“Let’s meet outside Caravan at 10am”, I texted my friend on the Saturday night before our first visit. 10am is when Caravan King’s Cross opens on Sundays, and yet when we got there, a line of Sunday brunchers was already waiting outside. The queue wasn’t too long; hardly anything to worry about, comparing to the long, dread-inducing lines I’ve noticed at other times of the day. Still, I wondered why those people had felt compelled to come so early to secure a table.
It took as little as one bite into my breakfast of choice to understand. Always partial to sweet snacks over savoury brunches, I ordered a slice of pistachio and peach tart that tasted like something out of a dream: rich in flavour and marvellously buttery. Far more buttery than I can afford, but who cares: as the Latin saying goes, “semel in anno licet insanire” (“once in a year one is allowed to go crazy” – only that it’s more like once a day for me). Caravan’s much celebrated coffee was the unexpected lowlight of my morning; an experience I would recall months later, when I first visited Workshop in Farringdon (where coffee tasted too aggressively bitter for my buds, much in the same way as Caravan’s).
More than one year after that visit, and many failed plans to return later, I finally managed to eat at Caravan again. I went with two colleagues, back from a meeting and on our way to another. We were sat at a sharing table within a couple of minutes of entering; a stroke of luck, for the place was packed and we hadn’t booked in advance. Being my office’s resident food authority, I didn’t have to battle to convince my colleagues to head to Caravan: all it took was the vague promise that the food was nice, and there would be wi-fi. That’s not to say I would encourage you to go there to get some work done, or book a table for a business lunch. In fact, I don’t. Caravan is made for leisurely, indulgent meals with your friends or family; with our buzzing laptops and fingers tapping manically on keyboards, we were the discordant note among a relaxed, informal clientele, of which all throughout my meal I wished I could be part (ah, the vain hope of having a Friday off work!).
The short window of time we had pressured me into choosing my food quickly, and I’m glad for that, as I could have spent an entire half hour perusing the menu. Caravan’s “small plates” selection offers an interesting pairing of soft shell crab and lentil dahl; “large plates” include potato gnocchi with wild mushrooms and Jerusalem artichoke cream. After long minutes of indecision, I trusted my first instinct, and went for pizza. Not a decision a native Italian with impossibly high standards takes lightheartedly, but sod it – the combination of provolone cheese, artichokes, new potatoes and rosemary sounded too good to say no to. And good it was, too. The dough was well cooked through, spread into a massive circle that brimmed over my plate; no match to the sourdough base you’d find at the likes of Franco Manca, or the thick, chewy crust that marks true Neapolitan pizza, but still the finest among the “non-authentic” pizzas I’ve had in London so far. Cheese oozed from all corners, with the delicate notes of artichokes and potatoes matching its smoky flavour perfectly. I didn’t taste much of the truffle oil, which felt about right, as one drop too many can turn a well balanced dish into overkill.
My meal was a rich, filling one, which I loved from the first to the last bite. Caravan was the beauty I remembered, and I can’t wait for a chance to visit again. I’ll leave my computer at home, though – I can think of many better lunch companions than my dreary work email inbox.
Caravan King’s Cross
1 Granary Square
London, N1C 4AA
(nearest tube station: King’s Cross St Pancras)Open 8.30am – 10pm Monday – Tuesday; 8am – 11pm Wednesday – Thursday; 8am – 12am Friday – Saturday; 10am – 4pm Sunday
020 7101 7661
See the menu on Zomato