Pizarro is the latest restaurant to join the hip foodie hubbub that is Bermondsey Street in South East London. Its the second venture from Spanish chef-of-the-moment Jose Pizarro, following on from Jose, his successful Spanish tapas bar just a few doors down.
More formal than the cafe atmosphere of Jose down the road, Pizarro offers the same simple, gutsy Spanish cuisine with just a bit more panache. Black leather banquettes, brick walls, subdued lighting and beautifully crafted Bull chairs (inspired by the curved horns of a bull) combine to create a convivial, warm and relaxed interior redolent of New York eateries. A hardwood wooden ceiling (oak, mahogany and sapele) brings textural contrast to the brick, a hint of Scandinavian cool, and cleverly absorbs the sound of surrounding chatter, meaning its never a struggle to hold a conversation with your dining partner.
Formerly at Brindisa (and before that Eyre Brothers and Gaudi), the Spanish food importers, Pizarro has long-established contacts with the top food producers in Spain and his jamon from Manuel Maldonado is considered one of the very best. At £20 a plate for two its not cheap, but its melt-in-your-mouth heaven. Other dishes include the typical Spanish hake with lentils, which on ELLEuk's visit was perfectly cooked (no mean feat with hake), and secreto Iberico (slow-cooked pork). Puddings were delicious Cava and and Pear sorbet was a perfect palate cleanser but, disappointingly on a chilly night, there was no warm dessert on the menu.
Theres a good range of Spanish wines ranging from £18 to £50. A lovely touch, though, is that the wine is available in 250ml carafes that allow you to match wines to each course. And dont miss out on the patsaran, a Campari-coloured Spanish digestif with the gentlest hint of aniseed it will round off your meal perfectly.
The ELLEuk Score
Good for: special occasions; first dates; romantic meals
Address: 194 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 STQ
Style of food: High-class Spanish
Reservations are only available at lunch. At evenings and weekends, you just have to turn up.
Prices and Other Details at Pizarro
Opening times: 12-3pm then 6-11pm; Sundays 10am-10pm
Average price per person for two-course meal without wine: £24
Price of bottle of house wine: £18, 2010 Marqués de la Villa, Malvasia, Toro (white); and £18, 2010 Honoro Vera, Monastrell/Shiraz, Jumilla (red)
Price of glass of house wine: £6.50 for a carafe (as above)
Price of bottle of house champagne: Cava £24.5, NV Mas Maciá, Brut, Macabeo/Xarel.lo/Parellada
Price of glass of house champagne: £4.5 (as above)
Private dining? Yes. There's a private dining room (with no hire fee) for up to nine people
Garden/al fresco dining? No
Who goes? Foodies and hispanophiles
Nearest tube: London Bridge and Bermondsey Tube stations are both around a 10-15 minute walk away from Pizarro.
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