a refreshing, yet timeless design which complemented the dining concept of classic European comfort food.
The original ceiling soffit was replaced with identical panelling, the decorative steel window grilles restored and clear glass added to the openings. The original paintwork was matched and the mosaic floor cleaned and restored.
MAIN DINING SPACE
In the main dining hall space they retained the format of the original raised platform that housed a fibreglass baptism bath and decided to make this the bar area. A large double-sided dark marble counter that naturally separated the main dining area from the lounge bar space was added here. The different heights either side of the bar meant that guests could sit at the bar at the upper level looking out over the restaurant whilst the lower level could be used more for serving.
For the main dining areas the seating was differentiated into three areas, long communal tables with pew-like bench seating, plush grey semi-circular banquette seating contained within two oxidized steel containers either side of the main space, and at the far end a raised natural oak platform with high-backed shaker-inspired chairs.
The banquette seating, platform and bar were all detached from the existing building to clearly separate the old and new elements.
At either end of the space, new intricately designed stained glass windows, one primarily blue and the other red were installed. Asylum, an award winning Singapore design firm, designed these windows with a subtle King and Queen crown motif.
For the lighting, black metal geometric frames with exposed bulbs, echoing the grilles of the existing building, were suspended from each of the timber ceiling beams. A large copper halo with integrated spot-lighting was suspended above the serving bar and shaded lamps cantilevered over the banquette seating to lend a more intimate and “divine” atmosphere.
All the furniture was custom made and designed to convey a mix of the traditional, vintage and contemporary.
An additional covered area was created in the rear cloister of the space to make a small greenhouse conservatory-like dining area with folding glass doors, which completely open-up to the outdoor covered terrace.
OUTDOOR TERRACE AREA
The outdoor terrace, affectionally named, The Rabbit Hole, is a covered area with seating, an outdoor bar and access to the garden. The bar is clad in black and white mosaic tiles( with the Alice in wonderland referenced tongue-in-cheek message ‘Drink me’), the floor constructed of thick reclaimed timber slabs and the ceiling white painted timber slats. Beyond the timber deck is a paved lounge seating area below the trees with vintage white painted metal loungers.
Animal shaped topiaries litter the restaurant grounds, adding a touch of whim to the garden area.
Placed throughout the White Rabbit are vintage items collected from around Singapore and from the owners’ overseas travels to convey the historical sense of the project.