Eco Restaurant’s Really Fun Food

The following comments are reproduced from a respected online London restaurant review site:

“The Pizzas are the best in London. Very good service as well as really nice to look at!!! Good crowd and great music. The ideal place to go often.”

“First Class food and service. Eco’s pizza’s are without doubt the best in town and their salads are so fresh and tasty. It’s also easy on the wallet which is handy in this climate. The service is always upbeat and just like their orignal in Clapham the place was buzzing, a great place to line your stomach before you hit the town! Just a shame there were no frogs legs pizza’s on the menu, I was so looking forward to that!”

“I love this place! They have the most delicious lasagne I have ever tasted and their pizzas are out of this world. Prices are reasonable and staff are friendly and attentive.”

“Really fabulous pizzas. The bases are amazing, perfectly cooked and completely fresh – never soggy or boggy. Toppings are all fresh and really well executed, with some unusual combinations which work really well! The al forno is incredible value. Wine list good and very reasonable. Great atmosphere – but does get pop-music-tastic in the late evenings, friendly staff, pretty perfect actually! “

It is always nice to be appreciated. What pleases most of all is that every commentator speaks not only of the quality of the food served up at the increasingly popular Clapham North restaurant that is Eco, but also of the atmosphere. Eating at Eco is not only a great culinary experience. Dining at Eco is fun.

At Eco Restaurants we pride ourselves on providing an enjoyable experience for our customers as well as really good, fresh, healthy food at a seriously competitive price.

A pizza worth getting off the Clapham Omnibus for

The nineteenth century journalist Walter Bagehot once expressed his view that “Public opinion…is the opinion of the bald-headed man at the back of the omnibus.”

In 1903 Charles Bowen QC, when hearing a case for negligence, stated: “’We must ask ourselves what the man on the Clapham omnibus would think.”

His view of Clapham, one assumes, was that of a comfortable London suburb inhabited by “decent” and “ordinary” people whom one could use as yardstick with which to gauge common-sense, middle-class opinion such as it was in the day. Presumably the decent and ordinary thing to do was to use the omnibus as a means of getting about.

At that time of course all the omnibuses in London were horse-drawn. Only in 1916 were all the bus routes in London finally taken over by motorised vehicles. Bowen’s words were in fact not the only claim to fame of the Clapham Omnibus.

About forty years previously one Friedrich Kekule von Stradonitz, a young German chemist, was working at a laboratory at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. Having fallen asleep one day on the omnibus he had a dream that was going to totally revolutionise organic chemistry. He wrote of his dream: “…the atoms were gambolling before my eyes…I saw how the longer ones formed a chain…[and then] the cry of the conductor ‘Clapham Road’ awakened me from my dreaming…."

After having taken something of a turn for the worse during the earlier part of the last century Clapham became fashionable and is now a popular venue for socialising and eating.

We like to believe that Eco Restaurant in Clapham High Street is one of the best restaurants in Clapham offering an impressive range of mouth-watering pizzas and other culinary delights, good wine and excellent service.

Give it a try next time you are passing on the Clapham Omnibus.

Team Eco – A Winning Side

Who are these people who make the best loved restaurant in Clapham Common the choice venue for pizza enthusiasts that it is today?

Well, in the beginning was the Creator, known to some as Sami Wasif. When Sami created Eco Restaurants his stated aim was to “push the boundaries of the people’s expectation of food (beyond the mere satisfactory)”.

He developed Eco’s unique sourdough pizza, a process that has been continuing over two decades. It is a process that combines different types of flour and opts for natural fermentation to deliver a unique pizza base that is full-flavoured yet healthy and enjoyable to eat.

Operations and creativity are the responsibility of Charmaine Wasif, Sami’s daughter. Charmaine was born into the catering industry, but she left behind a potential career in architecture to return to her vocational roots. Charmaine currently focuses on the creative and marketing side of the operation.

Jannett Jindi started her career at Eco as a kitchen porter and then a waiter despite having gained a degree at the University of Sudan, and has worked her way up to the role of Administration Manager and Personal Assistant to Sami. Jannett now takes care of all the administrative work involved with the business.

Finances meanwhile are taken care of by George Gergis, who like Jannett started his Eco career “at the kitchen sink”. His role includes purchase manager, stock control and wages.

These key people, along with the whole team of chefs, waiters, waitresses and managers, work together to create and to bring to you the most talked about Clapham pizza. Every member of the workforce is valued for his or her creative talent in bringing about the best pizza that one can buy for miles around.

It is strength in depth, as well as just at the top, that gives the Eco Restaurant family the edge in both product and service.

The Origins of Pizza

These days we take the pizza for granted, but how often do we reflect upon this tasty and nutritional meal and consider where and when it first came into being?

As a basic seasoned flatbread the pizza’s origins could arguably be traced back to several Mediterranean cultures. The Greeks and the Phoenicians would cook theirs by placing it onto a hot stone and seasoning it with herbs. The Greeks called this plankuntos and it perhaps more resembled focaccia than a modern-day pizza.

Some believe the word “pizza” to have derived from the Latin pinsa, meaning “flat bread”. Archaeologists are even said to have discovered a preserved a Bronze Age version of the dish in the region of Veneto.

Mozzarella cheese came to be added to the dish with the introduction to Italy of the Indian Water Buffalo. The richness of the cheese that was produced from buffaloes’ milk enables producers to use less of it to the same effect. It is also generally higher in protein and minerals than the more traditional cows’ milk. Mozzarella di bufala remains to this day a favoured ingredient for aficionados.

The remaining essential ingredient of the modern pizza is of course the tomato. This was brought to Europe from the Americas in the sixteenth century and was originally thought to be poisonous!

Whatever the origins of the seasoned flatbread which constitutes the pizza base – and variants have been found to have existed in Persia, Palestine and further into Asia as well in Greece and Phoenicia (and obviously Italy) – that of the modern Margherita is not in any doubt. The baker Raffaele Esposito worked at a pizzeria which was established in 1880 and still operates under the name “Pizzeria Brandi”. In 1889 he baked a pizza that evoked the three colours of the Italian flag – basil (green), mozzarella cheese (white) and tomatoes (red) for the visit of King Umberto I and Queen Margherita of Savoy. The Queen liked the pizza so much that it was named in her honour.

Today in our popular Clapham takeaway and restaurant we continue the proud Italian tradition of good nutritious toppings on a light seasoned base, although now of course there are many more options available to our customers. We like to think the Eco Restaurant, Clapham has found its own little place in history.

Back to Pizza School

You may not be aware of it, but the Eco Restaurant is far more than just the best restaurant in Clapham.

It is in fact a hub for the young and the not so young to enjoy themselves, at our Kids’ Pizza School, at a morning meeting or networking event, or at a party later in the day for up to seventy people.

At the Pizza School we run lessons in making pizzas. Usually they are managed by our head chef Ahmos on Saturday mornings, although sometimes they are run by a manager. You receive a t-shirt, then some information about how to make the dough and add the toppings. You will be given some written information, then a demonstration of how it all comes together. Then, at the end of it all, you will be awarded a certificate to take home. Sometimes our young visitors organise for their friends to come along to Pizza School as part of their birthday celebrations.

We believe it is good for children to see what goes into their food, and how it is made. Eco Restaurant takes pride in the healthy and nutritious fare that we provide to our customers.

For the older ones, in fact for any age group, we cater for parties. You can organise your own menu. You can order any cake you wish, and it will be delivered to the event. We can accommodate groups of up to 70 people.

The other type of event that we can provide for is the morning meeting or conference. You can request a breakfast buffet, a full breakfast or coffee and pastries. These can be booked from early in the morning up until midday.

When it comes to Clapham Common events, Eco Restaurant is accommodating and versatile. We are not just a restaurant, we operate at the heart of our local community. We are so proud of the good food and good service that we provide to our customers we want you to come and see for yourself, and share in what we do.

Whatever your age, wherever you are, come and enjoy our work with us.

The Elvis Pizza

A couple of years ago I visited the world famous Eden Project. For the benefit of the unfamiliar the project describes itself as “a top gardens and conservation tourist attraction and educational charity in Cornwall”.

One of the attractions at the Eden Project was a feature called “Elvis’ Pizza”. In groups of no more than four at a time, visitors climbed into a London taxi cab which rocked around on a pole to give an impression that it was being driven (if I recall correctly there was even a dummy taxi driver sat at the front!), whilst a video played with a narrative going into some detail on the subject of what was reputed to be Elvis Presley’s favourite pizza.

Now I would not want to criticise the King of Rock’n’Roll, but the man did like to eat. And apparently the ingredients for his pizza of choice were shipped in from the four corners of the globe. “Elvis’ Pizza” inspired one to think about just how much fossil fuel was burned in the cause of bringing one man his favoured snack. He must have had a carbon footprint like the Yeti.

We know better today, of course. Many shops and restaurants source their supplies locally and take other measures to ensure that their food is produced with as little damage to the environment as is at all possible. Ideally we aim to put back whatever we take out. This applies not only to purchasing ingredients, but also to such aspects as disposing of waste and eco-friendly packaging.

At Eco Restaurant, Clapham High Street, we pride ourselves on our commitment to ecology. Carefully sourced produce is not only environmentally friendly, but healthier too. Composting waste food meets better hygiene and a dramatic reduction in packaging and waste. Everyone is a winner.

Sadly Elvis never made it to our restaurant, but if he had I’ve no doubt he would have been convinced. The best restaurant in Clapham, after all, has just got to be fit for a King.

Merthyr Tydfil Pizza Anyone?

I found an interesting, not to mention highly amusing clip on the video social network YouTube the other day involving a man from Merthyr Tydfil who phoned his local supermarket to complain that the pizza he had bought from the store earlier in the day did not have any topping. No cheese, no tomatoes – anything. Almost resigned to having to go hungry, only some way into his call did he realise that he had opened the box upside down and that the topping was actually there in all its splendour on the “bottom”.

Why do I mention this, and apart from the common pizza theme what exactly does this story have to do with a respected Clapham Common restaurant?

Not a great deal I must admit, except that it reminds us that in today’s rush and grab society too many people are prepared to settle for instant, out-of-a-box, often low quality food. Pizza comes on a base, in our case with a unique and healthy salt dough recipe, not out of a box. I don’t know what the precise ingredients of a pizza originating from that particular supermarket are, but the man on the telephone might have actually done himself a favour had his purchase indeed lacked the topping that transpired to be on the bottom.

At our Clapham restaurant we source the finest and healthiest ingredients with a view not just to satisfying an appetite but also to producing good quality, nutritional food. Food that is actually safe to consume as well as easy.

At Eco Restaurants we take healthy eating seriously, producing pizzas that comprise a good portion of fresh, wholesome ingredients atop a light, healthy and tasty base. We combine this with an ecological and socially responsible approach, from waste disposal to packaging.

Next time you are comparing restaurants on Clapham High Street come and take a look at what it is we have to offer. I just know you are going to like what you see.

Why ‘In’ And ‘On’ Are Much More Different Than Simply A Single Letter

Our kids pizza school is well known for providing kids with a fun-filled Saturday morning discovering how to make the perfect Eco pizza, with all their favourite toppings. Whether making it or eating it is more fun I’m not sure, but certainly the kids seem to enjoy both!

But last week I was struck by something one of the children said to me right at the beginning. Perhaps what struck me more was the fact that I was struck by his comment at all. Let me explain.

Just as we were preparing to get started one of the boys asked me ‘what goes in to a pizza?’

Now that might seem a perfectly innocent question to you, and so it is. Except that I couldn’t help noticing that he had asked what goes in to a pizza, rather than what goes on a pizza. Because it’s perhaps one of the most natural things a child might ask when they’re told they’re going to make a pizza, or have a pizza. We think of pizza toppings – our choice of ingredients that go on top. But of course that’s only the topping – the pizza base is very much part of the deal, and yet often it’s ignored.

Of course, at Eco we have never ignored the base, and in fact came up with our own unique pizza base salt dough recipe for a light, tasty and healthy pizza base. It’s what we teach at the pizza school. But just as we’ve spent years thinking about what goes in to our pizzas, most people just think about what goes on them.

Except this boy last week. Was it just an accidental phrased? An unintentional choice of preposition? Or was there really more of an understanding about the fact that the food we eat is comprised entirely of ingredients, and we have a choice over every one of them. Just as we have more of a choice than simply what goes on top of a pizza, so we have a choice about what goes in to our meals.

It’s too easy to be blind to the poor ingredients, and artificial ingredients going in to our food, seeing them only as the base we don’t see because of the more obvious ingredients piled on top.

Here’s to more children asking about what goes in to their food, and certainly at Eco we’ll keep encouraging children at our kids pizza school to think about the choices that too often are completely overlooked.

780 Miles Is A Long Way To Run For A Pizza…

I’m sure there are many people who feel eminently deserving of a Clapham pizza at the end of a tiring day. However, I would very much doubt that many of those deserving customers would have earned their Clapham pizza quite as indisputably as one Jason Arday.

A local lecturer, Jason has been aiming to achieve the astonishing task of running 30 marathons in 35 days. Naturally there is method behind this apparent madness, because he is raising money for Shelter and the Shooting Star Children’s Hospice in Hampton. So far he’s run 24 marathons, and raised over £5,200. Many people in the Clapham area have seen him running, and he certainly looks set to achieve his target.

When he does, then I would imagine a Clapham pizza about the size of Clapham Common will be the order of the day! But of course, it isn’t any old Clapham pizza that will do. Many pizzas are heavy and fill you up without being completely satisfying. Of course many have so many calories ladled on to them that you’d need to go and run 30 marathons just to burn them all up!

If you’ve ever been to Eco Restaurant to sample our unique Clapham pizza then you’ll be aware that our pizza base doesn’t suffer from the same problems many others do. A Pizza base should be light and tasty, but too many are heavy, bland and end up being left on the side of the plate. What’s needed for Jason, and anyone else who needs a good, wholesome meal that’s tasty, nutritious and won’t blow the entire week’s calories budget in a single course, is an Eco special, made with our own original recipe for salt dough, which makes for a much healthier, lighter and tastier base. Then of course we use only the best, freshest ingredients on top, and served up for a complete gastronomic workout.

By the way, if you would like to sponsor Jason, you can do so by visiting here: http://www.justgiving.com/jasonjogs30in35, and if you’d like to sponsor your taste buds, you can do so at Eco any time!

In Search Of The Typical Clapham Restaurant

Someone asked me recently whether we’re a typical Clapham restaurant. What does that mean? Are we typical? We are, after all a restaurant, and no one can deny that we’re well and truly in Clapham. So if a typical Clapham restaurant is a restaurant in Clapham, I guess we’re it.

But often people seem to think that the location of a restaurant is often one which seems to generate several very similar restaurants. One Italian restaurant seems to result in a plethora of them sooner or later. In many ways this might be true, but we believe that we stand out because of several things that are far from typical.

To start with, we’re not just a restaurant. Yes, obviously there’s the takeaway aspect, and not everyone offers that. But there’s also our kids pizza school. We’re very proud of that, and in all honesty very few restaurants, whether in Clapham or anywhere else, take the trouble to help kids appreciate what goes in to their food, how food is made, and how to take more of an interest in what they out into their mouths.

I happen to think it’s important to teach kids about food. I’d go so far as to suggest it’s our duty, all of us, but all too often it’s very difficult to find the opportunities. When so much food is simply opened, slopped into a bowl and blasted with radiation before being slapped onto a plate and dumped in front of the television it’s no surprise that kids have little interest in knowing more about where their food comes from.

To be honest, I don’t think I’d want to know what goes in to most of the ready meals available at the supermarket. I might never eat again!

But our pizza school does make us unique, not just as a Clapham restaurant, but very nearly in general. Then of course there are our recipes, all of them unique and special to us. Are we a typical Clapham restaurant? I sincerely hope not – we’ve tried very hard to be as different as possible!