People often ask me why I do seemingly nonsensical things.  Case in point being what possessed me to eat on a boat in the depths of winter.  Had I had slipped and fallen on my face (again)?  Had I been smacked around for being more irritating than usual?  Had I burnt the toast too many times and gotten a high by breathing in too much smoke?

In hindsight, it should have been clear that in this recent cold spell in London, with temperatures hovering around 0 degrees, dining on water would not be a good idea.  It would be rather cold…  Then again, that’s maybe why we managed to get a booking as from the reviews, this seems to be the place to be.

The placing belied the fact that you were seated below the water level.  It looked bright, cheery and warm at first.

However, just in case you forgot that you were on a boat, the window reminded you where you were.

Then the temperature also made your location amply clear.  The cold seeping through the hull caused considerable discomfort, at least to us.  Although it seemed like many of our fellow diners ignored this minor inconvenience as they ate seemingly indifferent to freezing weather, we instead huddled in our corner as even after asking for the heater to be turned up to the maximum it just wasn’t enough.

It would be a chilly meal.  Yet we turned to the food hoping that it would cheer us up.

Potato rosti, sour cream & caviar.  These were decent, although costing somewhat of a pretty penny.  Although I know caviar will bump up the prices of things, these were quite and expensive (and small) appetizers.  Creamy bites with charred potato, crunchy and fulsome in taste but small.

Bread & butter.  The bread was rather boring.  It sadly was a bit too moist in the middle, not being bouncy, but rather deflated.  It stodginess could not be saved by the rather hard butter.  Note to restaurant, hard butter for soft bread is kind of a bad idea as applying it leads to squashed bread.  That has the ability of making what is initially mediocre, bad.

Sesame prawn toast & chilli jam.  This probably best belongs in a Chinese restaurant.  Yet if this was the case, I would probably have missed one of the top dishes of the day.  Delectable prawns with sesame with a spicy and sweet sauce, these were a delight.  Crunchy and bursting with umami, I could eat these all day long.

Lamb nugget, kold sauce.  Coming after the sesame prawn, this was somewhat a let down.  It wasn’t that it was bad, as I could taste the moist shredded lamb with the crispy coating.  It was just that it wasn’t really ground breaking like the sesame prawn toast.

Warm squid salad, pink firs and pickled tomatoes.  I was confused by this.  I couldn’t find the potatoes or the tomatoes.  I could only see salad leaves.  Squid I saw, but that’s about as similar to the description as it comes.  I guess this was a last minute substitution in the kitchen.  It was ok, if not accurate to the description although nothing to write home about as it lacked much of interest.

Lamb rump, rainbow chard & anchoiade.  This rather meagre portion of meat (two slices of lamb) for a rather full price managed to deflate things quite quickly.  Although I would have been more annoyed if the taste of the lamb warranted anything more than two slices.  However, nothing to linger over here.

Squid ink tagliatelle, Cornish mussels.  Although pleasing to the eye, disappointed on the tongue.  Limp and insipid.  It lacked much substance as the pasta in particular fell flat as overcooked and seemingly created with black food colouring.  The mussels did not really lift the dish up as rather sad specimens.

Roast hake, chickpeas, cavolo nero & saffron aioli.  A surprise as we ordered this as we were hungry after the rather meagre sizes of the mains.  Delightfully charred hake, sitting on a carefully seasoned chickpea bed mixed with cavolo nero and aioli, this was a winning combination.  I said as much, between chattering jaws.  If only the rest of the food was like this.

Pink fir potatoes.  Bland and boring.  Could have done with more butter and salt.

Pistachio tart & saffron poached pear.  Decent, if not something that would blow you away.  Nutty, good balance of flavours in a rather meagre slice.

Baked chocolate cake, chocolate sauce & cream.  Tasted better than it looked, although that wasn’t really that hard.  Reminded me of rocky road in taste, slathered with chocolate sauce.

Although I only attribute atmosphere 1 point to the score, in this case, with chattering teeth, it may have ended up influencing my thoughts of the food.  Perhaps I was just in a bit of a bad mood but the food at Caravel was by the main not really to my liking.  Dishes were a bit hit and miss and combined with the wintery temperature it was only downhill from my entrance.  Or perhaps to continue on this nautical theme, Caravel did not really float my boat.


A quiet eating 7/10.

Lunch (3 course equivalent) was GBP 50 per person excluding drinks and service.



172 Shepherdess Walk
London N1 7JL

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