Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The Ranelagh Kitchen Diaries. Part 7: Caravan

Part seven of the Ranelagh Kitchen Diaries takes us on a journey to distant King's Cross and a pre-train dinner at Caravan... 

You will probably know this already, but Caravan, ironically, given the naff connotations, is a bit of a hip hangout next to the new St Martin's College building on Granary Square. It is just a short hop from King's Cross St Pancras and, thus, was chosen as the venue for a pre-bank holiday getaway dinner. It's firmly part of the urban regeneration that has rediscovered this formerly forgotten part of town and put it back on the map of 'civilised' London.

Mind you, the way things are going there won't be anywhere left that's uncivilised soon. It'll just be the District Line on Saturdays when Chelsea are at home and Hoxton Square on Saturday nights when the bridge and tunnel crowd are in town and up for a good time. 

Anyway, Caravan is a bit hip, in a New York, meat-packing district, exposed brick, open kitchen kind of a way. And as you might expect, given the ambience and location (close to the Grauniad's offices) there were plenty of media douchebags on offer: the type of middle aged guys with shaved heads, beards, expensive denim turned up at the ankle and chunky boots who have jobs like Chief Innovation Officer and Head of Digital Content Strategy. 

The menu is split into various sections and has disparate culinary influences: some burrata here, a spot of babaganoush there, some seabass ceviche for exiled Peruvians, chopped chicken livers for the Ashkenazi amongst us and a plate of grits for the hillbillies.

From this global arsenal of fine food, we ordered corn bread; some mahon cheese with a Pedro Ximenez (PX to those of us in the know) reduction; an heirloom tomato and chick-pea salad; and pizza with nduja and scarmorza. The scarmoza might have been smoked, I can't remember though - if so it was Marlborough Lights and not Regal Super Kings.

The mahon cheese was pleasant, as well made cheese tends to be, but too expensive at £5.50 for a mouse-sized portion. The cornbread was good in a cakey, corny kind of a way and they'd even included some real kernels of corn just to show that it really was cornbread and not some yellow dyed imposter. £4.50 for two small pieces had me clutching at my wallet though.

As pretty as it was, the tomato salad failed to make an impact: eating under-ripe tomatoes with a mound of mealy chick-peas of the type that emerge from a can of brine does not a pleasant experience make.

The pizza was better and generously apportioned with scarlet puddles of molten nduja and plenty of the scarmorza. The base wasn't up to much and reminded me slightly of those biscuity, pre-made ones you get from the supermarket, but that didn't matter too much with the quality of the topping. 

The savouries polished off and plenty of time until our train, VD further indulged her monster appetite with an affogato, which was, to quote, "very enjoyable". Indeed, my macchiato confirmed that the best thing about Caravan, apart from the relatively reasonable £4.50 for a pint of Camden Pale Ale, is probably the coffee. 

I enjoyed it more than any cup of the black stuff I can remember for a good while. That includes the flat white I had the other day at Kaffeine when the fire alarm went off at work and I had 15 minutes to kill trying not to get caught up in conversation with the office bores. 

What's the moral of this story then? Pizza, beer and coffee! Don't bother with anything else unless cost is no barrier to enjoyment and then fill your boots. I dare say you'll find more to like than not.

Caravan, 1 Granary Square, London, N1C 4AA

020 7101 7661

Open Monday to Saturday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sundays 10am - 4pm

No comments:

Post a Comment