I have been enjoying following the trials and tribulations of Zim, who I only really know as The Unemployable Chef , for the last few months as he has given us his humorous (for us) anecdotes about trying to find a suitable local for opening a new restaurant. Thankfully after 18 months of a bumpy ride he is now the self-employed chef rather than the unemployable one and has finally found and opened Caravelle in my favourite corner of Raval. I couldn’t wait to go along and check it out.
Five weeks ago this was a dusty old bodega with barrels on the walls, now it’s a refreshed, still “work in progress” which felt light, airy and spacious even on the grey, dank day outside.
I was pleased to see local beers from Montseny, I love this Lupulus blond beer, perfect for perusing the short but enticing lunch menu and for chatting with Zim and some familiar faces on his new team.
Zim, an Australian with many years of London behind him, brings us a menu with Italian, Mediterranean and Australian influences, especially where breakfast is concerned, and some recent London hits, such as pulled pork sandwiches which seem to be the flavour of that metropolis these days.
After he told me they are making there own sausages and bacon in-house my indecision was conquered and I went for the salchichas caseras con alubias, trufa y peperonata, homemade Italian style sausages with white beans, truffle and stewed peppers. This didn’t stop me looking longingly at the vibrant heap of beetroot, feta, lentil and mint salad nor the pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw I saw being brought out to fellow diners as I waited for my order.
There was no need for food envy, I’d chosen wisely and I absolutely loved this plate of food. Bulging, fennel spiced sausages burst onto the creamy, comforting white beans set against the sweet peppers and the salty parmesan just finished it brilliantly. I was smiling inside as I ate.
As I tried to eat slower to make it last longer, I saw two loaves of brioche that we’d been discussing coming out of the oven and went to take a nosy. Zim gave me a slice from a cooled loaf to try, which was delicious, slightly chewy and I didn’t hesitate to use it to mop up the remainder of my sausage and beans, feeling like a child at home again.
Not satisfied with just making charcuterie, their brioche and sourdough are being made in house with other breads coming from the brilliant bakers at Baluard although more home made doughs are sure to follow once they get settled in. I really wanted to try a dessert but the main course and the beer were pushing my stomach to its limit, but when the word alfajore was mentioned and that the maker of them was currently doing a patisserie course at Hofmann I decided I could probably find a small pocket of space. I love alfajores and this didn’t let me down. It was buttery, flaky yet not powdery like some I’ve tried, had a generous layer of dulce de leche and I liked the extra colouring it had acquired in the oven.
Caravelle is open Tuesday to Sunday with the menu changing daily, for breakfast there are offerings such as banana bread with chocolate and dulce de leche, pancakes, eggs and bacon and dinner gives us the options of ‘small’ plates and ‘big’ plates, I like when things are so simple in this complicated world. And they call a pudding a pudding.
Zim and his team have certainly got a lot on their big plate now the long search has ended but as they say, good things come to those who wait, and I urge you not to.
Caravelle, C/Pintor Fortuny 31, Raval