Rustic food and enchanting surroundings make this pop-up a truly charming experience.
The Street Food Collective's laid back outdoor dining was never suited to the sideways rain and frigid temperatures of Auckland winters. For that reason, I praise the sweet mother of sharing plates for the arrival of Gypsy Caravan - a cosy, indoor, pop-up restaurant that has appeared in TSFC's place. Husband and wife team, Annalise and Ryan Clarke, are behind this new venture so expectations were set high from the get-go.
Gypsy Caravan is a fairly enchanting sight on entry. Red lanterns are strung across the roof, bathing intricately patterned persian rugs, booth seating and bright, floral table cloths in a soft glow. Plus rather than the food truck, wait in line service of TSFC, a small team of attentive waiters offer full table service, allowing you to stay huddled up by the heater if need be.
When it's time to order you're in for a hearty challenge indeed. If you're struggling, go for a selection of street food and sides - that way you can try as much as possible without maxing out the overdraft.
Highlights include the gyros, the best of which is the amazing soft shell crab ($14). It's tender, fried crab meat, slathered in black pepper sauce and cinnamon pickled cucumber, wrapped up in a crispy flatbread. The pan-fried ouzo cheese ($15) comes as a massive block, sizzling in a mini pan and served with sourdough. If you like cheese, salt and generally delicious things then DO NOT miss it.
For something main size choose the pan-fried fish d'agrume, with meyer lemon puree. I won't act like I know what that name means but it's utterly delicious, so it really doesn't matter.
Drinks wise, there's a fair bit to choose from with a few decent craft beer options and wines on offer if you're that way inclined. The cocktails looked absolutely delicious on paper and some are served in nifty Moroccan teapots, but I have to say they're the only part of the experience that underwhelmed slightly.
All things considered, Gypsy Caravan is a phenomenal new pop-up restaurant that embodies the colour and vibrancy of the regions that inspired its menu. Delicious-yet-rustic food and enchanting surroundings make dining here a truly charming experience, one that I'd happily recommend to anyone. Let's just hope they stick around for a while.
Photo by Josh Griggs