As illustrated in our Bitches City Guide to East London, I recently ate and imbibed myself through London and loved every minute of it. My boyfriend Andrew and I headed across the pond to visit our friend Mark who lives in the quaint Islington neighborhood, known for a large concentration of expats and young families.
Exmouth Market, an open-air strip of darling restaurants and boutiques, is a few blocks from his flat and is his go-to spot for a quality bite and pints at the local. Naturally, we headed here for a great brunch before a fun-filled day exploring the Colombia Road flower market, London Fields brewery, and walking through Shoreditch.
We brunched at Caravan, a low-key, Australian-owned coffee roastery and café. The basement is coverted into a working coffee roastery and the establishment prides itself on daily small batch, single origin roasts. I was immediately attracted to the open windows, great typography, and trendy flat white sipping crowd.
We had about thirty minutes to kill with the requisite weekend wait so we hunkered up at the bar to try some of the acclaimed beverages. We all ordered coffee, which was served with a slow drip and filter. It took awhile to brew, but the somewhat complex process was worth the wait.
We were admittedly a little banged up from a long night out in Dalston and required as many beverages as possible to get back on our feet. Mark and I each had a fresh pressed carrot and ginger juice, which was refreshing with a faint zip of ginger.
The boys also went the Bloody route and requested their cocktails to be served extra spicy. Similarly to the juice, the Bloody mix was clearly homemade and tasty. They appreciated that the bartender was heavy on the pepper and strong on the vodka pour. I ordered a bellini with fresh pear puree and bubbles. The pear puree added a touch of sweetness, but it wasn’t over the top.
The brunch menu is inspired by travels all over the work and incorporates seasonal ingredients with global flavors. There were plenty of menu items that we were familiar with such as avocado toast and French toast, but we had to slyly Google unfamiliar terms like “streaky bacon” and “black pudding.”
Andrew came to brunch with an appetite and an urge to try local favorites so he selected the Caravan fry, which consisted of eggs any style, streaky bacon, slow roasted tomatoes, and thyme roasted portobello mushrooms. A fry is basically a full English breakfast with the works and this entree spared no expenses. The crisp bread, juicy bacon, and perfectly poached eggs were the highlights of this main course.
I have a weird propensity towards ordering fishy food during brunch so it was to no one’s surprise when I selected the house cured salmon and scrambled eggs on grain toast. This dish was simple yet well executed with quality, local ingredients and outstanding fish. The salmon added some much needed protein that kept me full well into the afternoon.
Mark was intrigued by Caravan’s unique take on French toast. Its version is created with cornbread as a base and piled high with bacon, rocket or arugula as we call it stateside, and avocado. I stole some bites and deemed this my favorite entree. The savory French toast was both salty and sweet with a rich creaminess from the avocado. Plus, everything is better with avocado.
I appreciated that the main dishes spoke for themselves and didn’t require sides or excessive garnishes, as we’re accustomed to in America. We departed with full stomachs and plenty of energy to fuel our day, but we weren’t weighed down by gluttonous portion sizes. Brunch at Caravan was the perfect way to get a feel for Mark’s Islington borough and a great start to our weekend in London.
The Bitches say: A. A trendy vibe and solid food, although a tad pretentious about the coffee. This is a great low key option in the neighborhood to feel like a local.
11-13 Exmouth Market
London EC1R 4QD, United Kingdom
+44 20 7833 8115