IT’S early Saturday morning in London and a look outside the window indicates the prospect of a long, cold, grey and bleak weekend. What’s more, I have £40 left in my bank account and a payday I know is far enough away to mean £30 of that amount needs to be set-aside for the good people at TFL.
Clearly, the day should be spent indoors doing chores. Turning pants pockets inside out before the wash — searching for rogue tenners. Making cups of tea with reused teabags (one bag, five cups = still good), and ever so slightly off milk. A morning spent scrounging under couch cushions as I tidy, collecting loose pennies in little piles on the table until I have enough for a 39p can of chickpeas from the convenience store at the end of the street.
Or maybe instead I should take myself to Poundland and ensure I’m prepared for the coming days of poverty, stocking up on three for £1 baked beans and plastic bags of pillowy hotdog rolls. I’ll wander back through the empty streets of the wintery city, gazing forlornly into cosy cafes full of laughing people, my face pressed up against the foggy windows like a Little Match Girl longing for perfectly poached eggs on sourdough toast.
Unless the window I happen to press my face up against paints too inviting a scene to pass by. It might just be too full of coats and scarves being discarded as people press into the warmth, or have too many weekend papers wanting to be read in a pile on the bench. Or maybe I just won’t be able to resist the plate after plate of steaming breakfasts being weaved between the packed full tables and distributed to chatting customers.
In which case I might well throw caution to the wind and accept that transport to work and food for the week will be something Monday me can worry about, because Saturday me wants to spend her last pounds on a morning of delicious coziness at Exmouth Market’s Caravan.
Early enough to snag the last table before the hordes of crowds swarm upon Caravan’s corner location at the start of cobbled Exmouth Market, there feels like no better place to sit and watch passersby hustle through the gently falling snow outside than from a comfy bench seat inside. Despite the two walls of windows, Caravan feels warm, busy and intimate. Coupled with a view of red telephone boxes, and frequently passing double decker buses, it is a perfect mix of something uniquely London yet surprisingly familiar.
If you’re going to indulge yourself on one last meal before a guaranteed week of stale biscuits surreptitiously stolen from roommates cupboards, then Caravan is the place to do it. The extensive brunch menu offers all your usuals, but with unexpected twists. Banana caramel porridge, cornbread French toast with mashed avocado, or a big fry up with creamy soy mushrooms all sound extremely tempting.
However, I forgo my usual penchant for poached anything this time and take the recommendation of baked eggs. Two runny discs of deliciousness floating in bath of red pepper ragout and creamy yogurt, with thick bread to soak it all up. Add two smooth cappuccinos, and an impending week of baked beans is all but forgotten.
It’s at this point I leave. Sensibleness kicks in, and I take my last pennies and head home. Or, I spot the specials board offering orange infused pancakes with berry compote and honeycomb butter, and I say — what the hell, I’ll walk two hours to work. Whoever said two breakfasts in three hours is unnecessary clearly hasn’t been to Caravan.
They know what they’re doing, these New Zealanders. Chef Miles Kirby and front of house Chris Ammermann have brought their Antipodean passion for unique flavours and knowledge of great coffee to bear, making Caravan an excellent choice for a lazy weekend breakfast. The service too deserves a special mention, with the increasingly chaotic buzz of waiting customers not detracting from the relaxed but efficient service of the staff.
It may mean I now face a week of leftover freezer party pies and the resurrection of the unused bike in our hall to ensure attendance at work, but it was worth it. The perfect place for a last meal on a cold winter’s day.
11-13 Exmouth Market,
London, EC1R 4QD.
By Alex Ivett
To find out where to get your local caffeine hit see: Best Australian coffee shops in London