Caravel is a restaurant on a ship, but don’t expect there to be. It’s on a boat with such a distinct vibe that you’ll forget you’re floating down Regent’s Canal until you have to get back on dry land to use the bathroom. (The only ones are at its sister restaurant next door, whose picnic tables on the pier make a great place for a pre-dinner, Haribo tasting, old-fashioned rum ‘n’ coke, FYI.)
Until then, you’ll feel more like you’re in the kind of local bistro that could be used as the setting for a classic London romantic comedy. The walls are painted dark green and slope inward, cocooning each table. The service is not rushed. The tables are not crowded. An open door at the back of the boat provides a curious glimpse of the surprisingly cold galley. (During my visit, Eric Clapton yelled from there towards the end of the night.)
If you’re a fan of St John’s, Jolene or Rochelle Canteen, you’ll probably love the menu here. Caravel is run by the brothers Fin and Lorcan Spiteri, the son of two of London’s most renowned restaurateurs (muh Mélanie Arnold is the co-founder of Rochelle Canteen and dad Jon Spiteri is the co-founder of Session Arts Club). Jhe brothers have accumulated an impressive CV; they worked in some of London’s greatest restaurants including Quo Vadis, Oldroyd and 69 Colebrooke Row.
Globally? Caravel is, in my opinion, the best date restaurant I’ve been to
Now they’ve taken over a restored houseboat next to Studio Kitchen. The food is a series of playful versions of modern European and classic British dishes: crunchy, fatty röstis topped with refreshing yoghurt and salty caviar; a surprisingly light duck kibble molded in the shape of a rubber duck; a deeply sweet tomato salad with roasted onions, asparagus served with a thick and creamy hazelnut sauce. And those are just the starters.
The main one you have to order is the lamb. The meat is braised to tender perfection, pressed into a tight block of intense flavor, sliced and then fried. The result tastes like a fantastic-level Sunday roast, especially when drizzled with the vibrant house red. And when does dessert come? The rhubarb jelly, whipped cream and honeycomb taste as nostalgic as it sounds, while the banana and caramelized almond tart is pure indulgence.
Globally? Caravel is, in my opinion, the best date restaurant I have been to. But beware: you’ll eat so much that you’ll find yourself staggering down the towpath drunk on carbs and meat. Believe me, I’ve been there.
The atmosphere An intimate and chic houseboat called Poppy floating on Regent’s Canal
The food A small but powerful menu. Bistro-style cooking with bangers like molded duck croquette in the shape of rubber duck and pressed lamb
The beverage Classic cocktails but with a twist. Think: rhubarb negronis and rum ‘n’ coke Old Fashioneds
time out advice A truly special place for a date. Score some serious brownie points and woo that special someone