Friday, 23 April 2010


There's a band wagon, I'm on it. Everyone hearts Caravan, I've not read 1 bad review so I pretty much knew I would love it.

Last weekend, accompanied by the girls, I brunched and it was honestly one of the best brunches I can ever remember having. No queue, we breezed in and were seated following a mere 10 minute wait at the bar.

I like everything about it here, the space, the low key decor, the friendly servers and obviously the food.

As important a brunch fixture as the food itself, for me, is a bloody mary. Caravan's version surprised me at first with the inclusion of coriander. It took me 3 sips to decide that I liked it, so fresh with just the right amount of spice.

I settled on the baked eggs with chorizo which was quite marvellous. I adored it and ate every last drop. One slight niggle, it doesn't come with bread, in my opinion this is a vital component of any dish that includes perfectly runny egg yolks and a peppery tomato sauce. I ordered a side of toasted sourdough which did the job. The sauce was rich and sweet whilst the chorizo provided a lovely smoky meaty contrast, all tempered by a dollop of creamy yoghurt. I've found myself thinking about this dish at least once a day since my visit, I need to have it again.

Noy went for the grilled ham, bubble and squeak with 2 poached eggs and hollandaise. We unanimously agreed that the bubble seemed to be lacking some squeak, it was more of a potato cake but everything else about the dish was great. Nibs had the full Caravan fry up, mainly because she wanted mushrooms and this too got the thumbs up.

We all loved it, it's such a rarity to be quite so stumped when it comes to ordering, I found it really tough deciding what to eat, I'll be back often to try everything else but I'll be hard pushed to find anything better than those baked eggs. I didn't have one but I hear they do amazing coffee, and they also serve freshly squeezed fruit juices. I will say I noticed the absence of sausage on the menu, I do love a sausage with my brunch but the chorizo is an adequate stand in.

Cost around £17.50 each with a drink and service, a bargain to boot.

Exmouth Market

Caravan on Urbanspoon

Friday, 16 April 2010

Sen Nin, Camden

Last Friday I experienced my first Japanese teppanyaki meal when (thanks to Alex and Kid) we eventually managed a school reunion type get together. Teppanyaki being food cooked on an iron griddle.

The venue was Sen Nin in Camden

NOTE - Don't be fooled by the 50% off food offer on Toptable, they craftily presented an alleged half price Samurai Teppanyaki menu which would be a complete and utter rip off at the non discounted price of £45. We paid £22.50 each for 3 courses beginning with starter selections including dumplings, sushi rolls and veggie spring rolls. I was a bit perplexed about how well these items sit served together but went with it, eating most of the Kid's too. Soy and chilli sauces were provided for dipping and individual bowls of miso soup. The dumplings were the highlight of the evening for me as far as the food's concerned.

For main you must choose (in pairs - strange) 3 from 5 meat/fish options which are grilled in front of you by a rather flamboyant chef with the odd egg smashed on the floor (1 by Alex's feet which was cleaned up about an hour after the accident) for good measure. We were a little afraid of the guy in all honesty, knives were flying, flames were roaring, it was incredibly hot when the grill got going and the boys each had food thrown in their general direction to be caught with their mouths.

Nibs and I went for steak, prawns and calamari (ignoring the chicken and white fish). I thought that the food was served in a peculiar order, fish done first, meat, veggies then rice. Fish and meat eaten before the sides arrived. I will say that we all did our best to embrace the spirit, cheering, clapping and drum rolling the table when required, whilst the chef grilled, pouted and posed for photographs. He later emerged with marigolds and cleaned the grill. I would have thought there would be a kitchen porter for such duties? Things all felt a little odd really.

The dessert choices were green tea (?) or fruit salad. Poor. One might say I am a spoil sport and it's more for the fun than the eats but they probably wouldn't know me very well. I enjoyed the evening far more once we'd left the restaurant for the much safer surroundings of the Camden Head and few pints of cider.

Needless to say I won't be back for the food that's for sure and if you do visit, look out for 'sexyboy' (the chef/cleaner's favoured moniker) and be advised to steer well clear if there are any eggs in close proximity.

Sen Nin
35 Pratt St
Camden, NW1
4/10 (not my cup of tea)

Aplogies for lack of pics - it being a reunion we all got pretty merry, the atmosphere is fun actually. Total bill was £35 each with 10% service charge and booze.

Sen Nin Japanese Teppanyaki on Urbanspoon

Friday, 9 April 2010


The problems with blogs is that once a place gains a certain amount of notoriety there's a danger of it becoming so popular that it's impossible to snag a table. This is the case with Lantana, if you can bare an hour plus wait of a Saturday (which sometimes I can, sometimes I can't) then you're fine but if not, like me you'll be roaming around starving in want of some breakfast/lunch/brunch.

When you have guests this is far from ideal, I really want to get to Caravan before it falls prey to the same fate but judged it to be too much of a mission when a couple of weeks ago, Kid and Crann were in town and we wanted a nice brunch. Lantana - no, Breakfast Club - no, bizarrely an even longer queue there. We ended up at Balans on Old Compton St.

Now I have a history with this place. It has, in various guises, been a stalwart destination for me. A place in which to while away the hours between the missed last train back to the depths of Kent and the first train home in the morning. Many cups of coffee required to prevent one from falling asleep on the table. Then, once I'd made the move to London, it became a regular lunch venue. I still miss the vegetarian club with goatscheese and roasted veggies, this was a casualty of the menu revamp a couple of years back.

All this went on in the smaller Balans Cafe at the Charing Cross Rd end of Old Compton Street. This brunch was my first time at the swankier and much camper big sister restaurant at the Wardour St end.

We were seated, given a choice of where we would prefer to sit, I do like to be given the choice, often you're dumped down somewhere close to others, presumably to lessen the walking distance for the waiters. Decor is camp as you like, I love it, it's all sparkles and prints and dark moody lighting. There are 2 menus, full dinner and brunch, we peruse both and settle for brunch. I ordered the crawdaddy club sandwich which promised to contain crayfish, avocado, tomato and rocket on toasted onion bread.

What arrived had no avocado, I almost cried and the bread (no onion that I could discern) cut my mouth to buggery. Good fries though, this was really filling, fresh rocket and a nice amount of crayfish to compensate. I also got a bloody mary which were served in a glass complete with rim dunked in stock, odd. There was a very healthy amount of horseradish floating about, I like that in my bloody mary so this was very welcome.

Crann plumped for the full english and Kid a mini english of eggs, bacon and sausage. Both were very pleased. Crann ordered extra toast and was chuffed to bits with the little pot of jam which came with it.

There's a different menu available between midnight and 6am. I love that they're open 24hrs, if you're too drunk to care it's an absolute winner and with such a varied menu there has to be something for everyone. I shall definitely be back.

60 Old Compton St

Balans on Urbanspoon