A hangover is a terrible thing. Whether it’s the sleep deprivation, thirsty synapses, or bitter swill of your stomach, there are only two things that I know to fix it.
One is a swim in the ocean. The other; a strapping breakfast.
There are no beaches worth mentioning in the spitting distance of London. Which brings us to Caravan.
It’s a restaurant, bar and coffee roastery on Exmouth Market. For those going to see a show at Sadler’s Wells, it’s a good walking distance.
For folks like us, enslaved to the northern line, it’s not in a hugely convenient location.
Yet everytime we wake up feeling particularly poisonous- this is where we head.
It’s an open space with large windows letting in light on two sides. There’s a bar at the front plus seating for 50 or so in a combination of banquettes and square bistro tables. Downstairs is a more private dining room- and the roastery.
The coffee here is good. Very good. In my top four in London good. The beans are single origin, gathered from all around the world. They’re done every day in their Probat roaster. Occasionally while eating you’ll notice a hum and smell of caramel wafting upstairs. It’s a harbinger of a hangover’s demise.
Brunch is served on the weekend from 10 am – 4pm. It boasts all the things Australians like. Like avocado. A proper brunch out involves avocado. It might have started with Bill Granger’s avocado salsa on his corn fritters. It might be about how well avocado slows an egg yolk when it splits like sunrise. Or it might just be that avocado and toast (with an appropriate amount of salt and pepper) is one of the most life sustaining substances around (see here for further evidence).
At Caravan you can have hunks of toasted sourdough or grain toast with avocado, olive oil and chilli flakes for £4.50. You can also get a swathe of other options propped up on toast; from cheddar and caramelised onion jam to slow roasted tomatoes.
But if you’re feeling as dusty as we are (the curses of drinking in a palindrome struck again*) then you’re going to want some eggs.
A Caravan fry up of two eggs, bacon, roast tomatoes, mushrooms made salty through soy, becomes more of a salvation with a side of their chilli beans.
My usual order is involves eggs loaning extra ballast to cornbread, transforming it into French toast. It’s a jangling combination of cultures; a road trip on a plate- from the South Western twang of corn bread to the Canadian sensibilities of bacon with maple syrup- this then is tweaked further with a hum of smoked paprika.
The avocado on top is a gilding of a very pretty lily.
The Hungry One firmly believes a dessert course at breakfast should be more widely appreciated. I think he’s contemplating a campaign to remedy this . And his key image may well be Caravan’s coconut bread with lemon curd cream cheese and berries.
Caravan has only been open for 18 months, but it feels like an old timer. The service is swift and charming (though if you come past 10.30 am you may need to queue).
After two courses of breakfast and two or more coffees of this kind of quality, you should be ready to take on anything.
If it was down the road, I’d go every weekend. We probably don’t go often enough.
But considering the circumstances driving our visits; – if only for the sake of my liver- maybe we do.
* The perils of drinking in a palindrome; drinking in a sequence that goes forward and then backwards. If you begin with champagne and then move to white wine, returning to champagne is going to hurt. Greater and more painful examples include commencing with martinis, moving to champagne, then red wine, then back to champagne and then closing with a martini. That is the way to the dark side. Theory taught to me by friends much wiser than me.
(020) 7833 8115
11-13 Exmouth Market
London, UK EC1R 4