04 February 2015
It’s not easy to review a venue having only experienced one course during a lunchtime sitting.
Or should I say, it would very difficult to criticise a restaurant where you have only experienced one course. Fortunately, the experience - though a little on the slender side - was a pleasure and left me wanting more.
Funny ideas shoot through your head when you are asked to meet at a place called ‘Caravan’.
Summer holidays in Pontins as a child - fortunately these were minimal and only once in my formative years did I experience the sound of a man urinating up the side of my tent having stumbled out of Camber Sands’ premier Cabaret event.
Of course Caravans are also synonymous with travellers, both the ones who manage to flip their mobile vacation unit on the M2, causing everyone delays getting home on a Friday night, and those featured in films starring Brad Pitt.
But Caravan at King’s Cross certainly doesn’t fall into either of those categories, in fact it is a restaurant, set in the reclaimed and refurbished Granary Square building that also houses specialist tea shop Yum Chaa, as well as eateries Dishoom and the much talked about Grain Store.
The very large, open-plan room, which has something of a Victorian workhouse feel about it, is incredibly deceptive, as the close knit tables allow a cacophony of trendy atmospheric buzz to permeate the room. Posh words innit.
There are plenty of ponytails with beards, but also the suited and booted are in force to sample the delights of the Breakfast, Brunch and All Day menus during their networking business meetings. One of which I am on.
The first thing to notice about both the drinks and the brunch menu is the absolute dedication to the alternative.
And while I googled what many of the ingredients are, my two female accomplices chose from the small plates selection which includes Kohlrabi, fennel, lemon balm, walnuts, chardonnay vinaigrette (£5); Nardin anchovies, palm heart brandade, crisp bread (£6); and crispy soft shell crab, red lentil dahl, tomato kasundi, yoghurt (£9).
There are too many weird and inventively blended creations to mention, so see the menu pic.
The waiter, who was very attentive in between mirror selfie checks, was “not working on commission” and suggested a small plate each with a side of rocket salad (£3.50) between them should be enough.
On arrival the ladies weren’t happy and considered ordering a further plate but instead decided to take it easy, it is still January to be fair.
As well as large plates, the restaurant also offers a delightful array of pizzas, from which I took on the Wiltshire honey roasted ham, braised leeks, taleggio, thyme (£11).
Served with a garnish plate with chillies, herbs and oils the thin crust pizza was beautifully cooked and covered in the sweet but smokey ham and creamy, melted taleggio cheese without a drop of tomato puree in sight.
Crispy without being dry, it was a seriously good pizza from a restaurant that doesn’t exactly shout about its pizza-making capabilities.
While water was already on the table, gratis, the drinks selection again tends to cater for the alternative, not a surprise giving the restaurant’s proximity to one of Central St Martin’s main art campuses.
Glero prosecco on tap and Hells Lager from the Camden Brewery on tap both made a stop at our table while the menu also features an cocktail list – both non alcoholic for business lunches (who are we kidding?) – and alcoholic ones as well.
Down the side of the restaurant is a pretty intense looking kitchen while there is also a large bar and roastary area where Caravan makes and sells its own coffee.
My short visit definitely enticed me to want to go again for an evening visit. The service was good, the food was on point and the atmosphere was deliciously buzzy.
Though there were pockets of everyday folk, there were, of course the legion of hipsters, but a more mature breed who now realize that they probably need to stop wearing wellies and dungarees and go and get a real job. So a real positive vibe with out being pretentious.
But I still don’t have a clue why they call it Caravan.