The Spanish neighbour
By now the name Jose Pizarro has already become synonymous with great Spanish food and the Bermondsey neighbourhood, and less than a year after the swanky tapas bar Jose was opened came Pizarro, an adjacent, yet slightly more proper Spanish eatery focusing on bigger plates of food. There was a spirit of casualness – one long marbled counter facing the street, some big communal tables, a few more intimate booths and a team of attentively helpful FOH. Very casual, yes, though I was not sure if I could stand and eat like at Jose…
Now my honest opinion. My lunch at Pizarro was reliable and good, not mind-blowing. The menu was divided into the usual starters (between £5.5-8), mains (£12-16), and desserts (around £5-6). A freebie of crunchy but raw cauliflower and radishes tossed in olive oil and peppered was a little redundant. Prawns, Jamon, Garlic and Chilli (£8) was decent value for money but lacked the robust sensation that usually comes from the garlic and chilli infused oil. That said, the prawns were very fresh and leaked natural sweetness, while the paper-thin sheets of jamon added a nice salty, porky touch. Lamb’s Tongue (£6) was (I guess) braised in red onions and gherkins and served with a crusty toast. I particularly loved the musty tongue slivers that sponged up the pickle-y tangs and very easily it was the best dish of my meal. The bigger dishes are less impressive. Partridge Escabeche (£15.50) featured a correctly roasted, voluptuous bird and some magnificently roasted potatoes on a bed of soup-y vegetables and nano cubes of Jamon. The taste, however, was disappointing as the escabeche suffered from too much vinegar content. Manchego Canelones, Chard and Pine Nuts (£12) was a dish of cheese with more cheese. The act of spooning through the stringy and gooey Manchego layer to reveal three large, yet very soft pasta tubes filled with chopped chard was exciting. Eating it (by oneself) wasn’t quite so. While I can usually take a lot of cheese, I found the creamy Manchego infusion one dimensional and too rich for the dish to be mopped up. It wasn’t a bad dish but it would have been much nicer if The Other Bib were there to share it.
Desserts? Nada.. I was bloated with cheese and had to snooze desserts until my next visit. From what I ate today, Pizarro was a lovely place but, unlike Jose, not quite an address for me.
GO FOR: Lovely comfort and hang out.
194 Bermondsey Street
Tel. 020 7407 7339