11 - 13 Exmouth Market
020 7833 8115
by Malcolm Eggs
"The beans were just roasted this morning," said the barista, as if by way of warning. "So if there's a certain... fruitiness to the flavour that will be why."
I hereby coin the term 'caravan apology', as in 'an apology for a benevolent state of affairs'. See: "I'm sorry I'm so early" or "I'm sorry, I know we said we wouldn't do presents"; this was the finest cup of coffee I have set to my lips in as long as I can remember, the froth patterned exactly like one of those 70s ring-binders and the taste smoother than a Don Draper infidelity binge.
We ordered baked eggs with chorizo and a side of black pudding. The latter, from Franconia in Putney, was remarkable - light, subtly smoky and, within a matter of seconds, absent. The chorizo and eggs (£11 for two) were delivered chicken madras-style in a handled silver pot, the chorizo bits lurking like crocodiles in a crimson-doused pool of red pepper, green parsley, piquant oily sauce, Greek yoghurt and gloopy, friendly eggs. It became a proper mess, but a bloody delectable one.
What about the service? Tap water was poured immediately without request, then replenished zealously. The room itself? Attractive and light, a mix of Wellington cocktail bar, London bistro and a branch of All Saints. Well-heeled new mothers and rubber-heeled freelancers have already formed a demographic stand-off.
If I must have a gripe, it's that the 'Caravan Fry Up' is £8 but comprising eggs, bacon, tomatoes, soy mushrooms and toast is holding back on some treasures: black pudding and bubble are available but must be ordered as sides at up to £3.50 each. Vietnam-style mission creep is a danger.
Four and a half years ago, I was in this same room - it being until recently Al's Café Bar - complaining in the first ever LRB review that the bacon was only cooked on one side. "I'm sorry you closed, Al's," can be my first caravan apology.