Admiring the Pacific Rim postcards and tiki mask, the wall covered in vinyl inner sleeves (Columbia, Decca, ‘race records’ pioneer Okeh) and a dresser of teacups that seems to have been stolen from a Victorian parlour, we were charmed by this addition to the welter of weeny cafés that have descended on all quarters of Hackney in the last few months.
The food and drinks here are inventive, though not flawless. Our flat white (the makings come from Broadway Market’s Climpson & Sons) seemed a bit long on the white, and we enjoyed the idea of a fig, gorgonzola and Parma ham toastie a little more than the execution – it was too heavy on the fig for the saltiness of the cheese and ham to really come through.
The Venezuelan sandwich was great – a generous mash-up of chorizo, morcilla, black beans, avocado and cheese – but a little soggy, perhaps because we ate it later as a takeaway.
Still, the cakes were a resounding success, whether the tooth-suckingly sweet crème fraîche and iced raspberry muffin, which was winningly served with a cake fork on an antique saucer; or an excellently moist Oreo brownie.
For the sweaty summer’s day of our visit, a mint and apple smoothie – recommended by the cheery young waitress – was a total winner.
Above all, it’s the atmosphere of this place that raises it above the competition. There’s the little bookshelf where Graham Robb’s Rimbaud biography sits alongside Charlotte Berney’s ‘The Fundamentals of Hawaiian Mysticism’, and there’s the ‘analogue library’, which means crackly blue beat or psych guitar LPs are played through a Pacific Revelator speaker at conversation-friendly volume.
Pacific Social describes itself as a ‘drop-out centre’ – we heartily approve of that lack of ambition.