Caravan, like Lantana, became a causuality of my slackness as a blogger last year, there were so many places I enjoyed maybe a little too much to ever get around to writing about. So, just as when Lantana anounced their sister branch, Salvation Janes launch, I’d been anxious to visit the new Caravan as soon as I caught wind of it’s impending opening. The original Exmouth Market location has long earned itself a reputation as a brunch destination, with iconic dishes such as the baked eggs offering hangover sustenance, along with on site roasted coffee and a tempting cocktail list. I have fond memories of the coconut bread with strawberries & lemon curd cream cheese, and the corn bread french toast with bacon and avocado. I may not have blogged it but did write a piece last year for The Foodie Bugle on chocolatier Paul A Young and his succesful collaboration with Caravan.
The new Caravan is set just behind Kings Cross Station in an interesting development that is also home to Shrimpy’s and various Eat Street traders. Frustratingly Google maps dosen’t recognise the location ‘Granary Square’ and the postcode sends me way up York Way where I find myself wandering for 15 minutes before admiting defeat and calling my friend in desperation. When I finally find the square, I’m torn between dashing to meet my friends and loitering, mesmerised by a grid of fountains that spurt and undulate in a never ending stream of patterns. I compromise and make a dash through the middle, arriving at the bar doused with cooling water sprinkles.
The space inside is impressive, grand, industrial with functional, utilitarian decor and bustling atmosphere. The dining room holds one long communual dining table flanked by many smaller tables on all sides. At the back is a circular bar that separates the main room from a section at the back that holds, at the moment, just the Probat roaster, twice the size as the one at Exmouth Market. A large communal dining room is planned to be added to that end space for some fascinating sounding evenings combining roasting and dining.
I order a filter coffee and a Negroni, yes both (spot the hangover), with both hitting the spot nicely. I struggle more with the food menu, which is a mix of classic and new dishes, mainly because my hungover body wants ALL OF IT. I manage to whittle my choices down to two then beg our waiter to help me decide. My salt beef bubble arrives as a fried disc stuffed with soft potato and abundent tender beef, delightfully chewy and crispy towards the edges, two poached eggs perch on top collapsing when speared into an oozing yolky mess below, mingling saucily with hollandaise and wilted spinach. It satisfies every craving I have at the time washed down with my potent cocktail.
My friend fares less well, her quickly made choice of chicken and waffle is served in a baffling manner, as a brick of reformed poultry with two hard waffles. Presumably intended to be a twist on that dish that seems to be popping up in various forms all over the place, my friend is still distressed with her giant bird finger rather than a beautifully cooked portion of buttermilk fried chicken. She says as much, and the offending dish is quickly removed from the bill with apologies.
I said I wanted everything didn’t I? Well we decide to share a third plate too, that of Jalapeno corn bread with fried eggs, beans and tomatillo, this is another winning dish of brunchy heartiness. Feeling stuffed now I can look slightly less forlornly at my sacrificed choice of corn and morcilla fritters with avocado and paprika creme fraiche but clearly it deserves a return visit. I’m hankering after a second cocktail; the cherry gimlet sounds lush, and I’m utterly seduced when a vision of pink kitch in a glass topped with a cherry is delivered to a girl next to us. It’s as delightful as it looks.
I’m treated to a selection of their current roasts, of which I’ve started on and am very much enjoying the Yirgocheffe. A bag of cascara, dried coffee cherries, intrigues me and I’m told to treat it as you would tea. I’ve recently had an excellent pallet cleanser infusion at Kaffeine where it was combined with earl grey, I’ve also been told it makes a great iced drink, so happy playing there.
The restaurant is predominently fantastic casual dining, there’s no denying their coffee credentials, but that seems to take a back seat to the undeniably brilliant food, a menu that I want to eat everything from, and a cocktail list that is equally as enticing. We went for a Saturday brunch but the all day menu looks incredible, with plenty of new and interesting things to try; I’m curious to try their pizzas and small plates, with of course more of those cocktails. It’s testament to the prevailing skills of the kitchen that I’m in no way put off by the strange chicken dish, I’m sure it was merely a blip and service was impecible.
And now I know where to find it, it’s an easy enough place to get back to, and return I certainly shall, probably often!