172 Shepherdess Walk, London, N1 7JL
Evening Standard
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A warmly welcoming restaurant, serving up the likes of squid salad with Jersey Royals and samphire, roast pork shoulder with runner beans and anchovy, and caramelised pear and almond tart. Lorcan is in charge of cooking while Fin looks after cocktails, likely mixed to perfection in new bar Bruno’s on the barge next door.
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At Caravel brothers Fin and Lorcan Spiteri have already impressed with their understated yet romantic floating restaurant. Since the Spring they have been delivering quietly confident bistro dishes that aren’t necessarily ground-breaking but somehow elevate old comfort favourites (including, of course, their unique take on prawn toast).
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It’s intimate, it’s cool, and it’s also on a boat. Yes, it’s a bistro-ish restaurant on a bobbing barge, and it’s easily one of London’s most unique openings of 2022. Not because cashmere-like chicken liver pâté was invented on this boat, nor because the menu jumps from fat slabs of homemade prawn toast to ricotta gnudi. It’s because everything about Caravel—the delicious, good-value food, the charming hosting, the space you’ll tell your friends about—comes to it completely and utterly naturally.
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It’s a simple starter, which is exactly why it works so well. A crunchy slip of potato rösti, a dollop of sour cream and a spoonful of Exmoor caviar. Gone in a bite, remembered for a lot longer. Caravel’s caviar was named the best starter in London by the Evening Standard, who called it a “a gift from the gods.” After trying it, we’re not going to argue with them.
Hot Dinners
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Best new restaurant.
We loved everything about our dinner here, from the space itself to Fin Spiteri’s amazing cocktails and his brother Lorcan’s inventive and delicious menu full of elevated comfort food (the potato rosti with sour cream and caviar above are exceptionally good).
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We started with miniature potato röstis slicked with caviar-studded sour cream, followed by a duck croquette as crispy without as it was moist (sorry) within. Then a generous portion of asparagus with almost-too-much sauce gribiche and roasted hazelnuts, before turbot and braised chickpeas. The former was delicate and poised, and thanks to a crab broth, in need of an emergency bread order for dipping.
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Expect to sample dishes such as sesame prawn toast with spiced tartare; white crab tagliatelle with fennel and garlic; and roasted hake with confit potatoes and curry sauce. Desserts nod to Lorcan’s childhood favourites – look out for blood orange jelly with honeycomb, joined by almond cake with salted caramel ice-cream.
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Playful dishes such as the hero duck croquette shaped like a rubber duck; acerbic mackerel with celeriac remoulade and pickled greengages which slice through the fish’s richness; and fat potato rostis dolloped with sour cream and a generous crown of caviar.
Hot Dinners
Hot DinnersBarge excellence in Islington
We've been hearing very good things about Caravel ever since it opened and all that praise has been clearly justified - and then some. The room/boat is beautiful and welcoming and the food is among the best we've had recently - a menu that's packed with hits. Highly recommended.
TimeOutTime Out says
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 Infatuation
The InfatuationCaravel review
With ten or so tables, refreshingly fair pricing (including wine), and delicious food that has no interest in pretension, don’t be surprised if Caravel becomes your first choice when you’re looking to woo someone. You’re sitting on a candlelit boat, drinking fizz and eating a duck-shaped croquette, after all. Combined these elements make for something memorable. But, even if Caravel wasn’t on a boat, this would still be a special restaurant.
PalatePalate review
Fin and Lorcan Spiteri have created something quite special: so quietly accomplished it feels like it’s been there forever and so genuinely charming you feel like an old friend. Congratulations both.
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Lorcan may have grown up with food in his blood, so to speak, but this is a chef who clearly wants to make his own success rather than ride on the back of his parents. And with two different concepts already to his name at Studio Kitchen and no plans to stop there, it seems that this young chef has a very bright future ahead of him.
RESYFive Things To Know About Caravel
A standout pasta of tagliatelle with white crab and fennel – a surefire winner – is a favourite (“particularly delicious”) and joined by grown-up (and heartwarming) plates like fork-tender spring lamb with sprouting broccoli and anchoïade, or a spring risotto of English broad beans and peas with Graceburn cheese. Along with the beautifully lit dining room, Spiteri’s uncomplicatedly delicious fare, slick cocktails, and the satisfying background chitter-chatter of other guests makes for an unexpectedly spellbinding setup — in other words, date night catnip.
SquareMealSquareMeal Review of Caravel
The menu is exactly what we want to be eating on a romantic old barge. There’s excellent bread and butter, obviously, but more lovely things too. Crispy little potato rostis are an infinitely better vehicle for sour cream and caviar than a blini could ever hope to be. Chicken liver pate is an easy thing to get wrong - here it is perfect, emerging from the floating kitchen in a smooth rocher with pickles and toasted brioche.
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Expect starters such as sesame prawn toast with spiced tartare; confit duck rissoles; and violet artichoke with kohlrabi. Main dishes span British, Italian and French classics, with white crab tagliatelle with fennel and garlic joined by hearty plates such as crispy pork belly with green beans and anchoïde, and roasted hake with confit potatoes and curry sauce.
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Lorcan brings his experience at such spots as Quo Vadis and Oldroyd to such treats as sesame prawn toast with spiced tartare, confit duck rissoles and violet artichoke with kohlrabi… and that’s just - literally! - for starters. The menu spans British, French, Italian (there’s even a curry sauce in there) while the boat is a lovingly restored thing of beauty seating 40 with an open kitchen so you can keep your eye on the action.