Food & Drink
Housed in an architectural landmark on Duke Of York Square, the latest outpost from the Kiwi cabal behind upscale all-day grazing is an instant classic
In a nutshell: Caravan goes west. Ten years since opening on Exmouth Market, Caravan, the most approachable of the Kiwi cabal of grazing restaurants that comprised The Providores and The Modern Pantry, has continued to circumnavigate London’s hipster hubs (Kings Cross, Bankside and Fitzrovia all followed) while perfecting founders Laura Harper-Hinton, Chris Ammermann and Miles Kirby's easy-going take on all-day dining (with great coffee). Now they’ve ventured to the Royal Borough Of Kensington And Chelsea to take advantage of a brand-new landmark space on Duke Of York Square. The three-storey rotunda (with public access to its rooftop) comes with fully retractable floor-to-ceiling windows to make good on the al fresco opportunities afforded by its surroundings (the Saatchi Gallery is next door).
“Resistance is futile”-grade array of appetising platters (designed to be shared), starting with a formidable meze board (Garam masala labneh, fenugreek chilli butter, spiced chickpeas and house flatbread, £7.50) to be followed with large-ish serves of crispy fried sea bass (£29) and spicy pulled lamb shoulder (£22). In between, there are grain bowls aplenty and pizzas that are gloopily juicy on top, superbly crisp beneath and generously proportioned. The all-day menu packs a considerable Med-rim punch, but don’t miss out on breakfast (served from 7.30am-12pm) offering green baked eggs (with spinach, yoghurt and refried frijoles negros) and “The Full Vardo” – an English breakfast with an All Black’s appetite in mind.
Despite the name change (a condition of the hard-won lease; Vardo is Romani for Caravan), this is the cool, contemporary cuisine on which Caravan has built its considerable reputation. The venue is sufficiently striking that existing fans of its relaxed vibe willing to travel will have to contend with a whole new audience for Caravan’s convivial oeuvre, as les toutes Chelsea descend on the latest neighbourhood “must-do” for a taste of its “Caprice for black-collar workers” vibe.