Recently I've managed a solid trio of visits. A fabulous brunch and a pretty great lunch at Caravan King's Cross and a very, very decent lunch at neighbour Shrimpy's (not all on the same day I hasten to add...)
The quality of the food at Caravan is not at all unexpected given the heritage, but here it comes with added art students and without the queue you'll have at their other place in Exmouth Market.
The menu has a laid back Western Mediterranean vibe with influences and style borrowed from wherever makes tasty. It's effectively much lower priced Ottolenghis with decent coffee and no pretension.
That brunch was a silky aubergine stew with a modicum of smoke and sesame, gently cradling a brace of poached eggs, texture provided by chewy fresh sourdough and a delightfully gamey choritzo style sausage. A little bit of what I needed for the hangover that massively ailed me.
Returning for lunch a few weeks later, I dived into a few of their small plates with my guest. The plates range from £3 to £6 and three would easily do two for a light lunch, five if you're having lunch with me and one or two max if you're studying at St Martins next door. They're not called skinny jeans for nothing.
Tempura tofu was fresh and pillowy light. A crispy air coated marshmallow, flavour added with a hearty sesame and mushroom sauce. Spiced cornbread, fresh from the oven, added a chunk of flavour and a wumph of weight no sane art studentista would go near. Thankfully I was there to take the temptation away. Similarly, lemongrass pork was a significant endeavour for the money, sat on a turnip cake slightly overwhelmed by the tamarind infused juices, it was a pleasant piece of pig. The last two were similarly satisfying; a freshly and lightly fried Malay vegetable samosa and a refreshing broad bean and sweet potato flatbread salad topped with a sharp yoghurt. There's a range of good looking stone baked pizzas too and coffee roasted on the premises (of course…)
It's a lovely spot, saved from any arty pretentiousness by great staff and a real mixed crowd courtesy of the nearby station. A deservedly populist hit.