It was the best of times (paprika cream and Ethiopian coffee with notes of jasmine.) It was the worst of times (rubbery cheese and tomatoes hard as apples.) It was the age of wisdom (a bright expansive space in the center of the city.) It was the age of foolishness (thinking good, affordable food was to be had in the edge of tourist London.) It was the epoch of belief (I’m sure this restaurant will be as great as my romantic ten-year-old memories!) It was the epoch of incredulity (£9 for this rubbery cheese on a pancake that tastes only of the pan!) I could go on and on. . .
Two days. Two brunches in London. One delightful and worth paying top dollar for. The other prompting a bus nap on the way home.
Let’s hit the highlights.
1. Behind Kings’ Cross, there is a construction explosion. It’s like a crane forest back there.
I remember this area when I was living in London for graduate school ten years ago, and I guess the best description for the area would be “sketchy.” Or maybe “grotty.” It certainly wasn’t a place you’d seek out for destination cocktails or a warm local with a roof garden.
As part of the Central St. Martins site behind Kings Cross Station and part of a massive re-do of the neighborhood, you’ll find Caravan. Its space is massive, and therefore feels oddly Baltimore (in that it has that “used to be an industrial space, now something more glorious” charm that can only happen where space is actually cheap–except this is London, and nothing’s cheap.)
It’s a place that feels easy. Not overly welcoming, just easy (and it’s easy to spend boatloads of money there too because everything was simply delicious.) Kids were welcome, but because the place is easy, not because it’s a family place. Get it? Let’s just cut to a shot of my brunch, shall we?
2. Let’s do #2 with a story. Once upon a time, The Book Doctor and The Theatre Maker lived in flat in Chelsea (Ok! The tube stop was Earl’s Court! But technically, it was Chelsea!) We had too much to drink one night. We woke up the next morning and strolled through the sunshine and the beautiful people and white shops selling vases and perfect handbags, and we had pancakes. Thin, bubbly, golden Dutch pancakes that spilled over the plate, and our headaches were cured and we were just happy to be alive. Then, ten years later, The Book Doctor and The Theatre Maker brought their daughter to a branch of the pancake palace, and it was all service like everyone was just a nice guy wearing a waiter costume, and the pancakes held no magic, and my £9 didn’t get me a sumac sprinkle or perfectly poached eggs white like the snow and golden like the summer sun. Just raw red onions and shredded mozz out of a bag and black olives out of a can and a pancake limp and tasting of a non-stick grill.
Brunch Moral #1: Embrace progress.