I’ll admit, I was surprised when Pacific Social Club opened its doors for business. Not much of the gentrification process in Hackney surprises me any more. I expect street markets to pop up out of sewer grates nowadays, but not on Clarence Road. Not my Clarence Road.
Community-oriented, friendly, dirty and noisy, Clarence Road always felt when I first moved here just a bit edgier than Lower Clapton Road, probably because it’s emptier most of the time and it’s not a street with a lot going on. There are businesses, newsagents, convenience stores, bric-a-brac, Merry-go-round, but posh coffee shops? Not here. Until June of last year when Liam Casey and Nico Atwater opened up Pacific after overhauling the space formerly occupied by Lokat’s motor spares.
Since its opening, Pacific Social Club has created an inviting space that has rapidly established itself as a feature of the area and is going some way towards making Clarence Road a destination for more than just riot tourism.
The coffee is superb and unmatched anywhere in Hackney. Machiattos are flawlessly executed, flat whites are the subtlest, smoothest blend of coffee and milk, as only the bona fide Antipodean baristas (my last flat white there was made to precise perfection by an amiably chatty Kiwi called Matt) can do.The atmosphere is vintage with wall to wall vinyl covers behind the front counter, pastels and gentle, breezy dashes of turquoise and whites whimsically reminiscent of, appropriately, the South Pacific in the 1950s.
We’re taking the boy to Legoland this weekend, but if I were sticking around, I know where I’d be getting my Saturday and Sunday morning coffee. Pacific Social Club will soon go a long way towards making this humble thoroughfare quite a desirable destination.