What do I need to know?
Following on from the hugely popular Exmouth Market and Kings Cross venues, Caravan has opened a third restaurant, south of the river. The expansive dining room, cocktail/coffee bar and open kitchen has kept the industrial feel of the original building (a metal box factory) injected with the same, pared-down style as the original locations. The menu will also be familiar, including its house-made cheese, meats, sodas and coffee.
Where will I find it?
In thriving Bankside, along the road from Hixter which has occupied the same development for a couple of years now. Come at it from London Bridge or Southwark tube stations.
Where can I meet friends for a drink first?
You’re just down the road from Borough Market, surrounded by wine bars and pubs, depending on the kind of atmosphere you’re after.Alternatively, start on Caravan’s cocktail list (£7-£9 each) which calls on a mix of spirits and botanicals as well as seasonal choices like a bellini with blackcurrant and pomegranate. They also produce their own tonics in-house, served with a selection of gins.
Where’s the best place to sit?
There’s a row of high tables alongside the bar with a good buzz, but these are kept for walk-in diners. For larger groups, banquette seating by the windows is spacious and more sociable.
What can I expect from the food?
Caravan is best known for its weekend brunch (and the accompanying queues) but the evening menu provides a great selection of snacks, small plates, cheese and charcuterie boards which are perfect for group dining - and include a number of interesting veggie options.
You can start your meal with a few nibbles and then move on to the larger dishes or pizzas (which are also topped with the restaurant’s charcuterie and cheeses) or, if you’re finding it too hard to choose, simply take your pick from across the menu and get stuck in.
We filled the table with:
- Potato bread and lemon thyme butter (£3.50)
- Jamon and smoked san simon croquettes with saffron mayonnaise (£7.50)
- Pork and chinese chive pot stickers (£7.50)
- Baby squid with new potatoes, meyer lemon, capers and parsley (£9)
- Elwy valley lamb cutlets withchermoula (£5 each)
- Pizza with nduja, cavolonero, robiola, tomato and parmesan (£12)
They describe the menu as ‘well-travelled’ and it’s no hardship to be faced with such variety, but what every dish had in common was top quality produce and strong, fresh flavours.
We couldn’t leave without sampling the coffee, but in the form of an affogato-style dessert: vanilla ice cream covered with Caravan’s market blend espresso and a salt-caramel sauce (£5) which was utterly divine.
And what’s on the wine list?
Like the food, the wine list spans the globe – French Vermentino, Rioja Tempranillo, andMartinborough Pinot Noir to name just a few from a reasonably lengthy list. Pricesrange from £5-£10 for a glass, and £20-£65 for bottles.
It’s worth dismissing the morning queues and booking a table to sample Caravan’s diverse dinner offering. A great choice for lengthy meals with friends where there’s sure to be plates to keep everyone happy. And you can still finish with a house-roasted coffee.
Caravan Bankside is at The Metal Box Factory, 30 Great Guildford Street, Bankside, London SE1 0HS. For more, follow them on Instagram @caravanrestaurants.
Hot Dinners were invited to Caravan. Prices are correct at the time of writing.