London Casual-Dining Pioneer to Open Third Site South of the Thames
Caravan, which pioneered casual, all-day dining in London, will open a third location south of the River Thames near the Tate Modern art gallery.
The restaurant, bar and coffee roastery, owned by three friends from New Zealand, is taking over the ground floor of what was a late-19th-century metal factory, the company's owners said. The 4,000 square-foot site has a dining area that can seat 140 guests, plus a standalone bar.
London’s Bankside area along the south bank of the river is popular with tourists, home to the Globe Theatre as well as the Tate. It’s connected to the City financial district and St. Paul’s Cathedral by the Millennium footbridge and has its share of chain restaurants. But hasn't become a dining destination.
“It’s a great site in a great area,” said Chris Ammermann, who founded Caravan in 2010 with Laura Harper-Hinton and chef Miles Kirby.
They opened the first location in Clerkenwell in 2010, serving brunch-type food and fusion dishes such as blue cheese and peanut wontons, as well as coffee roasted on the premises.
Two years later, the friends made the leap to a jumbo site with a roastery near King’s Cross, the first restaurant into the Granary Square development. Within days, it was difficult to get a table. Caravan was soon joined there by two more casual venues, Grain Store and Dishoom, where waits for tables can be long.
It's easier than ever to get a late afternoon lunch in London. Caravan was an early champion of relaxed all-day dining, which is becoming increasingly popular in London at restaurants such as Duck & Waffle. Caravan King’s Cross serves brunch to 1,500 people each weekend, with another 650 in Clerkenwell.
Caravan sells coffee to other establishments, including chef Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck, and will open a standalone roastery later this year in an 8,500 square-foot Victorian warehouse, also near King’s Cross. There's a cookbook in the works, too.
Breakfast and weekend brunch at Bankside will feature signature dishes such as baked eggs with tomato pepper ragout, Greek yogurt and Aleppo chili; Kirby plans to add creations such as lardo biscuits with soy wild mushrooms; and potsticker dumplings.
The friends aren’t finished with expansion. Harper-Hinton said they have looked at sites in Brooklyn and, longer term, would be interested in opening in New York and other cities.
Caravan Bankside is scheduled to open on Oct. 27 at 30 Great Guildford St., London SE1 9EP; http://www.caravanrestaurants.co.uk/
Richard Vines is chief food critic at Bloomberg. Follow him on Twitter @richardvines and Instagram @richard.vines