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“overpriced coffee and very pretentious”

Caravan Exmouth Market
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Ranked #2,503 of 23,357 Restaurants in London
Price range: $9 - $33
Cuisines: Contemporary
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Restaurant details
Good for: Bar scene
Dining options: Breakfast, Lunch, Late Night, Reservations
Neighborhood: Clerkenwell
Description: Located in vibrant, pedestrianised exmouth market, caravan is a bright and airy space with glazed frontage on two sides and an outside terrace on the market. Serving our signature well travelled breakfast and all day food and drink menus, and freshly roasted coffee from our in house coffee roastery, our style is relaxed, open and friendly. Come for a coffee with the morning paper or a cocktail and small plates in the evening or anything in between!
Reviewed May 4, 2013

I'm a Londoner and left 10 years ago to live in Barcelona, I come back around 4 times a year to get my fix of this great city which I miss. I was always a coffee fanatic years ago in London as I'm half Spanish and was brought up with a Continental view of coffee culture, something that didn't arrive in London till the mid 90's - I remember my pilgrimage to the first Seattle Coffee in Longacre to get my Tall Skinny Latte - I was so happy! Coffee is now like liquid gold and unlike Barcelona where a good cafe con leche (latte) is available absolutely everywhere, in London it's become silly with everyone thinking they know the best coffee and if it's not made by an Aussie barrista then it's not worth anything. I have been known to walk a mile for a good coffee and at the prices in London for such a beverage I make sure I research first. This is how I came upon Caravan. I know Exmouth Market very well and remember going to Moro's around 15 years ago when it first opened to sample the food I grew up on, it was expensive but good and I see it's still there. The whole market is now full of barrista made coffees and cup cakes, how times have changed.We tried to go to Caravan with some friends on Sunday for coffee and breakfast but the queues were around the block so we went somewhere else. I still wanted to try their "famous" coffee so we went there on a quiet Wednesday morning when the sun was shining, it was very pleasant indeed. It was around 11.30 and we sat outside on benches pub style. There is a price list on the wall for their coffees and I noticed a latte was £2.40, seemed reasonable considering, however if you check further down it says these are take out prices, which is misleading as it's obviously not a take out style place, I saw no-one walking out with take out cups. I asked the waiter for 2 lattes and if he had any croissants, he said the kitchen was closed, which I thought was odd. Anyway, we wanted a bite of something and as we were sitting outside on the pub style benches my partner popped to a bakers to buy us each a croissant. This is something everyone does in Barcelona if the bar has run out, nobody minds at all if you are buying something there. We started to eat out croissants discretely and a waiter rushed out with an angry face to tell us that we were being disrespectful to their establishment by eating food that is not theirs, there was no humour in him at all and he clearly takes himself very seriously indeed, I thought Aussies were famous for their sense of humour, this one had none at all. We explained we were having their coffee and had tried to eat something there but were told the kitchen was closed, he made no apologies for his and we put the food away. However, as it was a lovely and rare sunny day we decided to have two more coffees - no food- which came to £12. I suggest Caravan display their prices on the wall for the coffee had in house and not just take away. They may also want to come to Barcelona to visit a place called Moritz (brewers of the famous Catalan beer) which is 3 mins walk from our flat (trendy area like Clerkenwell or Hoxton), it's uber stylish with a micro brewery and serves food all day. The waiters are dressed in stylish uniforms and it's amazing. The French chef has a Michelin star. We often go there for coffee or breakfast and sit outside on the terrace, their offer before 12.30 is a cafe con leche plus croissant and quality jams for £2 each. Once there were no croissants and we bought some to have with our coffee, the waiters didn't bat an eyelid - shame London cannot have more humour about it's food and the quality of it. I am now truly fed up with these barrista served coffee shops pretending to be this and that, so much so that I now try to find non chain places serving old fashioned food, bacon sandwiches, that kind of thing. We stayed in Chapel Market and discovered a great old timers place called Alpino, smiley service, great food at real prices and surprisingly their cafe latte was almost as good as Caravan's and included with the food, I know where I will be going back to!

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4  Thank paininspain
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed April 29, 2013 via mobile

Came here for lunch with a friend and was bitterly disappointed with the complete lack of gluten free options. There was no cider (gluten free alternative to a beer) and every option had bread or flour involved, when I told the waitress this, she suggested a dish with toast on the side, I said was there any alternative to the toast, as I don't see the point in paying and receiving something I cannot eat, and was told no, plus when the dish arrived it still had the toast. Really dissapointed.

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Thank L H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 29, 2013

I've been here twice. Once for lunch, once for brunch. The Salt Beef Bubble, with its perfectly poached eggs, was the highlight. The burrata at lunch was also memorable. That being said, the service is appalling, and at the brunch incident, after beginning to apologize, the server then chided us that we were "lucky" to only have to wait 40 minutes from ordering for our food, and 30 minutes to get our bill even when the line was out the door. If they sort those issues, they'll be top notch.

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Thank boilerjess98
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 28, 2013

Caravan is in the super trendy former total no-go area behind Kings Cross station in a former warehouse with high ceiling and exposed brick/iron work. It is an uber-cool set up with great table layout so everyone can see, a big bar area shared loos and an open to view kitchen. Its set back from the road and has limited signage but if you spot the fountains you have found it! There is no close-by parking and its a good 10 min walk from the tube. Daytime I'd imagine would be quite pleasant but at night its bordering on threatening if you are remotely anxious - there aren't many people around and those who were din't look up to spending £50pp on dinner!

First impressions are very good, great buzzy atmosphere and busy kitchen but if you like being welcomed or even the faintest hint of a bit service then the bad news is this place isn't for you!

On arrival we stood ignored for an uncomfortable 5 minutes until one of the 2 guys working (?) at the screens on reception lifted their heads. Without making any eye contact our booking was confirmed and we were shown to our tables a bit too briskly for comfort and then left to our own devices for just over 10 minutes with the menus and wine list.

At last we were served. The menus are on clipboards and run to several sheets - food sounded great - mainly small sharing plates and the wines actually quite reasonable. We were offered water but as I was asking about the wine list and trying to choose the server inexplicably walked off while I was mid-ponder presume my pause was too long or she had some kind of attention deficit issue?

Regrettably this set the tone. The small plates came at an alarmingly fast pace, some very (very) good but a couple just about average and we had a very nice pizza and dessert. The large plates looked very nice so there's no doubt these guys can cook. None of the servers stopped for long enough to ask if we wanted anything else or if we liked the food - the wine was never ordered and we were out in just over an hour. The 2 guys at the door didn't raise their heads on the way out either in case you were wondering!

No doubt they will thrive as this is a place of the moment but they really need to teach their staff the value of a modicum of service and how to smile! Nice food but we wont be rushing back - far better places for the price.

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2  Thank Clive G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 21, 2013

We'd heard good things about the coffee served here, having an on site roastery, and being placed in many 'top 10 London coffee shop' type run downs, so we thought we'd try it out one Saturday afternoon.

On arrival it looked as though they were going for the Guinness record for most people they could fit inside a restaurant, with an inordinate number of people ŵrithing and jostling for position within. This obviously wasn't a particularly appealing start but we decided to add ourselves to the record attempt. On entering there is a narrow walk way in front of the bar which partitions it from the dining area and this is where those waiting for a table gather.

We were primarily interested in having a coffee or two, but were also amenable to ordering food, if the menu grabbed us, so we asked for a table to be informed by an amiable lady that the wait would be 30-40 mins but that we could have some coffee at the bar while we waited.
Having finished off our coffees we were in the process of deciding whether to have another or to leave when I accidentally nudged one of the waiters while turning around, such was the congested space, this must be a regular occurrence. However I made the requisite conciliatory gesture only to receive the kind of dirty look to suggest I'd kicked his dog. At that point I weighed up the options, assist the indolent streak in getting some fresh air via one of the windows (ok I'm over egging it but I was fuming), or leave. Judging discretion to be the better part I opted for the latter.

You can't criticise an establishment for becoming popular, only how they deal with that popularity, and in this case an otherwise courteous team were let down by one miserable, anaemic smear in an apron. I'd advise that you go by all means but try to avoid their busiest times, ie weekend lunchtimes, and if it's so busy that you have to wait then don't as the are excellent alternatives on nearby leather lane such as prufrocks and the department of coffee and social affairs.

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2  Thank David E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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