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Cafe Review: Caravan in Exmouth Market

Caravan doesn’t need any more good reviews.  The world loves it.  It was already buzzing when we got there at the keeno time of 10:15am on a Saturday morning after a swim at Ironmonger Row.  What I find most interesting about Caravan and its antipodean ilk is what did people do on lazy Saturday and Sunday mornings before they arrived?  How did we survive without flat whites and Australian cafe food?

What most impressed me about Caravan was not the coffee (which was good but that isn’t too hard to find these days) or the food (I’ll come back to that) but the service.  It was there in spades.  The room was patrolled by two raven haired waitresses of not inconsiderable beauty who you could always catch the eye of.  Many places almost seem surprised by their success and the service turns to mush when they get busy; not Caravan. 

Caravan follows in the steps of Nude Espresso (review here) and has put a coffee bean roasting machine in its basement.  When the ventilation is sorted you will hopefully be able to see and smell it being run on a weekday (it is presently only up and running on Sundays).

So to the food.  It was good, and nearly a bit better than that.  The corn french toast Jen had was accurately cooked but needed a sweetness to lift it (like being drenched in maple syrup a la The Counter Cafe – review here).  I had the grilled ham with bubble and squeak topped with hollandiase sauce which I was quite a fan of.  Up until this point there was not much to pull me past The Modern Pantry and its elevated Antipodean fusion cuisine (review here).

Then came what I thought was the best dish which also had the beauty of being the simpliest.  A “boring” cheese on toast with some carmallised onions was elevated by the addition of cumin which made it addictively good.  This is hopefully a little hint of things to come and might mean that Caravan will not only be good but very good.

Price – £40 for two for brunch
 Caravan on Urbanspoon

9 Comments

  1. Surizzle

    I need to have the brunch! Dinner is very good – you two should check it out. In particular I recommend the blue cheese and peanut wontons, the spanish-type platter thingy (merguez and manchego, and amazing carrots!) and the battered squid! Delightful hummus too. Ate so much we stupidly didn't leave room for pudding. Our birdsnest-haired teenage waiter was not as beautiful as your servers sounded but impeccably good-humoured.

  2. Tom

    Hello little surizzle – I kind of forgot it does dinner as it is so perfectly a brunch place. My only thought is that it might all be a bit compressed table wise to allow for a relaxed dinner. But maybe its meant to be a squeezed in noisy affair for fairly moderate prices… Will be interested to find out

  3. Surizzle

    I was trying to keep my true identity mysterious but you are too clever for me tomeats! I agree that it does say brunch more than dinner – indeed, it used to be Big Al's before which was most definitely a polished up greasy spoon. You have a point with the spacing issue. We had quite a sizeable party and the waiters had to squeeze round our table. But it was a light-hearted "noisy affair" so we were happy. Not sure about our fellow customers…

  4. Tom

    Well I am a genius (or the first time I clicked on your name it took me to your facebook page).

    How would a west londoner like you know about big al's? However that was terrible and I am glad it is gone!

    We'll all have to go for dinner and annoy people.

  5. Surizzle

    Chuckle. I didn't know if you would see the "URL", which I then discovered I didn't need to enter at all. So I could have preserved my mystique, such as it is.

    Really a South-West Londoner. Even worse. A good friend lives very close to Exmouth Market so I was introduced me to the varying delights of Big Al's, the Gulshan Tandoori, Cafe Kick and the Eagle down the road, long ago.

    Yes, indeed! Irrit(e)ating. Awesome.

  6. Tom

    Haha – I might steal that one, irrit(e)eating. Genius.

  7. Surizzle

    Just to wrap this up, oh tall one, my little buddy and I visited at brunchtime over Easter (so in our worlds, we arrived at c.3pm) and had everything you and Jen had! Yum to the M-F yum. Too many caramelised onions on the cheese on toast but apart from that, I did enjoy everything. Especially the bubble and squeak! My little buddy informs me that you suggested the bean machine in the basement to them?!

    Surizzle x

  8. Tom

    Surizzle – I would love to pretend it was me who came up with the roaster but that was all them. I asked them whether they intended to start coffee classes and they said yes though…

  9. Surizzle

    Ah, lost in translation. Coffee classes sounds better than Know How breakfast!

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