By Jackie Perrone
Photos by Sally Taylor
“Best. Reuben. Ever!”
“Whole Wheat Belgian Waffle – to die for!”
“Fresh-made Be-Well Vegetable Soup; you’ll never taste any better.”
The enthusiastic eaters at Momma Rabbit’s try to outdo one another with rave notices. They’re lined up at the door for the 11am opening, planning for a favorite special or anticipating a new-to-the-menu surprise. And the Allen family, seven brothers and a sister, have pooled their talents and expertise to see that these expectations are met. Whole foods at their best; that’s the goal at Momma Rabbit’s.
The story behind this Lexington enterprise involves more than a funny name. Will, Sarah Grace, Spencer, James, Webb, John, George and Richard Allen share a way of life which has led them through this food journey. They grew up in the Irmo area on a property of nine acres, just enough land to accommodate an agrarian lifestyle. Being homeschooled meant they were in-house most of the time, and eight children learned from an early age that livestock and vegetable gardens required dedication from everyone. Their mother, Mandy Allen, puts it this way:
“It’s not news to us that success involves hard work. It was important to us all to make things work, and even little children share in the necessary chores. It may be freezing cold outside, you may have the flu or a thousand other things to do, but farming can’t be put off or ignored. These children know how to work.”
The Momma Rabbit of the clan was Mandy’s mother, who acquired the nickname from her large family. When she died a few years ago, her grandchildren found themselves with a modest inheritance which they knew could accomplish more together than separately. The two eldest, Will and Sarah Grace, led the way with their degrees in culinary skills from the University of South Carolina. The restaurant business was a magnet to all, and in December 2014 eight Allens bought the Everyday Gourmet café at McCauley Square on Highway 378 in Lexington.
For 12 months they honed their restaurant skills there, and in January, 2016, after a full-scale renovation, the Everyday Café became Momma Rabbit’s, a tribute to the grandmother whose contributions kick-started the whole thing. Allen family creativity takes several forms; two of the siblings participate in the Newberry Ballet, and their multi-talented dance teacher headed up the interior design, along with graphic-arts contributions from her husband. An eclectic collection of old photographs and posters includes some photography pieces done by Sarah Grace alongside vintage pictures of old-time movie stars. Lighting includes pendant lights made from gourds – another nod to the farming background.
The walls display a barn-siding style, and antique pottery and kitchenware add their flavor around the smallish room.
A sitting area with comfy chairs and a fireplace lend a homey touch where diners can wait for a table. A full-service bar helps with the wait; two specialties at Momma Rabbit’s are a Strawberry Mimosa, and a Watermelon Limeade Mimosa. Even your alcohol comes with fresh fruit flavor.
Those Mimosas shine during the popular Saturday and Sunday Brunch periods. The Allens have refined traditional Brunch dishes to feature locally-grown fruits, hand-ground whole wheat flour, freshly-ground coffee from their house blend, and a quiche with a cheese-grits crust: firm on the outside and fluffy inside, never soggy or limp or thick.
For dining in at M.R., how do these choices sound:
Sourdough panini, with ham, peaches, bacon, fig preserves, and goat cheese.
Capreze flatbread pizza.
House-smoked pulled pork tacos, with bleu cheese slaw.
Plum’s The Word! Ham, Havarti cheese, spinach, tangy Dijon mustard, and blueberry-plum jam.
That’s four of the many offerings on hand.
Momma Rabbit’s can be described as a full-service food destination. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Friday; brunch on weekends; catering; prepared meals and dishes for take-out, and plenty of choices for varied tastes. Mandy Allen says folks may come in for an appetizer and/or drink before heading out somewhere else for dinner. Or, they arrive for a later-evening treat, finishing off their night-out with a decadent dessert or nightcap.
Die-hard devotees see thoughtfulness along with the professionalism in every item at Momma Rabbit’s. Check out the “Home Suppers” offerings: each can be ordered in the right amount to serve three or two. Chicken pie and lasagna hold a place on the menu, along with jambalaya and bruschetta and about eight other mouth-waterers.
Want to make a caring gesture to a friend with a new baby, or surgical recovery, or a death in the family? Gorgeous platters of sandwiches, wraps, and veggie assortments are ready for you.
Having the meal itself is just one of the options. Snacks, nibbles, sips, -- everything at Momma Rabbit’s is an indulgence.
5082 Sunset Boulevard
Lexington SC 29072
T-F: 11am-3pm, 5:30pm-9pm
Sat: 10am-2pm, 5:30pm-9pm
In addition to dining in,
take-out and catering available