I mentioned recently the beginnings of some exciting stuff happening north of the Leabridge Roundabout in relatively-neglected Upper Clapton. Most notably, some folk who've been making pizzas at the esteemed E5 Bakehouse have recently opened a sourdough pizza restaurant called Sodo at 126 Upper Clapton Road. Loving pizza, sourdough and anything that I can easily walk to, I had to check it out.
Lower Clapton Road is no beauty queen - scruffy, dark and busy with traffic, but Upper Clapton Road can feel even more unforgiving - with bigger estates, faster moving traffic and a sometime sense of abandonment. I've said before that busy roads can be challenging places to make hanging out destinations; that's probably why relatively chilled Chatsworth Road has become such a magnet for cafes.
But Sodo is a brave first, and judging by my experience on Friday night, it will give confidence to prospective businesses that a restaurant in Upper Clapton, done well, can be a real success.
Sodo's premise is simple: a short menu of sourdough based pizzas, a couple of specials and sides, Hackney beer (bottles of London Fields and Beavertown), Borough wine, and a couple of desserts. The look is, naturally, light industrial - exposed bricks, white, chipboard, lots of wires and low hanging bulbs. It feels spacious, fresh and fun - and the waiting staff are very friendly and efficient.
We ordered a Sunny Goat (goats cheese, sundried tomato, rocket) and a Lorena (feta, butternut squash, rosemary, pine nut). Both really excellent combinations - the goats cheese was top quality because I could eat it without needing to replace the taste with something else (!), and Lorena tasted very autumnal - the pine nuts and squash giving a real earthy warmth. The sourdough pizza bases were excellent - nicely tart, just the right balance of springiness and crispiness.
Their dessert menu was equally succinct and on-the-money - tiramisu or affogato. Tiramisu is my all time favourite dessert, so I had to see how theirs fared. Served in a dainty glass, the mascarpone was not-too-sweet and the sponge was soaked in nice bitter coffee - it felt like a puritan's tiramisu, stripped back and good for it.
We loved Sodo - it had a really laid back atmosphere, and quick enough turnover that meant everyone who rocked up over the course of the evening got a table straight away without the bustle ceasing. It's a no-bookings place, so it will be interesting to see whether its very likely increase in popularity will manifest in queues or other places moving in to soak up the demand. Either way, get yourself to Sodo if you love pizza.