It’s hard to think it’s only just over 2 years since Caravan opened its doors at the end of Exmouth Market. The pared-down recycled look combined with a relaxed all day eating style has since become ubiquitous.
However laid back they may seem, the two operating owners have always been clear about their intentions. Chris Ammermann was originally from the Urban Caprice stable and Miles Kirby the Head Chef at Providores. Even with such expertise, it does not mean that success automatically follows. In their case, however, they were completely in tune with the zeitgeist, and consistently full from day one.
Roasting coffee was always part of their plan. The Antipodean independent coffee movement in London was already well established by the time they opened, but Chris and Miles took it to a new level, installing a second hand Probat roaster in the basement, so they could produce bean to cup on their premises, as well as supplying other restaurants.
For the last year St Martins College of Art has managed to function in the now refurbished Granary Building at the back of Kings Cross station, with access only by bridges over the building site that has become Granary Square. Four weeks ago the rubble evaporated and the fountains were switched on, perhaps in anticipation of the opening of Caravan’s second venture? 10 days ago, on one of the warm opening nights, small children were splashing delightedly in the water. It was a magical approach to the entrance.
This time the premises is large, very large. And a beautifully proportioned space. The recycled style is still in evidence, with industrial lights and furniture. The open kitchen sits down one side, and is blessed with the same high ceiling as the main body, good for surplus heat to escape. It is cleverly set behind accessible grilles, which create just enough of a barrier. At the far end, a gleaming new Probat roaster crouches ready for action.
With the same all day eating format, the menu has grown up into the likes of Portland pearl oysters with bloody Mary jelly, and a striploin of Wagyu beef from the New Zealand producer Firstlight, with horseradish, parsnip and chard at a reasonable £15. We chose a number of small plates, which included Summerhimu blue cheese with fig, vincotto and truffle oil. This Swiss cheese (translated as Summer Sky) was a revelation. Another choice was a mackerel fillet paired with avocado, corn and coriander salsa. And the ox tongue with mustard, honey and beetroot. All perfectly balanced.
Into this eclectic mix is thrown a small range of pizzas. Come the Autumn term, there will doubtless also be a steady stream of cool art students, streaming in through the back door, ready to gobble them up.
Caravan Kings Cross
Unit 2 Granary Building
1 Granary Square
London N1C 4AA
Tel: 020 7101 7661