Posted on Thursday, 28th February 2013
The shabby area behind King’s Cross use to house the late night clubbing set. But in recent times this has been regenerated into something unrecognisable. Gone is the dinginess, and in its place is a rejuvenated Granary Square laden with fountains and a reinvigorated Granary Building. A Grade II listed structure; the Granary Building plays home to the Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design as well as Caravan King’s Cross, the second branch of the Caravan restaurants (the original being on Exmouth Market).
The interior of Caravan King’s Cross is as gorgeous as the luminous façade of the Granary Building. It smacks of industrial warehouse glam and is modern and striking. The airy ceiling space gives it a heightened sense of chic, and the restaurant does well to create the promise of an edgy New York dining experience. It’s the kind of place that immediately draws you in as you walk through the door. But where the restaurant comes up trumps in terms of design, it conversely falls short on the food. The menu possessed hints of creativity but unfortunately the cooking was left somewhat wanting.
A starter of mackerel fillets (£6.50) was nicely cooked and moist, albeit a little salty. It came with a creative combination of seaweed, cucumber, sesame and a moromi miso dressing, but it too, was over seasoned. Shame really as this could have been a rather nice dish.
A sea bass ceviche (£6.50) was not ceviche in the true sense of the word. There was meant to be lime in the dish, but the reality was that there was hardly any hint of acidity. Consequently the ceviche lacked for both balance and flavour. In an unusual twist, the sea bass was combined with slivers of cucumber and touches of coconut, chilli and peanuts. The coconut was nice, but you couldn’t really taste the chilli and some of the roasted peanuts were also a little burnt.
A broad bean, butternut squash, flatbread, yoghurt and mint salad (£4.50) proved dull. The squash was sweet and nicely roasted, but the flatbread tasted flat – literally – and had no flavour. The salad could have done with more mint. But that said, the mint wasn’t particularly fragrant or flavoursome either.
A main of coley fish fillet came with curry lentils, cavolo nero, cucumber and yoghurt (£14.50). The fish was moist and flakey but unevenly seasoned in parts. The lentils were also a touch bland and the curry was barely discernible. This dish was nice in concept but it really needed some pizazz to lift it and endear it to an audience.
A pearl barley risotto with porcini and truffled herb mascarpone (£13.50) was pleasant. But you couldn’t really taste the truffle or the herbs in the mascarpone, and the veg stock that had been used to make the risotto needed a greater concentration of flavour to really give the dish a much-needed intensity.
A butterscotch caramel pot (£6) was surprisingly very delicious given how average the rest of the food was. The texture of the caramel was almost like a crème caramel, but more set. There were some salted shortbread on the side and its saltiness was a good touch, but it wasn’t buttery or light enough to warrant a really good shortbread label.
The food at Caravan King’s Cross was very ‘pedestrian’, and it didn’t do justice to the edgy New York vibe of the restaurant that had promised so much more. The prices were reasonable so it catered well to the student-y crowd and the service was friendly enough. But a lack of credible skill on the cooking front meant that the food would hardly satisfy the discerning diner. The menu makes for a tempting read, but don’t bank on the food being as appetising as it sounds. Caravan King’s Cross is a pretend restaurant. However it is very cool and trendy, so it does make for a funky drinking venue.
Food rating: 2.5/5
Service rating: 3/5
Prices: £18 to £28 for three courses – excludes drinks and service.