Caravel is a restaurant on a boat, but don’t expect any ahoying. It’s on a boat with a vibe so distinctly unboaty that you’ll forget you’re floating on Regent’s Canal until the moment you need to climb back on to dry land to pop to the loo. (The only ones are in its sister restaurant next door, whose jetty picnic tables make a great spot for a pre-dinner, Haribo-tasting, rum ’n’ coke old-fashioned, FYI.)
Until then, you’ll feel more like you’re at the kind of local bistro that might be used as the set of a classic London romcom. The walls are painted dark green and tilt inwards, cocooning each table. Service isn’t rushed. Tables aren’t crammed in. An open doorway at the back of the boat allows for nosy glimpses of the surprisingly chill kitchen. (When I visited, Eric Clapton blared out from there towards the end of the night.)
If you’re a fan of St John, Jolene or Rochelle Canteen then you’re probably going to love the menu here. Caravel is run by brothers Fin and Lorcan Spiteri, the sons of two of London’s most renowned restaurateurs (mum Melanie Arnold is the co-founder of Rochelle Canteen and dad Jon Spiteri is the co-founder of Session Arts Club). The brothers have racked up an impressive CV; they’ve worked at some of London’s biggest restaurants including Quo Vadis, Oldroyd and 69 Colebrooke Row.
Overall? Caravel is, in my opinion, the best date restaurant I’ve ever been to
Now, they’ve taken over a restored barge next door to Studio Kitchen. The food is a run of properly playful takes on modern European and classic British dishes: crunchy, fatty rostis topped with refreshing yoghurt and salty caviar; a surprisingly light duck croquette moulded into the shape of a rubber duckie; a deeply sweet tomato salad with roasted onions, asparagus served with a thick, creamy, hazelnutty sauce. And that’s just the starters.
The main you need to order is the lamb. The meat is braised to tender perfection, pressed into a tight block of intense flavour, chopped into slices then fried. The result tastes like a fantasy-tier Sunday roast, especially when washed down with the vibrant house red. And when it comes to dessert? The rhubarb jelly, chantilly cream and honeycomb tastes as nostalgic as it sounds, while the caramelised banana and almond tart is pure indulgence.
Overall? Caravel is, in my opinion, the best date restaurant I’ve ever been to. Although be warned: you’ll eat so much you find yourself staggering down the towpath drunk on carbs and meat. Trust me, I’ve been there.
The vibe An intimate and chic barge called Poppy floating on Regent’s Canal
The food A small, but mighty menu. Bistro-style food with bangers such as the duck croquette moulded in the shape of a rubber duckie and pressed lamb
The drink Classic cocktails but with a twist. Think: rhubarb negronis and rum ’n’ coke Old Fashioneds
Time Out tip A really special date night kinda place. Score serious brownie points and woo that special someone