194 Bermondsey St
London SE1 3TQ
If I haven’t been banging on about this enough already, I love my hood. And with restaurants like José, Zucca and The Garrison practically on my doorstep, what’s not to love?
Often being accused of neighbourhood bias, I almost didn’t want to write about Jose Pizarro’s latest opening, but when I accidentally found myself dining here at Pizarro twice in the one week, it definitely justified a review.
Similar to the tapas being served down the road at José, Pizarro extends its offerings beyond small plates to more substantial dishes (still suitable for sharing), a reasonably priced drinks menu featuring a wide range of Cavas, and seating for about 40 people!! Salud!
My first experience of Pizarro was at a “Dine With Dos Hermanos” event last Monday (a week before opening), hosted by Jose and Simon Majumdar; blogger extraordinaire and author of food/travel memoir “Eat My Globe“, one of the many inspirations behind us starting Gourmet Belly!
So apparently the restaurant was still a building site that morning, and it was the first time the chefs behind the kitchen and front of house staff had worked together, but José, and his dedicated team still managed to deliver faultless service and 5 courses of exceptional food with wine and sherry pairings.
So naturally, I couldn’t stop telling everyone about it. And when José confirmed that there would be soft openings later that week at 50% off, my curious friends insisted that I join them for another meal there on Saturday night.
And to be expected, upon our arrival, the restaurant already had an orderly queue forming outside, but we were quickly seated at the front of the restaurant where a large communal table made from old wine crate panels adorned the table top. A nice touch…
As the Spanish proverb goes, “The belly rules the mind”, and that it did, because I had only just finished a late lunch two hours prior, and here we were, practically ordering every entree on the menu.
The squid with potatoes and allioli was one of the winning starters for me. Perfectly cooked tender squid, and just the right about of garlic in the allioli bind the dish together. Our Jerusalem artichoke soup with truffle oil topped with monchego cheese was moreish, and the vinegary boquerones with roasted peppers and black olives, reminded me of the tapas we devoured in San Sebastian. DELISH.
The ham croquetas were a familiar choice, and hit the spot as always, while the grilled chilli garlic prawns (also served at José), were improved (if that was at all possible) with slices of Serrano ham. It really was heaven on a plate.
I was slightly underwhelmed by the butternut squash with blue cheese, which my vegetarian friend happily demolished, and despite the quail romesco being flavoursome with hints of lemon thyme, trying to eat a whole quail while maintaining lady-like table manners just proved to be a little too much effort that night.
By the time our mains arrived, I was seriously stuffed and stressing about how I was going to snap out of this sudden food coma to meet the girls for cocktails out East. But you know me…never one to let food pass me by.
The Hake with black cabbage and clams, and the carnivores choice of lamb, lentils and radicchio still managed to find a way to my mouth. Possibly due to soft opening hastiness, both dishes appeared a little too rare for my liking. But still, the hake was a good texture, and the lamb beautifully seasoned, nonetheless.
Overall, a very enjoyable meal with a bustling vibe. My only regret was literally having to eat and run while my friends stayed behind to mop up the plates with the crusty bread. I suspect I shall be back very soon; if only to appease my curiosity over the chocolate, toast and caramel ice cream, and Cava, pear sorbet I sized up from our fellow diners. Both looked a-mazing!
Restaurant opening hours are from 12 – 3 p.m and from 6 – 11 p.m daily, while the bar is open all day, so plenty of chances to sample their extensive wine and Cava list at the least…
Did You Know?
“Pizarro” does not take bookings, but does have a gorgeous private room at the back of the restaurant which can accommodate up to 12 people. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve.
Following the success of his critically acclaimed cook book “Seasonal Spanish Food”, which was a finalist in the Guild of Food Writers award here in the UK, José Pizarro is due to release his new book in May 2012. Watch this space…