01 September 2017

The Caffeine Chronicles: Caravan Bankside

Since Caravan opened its second site five years ago in Granary Square, a five-minute walk from my desk, I've regularly enjoyed breakfasts, lunches, dinners and especially coffee breaks there. But as I'm rarely in King's Cross at the weekend, I've never been for brunch. When Caravan opened its third branch in Bankside (a little closer to home) last year, I looked forward to righting this wrong but it took me longer than I'd hoped.

I finally took the opportunity to visit Caravan Bankside on a rare bank holiday weekend in London. The restaurant occupies a large, industrial-chic space on Great Guildford Street, just south of the Tate Modern and the Globe, and just around the corner from one of my favourite London signs.

The restaurant is beautifully designed with plenty of seating, from the tables with comfortable bench seating that traverse the main dining room, smaller tables next to the huge warehouse-style windows that let the sun stream in, and bar stools for perching (or if it's busy and you haven't booked a table). It wasn't too busy when I arrived, a little bit before peak brunch hours and I took a table in the centre. All Saints' Pure Shores was playing on the sound system and there was a fun but relaxed ambiance.

Before I got to grips with the extensive brunch menu, I asked for the coffee menu, but this in itself required quite some consideration. There were three espressos on offer (house, guest and decaf) and seven single-origin filter coffees, available brewed through the Aeropress or Kalita Wave, all roasted in Caravan's King's Cross HQ. I've been on a bit of an Ethiopian coffee kick lately (I blame the unseasonably warm weather in London, which has since dissipated) and the Deri Kochoha washed coffee sounded lovely, so I ordered it as a Kalita pourover.

The coffee didn't disappoint — Caravan coffee rarely does. The gorgeous floral and black-tea notes of the Deri Kochoha came through beautifully, particularly as the coffee cooled. The presentation was as spot-on as always too with a rather lovely ceramic cup and the usual scientific flask serving as a carafe.

After flipping and flopping among several of the brunch menu options, I eventually settled on the avocado toast with a poached egg. So far, so standard...except that my subconscious had other plans and I ended up ordering my second choice, the red quinoa and buckwheat grain bowl with sweet potato, tenderstem broccoli and soft-boiled egg in a miso-tahini dressing (£10). And my accidental order turned out to be a great success. (I'm sure the avocado toast would also have been great but even I like to diversify my brunch portfolio at times.) Combining various textures and flavours, the grain bowl was delicious and filling, keeping my hunger at bay until afternoon brunch at least. The toasts and granola/yoghurt bowls are excellent smaller dishes if your appetite is still waking up.

The service was very good too — the wait staff were all friendly, welcoming and efficient. Meanwhile, Caravan will soon open its fourth restaurant at the Bloomberg Arcade in the City. I hope it won't take me another year to check out that one!

Caravan Bankside. 30 Great Guildford Street, London, SE1 0HS (Tube: Borough). Website. Twitter. Instagram.

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