Daily Archives: 8 June 2010

On Location: Caravan (Clerkenwell, London)

This weekend, there were a few friends staying (Swedish, Belgian and British), so the house has been pretty full. I collected the first of the houseguests on Friday afternoon, and we headed to Exmouth Market, which is located between King’s Cross, Angel and Farringdon. The street is pedestrianised, which lends itself to lots of tables on the pavement without cars whizzing by, and has a great mixture of restaurants.

The jewel in the crown is the award-winning Moro (booking essential, well ahead of time), but there are also Indian, Middle Eastern and Italian restaurants, as well as a few places for informal dining. If you’re looking for an area that’s very London and has its own unique charm, this really is a good neighbourhood to check out. If you’re up for a few drinks after dinner, try the shabby-chic Belgian-feel of Medcalf, or play table football and enjoy mojitos at Café Kick.

But today’s feature is the new kid on the block – Caravan, which we stumbled upon by chance. The afternoon was hot and sunny, and I had collected my first Swedish visitor. We wanted to sit outside and drink something sparking, we saw Caravan, and it had space. So we went for it, and took a bottle of the rather good house prosecco. At this stage, a little warning – the larger outside tables are communal, so if there are spaces, you’ll find yourself next to arty young things reading something clever (or in our experience, amusingly pretentious). It’s quite fun, but if it all gets too much, just manoeuver the large vase of meadow flowers between them and you. But if you like to eavesdrop on your fellow fellow drinkers/diners, then outside at Caravan is just the perfect for it.

Maybe it was all that sun, but we loved Caravan. Prosecco in hand, we started with a sharing platter, which the chef helpfully converted to a veggie friendly option – pita, aubergine relish, falafel, hummus, manchego cheese and pickled carrot with cumin. I thought it was all delicious – the falafel was hot and crisp, but moist inside, and the pickled carrot was great. Bright orange, still firm and vibrantly seasoned. I particularly liked that I was not just faced with yet another selection of dips.

After a bit more chatting and prosecco and now with a second Swede at the table, we ordered the edamame beans and some blue cheese peanut wontons. The beans were as you expect (blanched and topped with salt crystals), and were a fun snack with the prosecco. Maybe I am very sheltered, but I don’t usually see these beans outside of Asian-inspired establishments, so this was good little combination for me.

The wontons were picture-perfect. Beautifully formed, crisp and golden. And there were four of them, so we could all try one! Blue cheese might seem a bit odd, but they were tasty and interesting. The blue cheese was the main flavour at the start of each bite, but this gave way to the richness and creaminess of the peanut, with an overall result a little like satay sauce. Surprising, and something I would happily have again.

Would I go back? Definitely. This is a welcome addition to Exmouth Market. There is only one veggie main, but from chatting with the (friendly!) waiter, he suggested that they recommend combining a range of their smaller plates, and from the 14 on offer, 5 were indeed veggie, so it certainly looks promising for my next visit. The food works the fusion idea without being too wacky, and suggests that a bit of thought went into the menu. The snacks/starters were excellent, and the desserts look creative and appealing. They also have a nice-looking breakfast and weekend brunch selection which I feel I may have to try in the near future. It seems caravans are, after all, rather cool.

Caravan, 11-13 Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QD. Tel: 020 7833 8115. Tube: Angel or Farringdon.


Filed under London, On Location