Caravan, London

Exmouth Market is a hive of activity, and the food stalls that line this pretty little street really help to define its place as a beacon for foodies. Stalls aside, Exmouth Market has plenty of independent shops and eateries dotted along either side, and these should by no means be neglected either.

At one end, with a glazed frontage along two sides, sits Caravan, prominent in its place within the market and setting a precedent for other establishments. They describe themselves as “relaxed, open and friendly” and I must say that all three points can be easily checked off. The interior is unfussy, with a mixture of white tiles, low hanging caged lights and dark wooden furniture. Simple black-framed photos are arranged jauntily on one white wall above a long sofa bench, which runs along two walls, and bar takes centre stage at the other side.

The openness, I guess, comes in two parts. The whole open feel of the restaurant, never overly-crowed and with plenty of natural light from the glass walls, but also from the staff, who are very laid-back (without being too so) and, on their last point, friendly as well.

Caravan’s brunch menu is second to none, with some interesting dishes, like belly pork kimchi pancakes and salt beef brisket hash, that proves that breakfast items are at the forefront of their minds when planning the list. However we are here on a lunch and the menu on offer is small plates – my favourite. We start with some blue cheese and peanut butter wontons, which are a deep-fried guilty pleasure, and jalapeño cornbread that is very well suited to the chipotle butter that accompanies it. I’m a huge lover of goats cheese, so can’t resist the molasses roasted beets with goat’s curd and onions, which for me is one of the highlights. Cauliflower isn’t something you’d always expect to love, but when expertly spiced and served with pomegranate yogurt, its delicious. The croquettes that we also pick might not be the most adventurous for us, but nevertheless are a classic that can’t not be loved.

It’s impossible to write a post about Caravan without mentioning their coffee. Roasted in the basement of this very restaurant are some of the finest beans you’ll ever drink. Well established in the world of coffee already, with their own range of coffee products, Caravan are experts in this field. A flat white, latte or cappuccino will only set you back  £2.80, which is a bargain for the quality you’re getting.

It’s not all-singing and all-dancing (which, let’s be honest, is rarely what you want from a restaurant), but Caravan is a fabulously cool spot for an understated dining experience at any time of day.

11-13 Exmouth Market

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