Spanish Highs At Pizarro, Bermondsey

23rd July 2018

With numerous cookbooks to his name, José Pizarro is as famous a celebrity chef as most on the London restaurant scene. Often regarded as ‘the godfather of Spanish cuisine', he made Spanish tapas sexy when he became chef/partner at the famous Brindisa restaurant chain in 2003. Pizarro is his headline restaurant in leafy Bermondsey which is still bringing in the masses even with newer tapas restaurants opening in recent years trying to copy José's success.

Despite his world-famous name, the restaurant doesn't feel pretentious or stuffy, they make abundant use of natural wood along with some Andalusian blue ceramic tiles to give the venue a Spanish accent. During our visit, they were doing a promotion to celebrate the launch of Flor de Sevilla, so the restaurant was transformed into a sunny orange grove with ubiquitous amounts of Seville oranges dotted throughout the restaurant. We naturally tried a glass of the citrusy delight which was served with premium Mediterranean tonic and a squeeze of fresh orange; it was the perfect drink to enjoy on a warm summer's night.

The menu was naturally very meat-focused with the likes of Presa Ibérica and Castilian leg of suckling lamb but that didn't stop my vegetarian guest enjoying his visit. They offered endive salad as well as grilled asparagus for starters, but he went for a side dish instead to accompany his main course: Pisto, which was a flavoursome stew of tomato, aubergine, peppers, and onions. The roasted cauliflower head cooked at Pizarro was as expertly executed as anywhere we've tried recently: it had rich flavours, an excellent texture which offered some bite and wasn't overcooked. However, this is the kind of dish best for sharing as after your umpteenth bite, you might yearn for some different textures and flavours.

Prawn carpaccio, on the other hand, did offer unusual surprises; it's not a dish I've seen anywhere else in London and is served warm. The bulk of the dish was healthy tomatoes, I suspect possibly the bull's heart variety as they tasted quite fleshy with thin slithers of prawns served on top. Whilst highly enjoyable, I do prefer the bulk of a dish being the main descriptor on the menu.

The main course was a well-portioned grilled veal loin, you suspect the meat might have been treated prior to cooking as it tasted impossibly soft and tender and despite the size, it wasn't a dish that felt heavy at all.

Dessert is a course which most people skip, but at Pizarro, you must order their cream cheese ice cream with pear compote. It is one of those odd flavours in an ice cream that sound so wrong but actually tastes immaculate and the texture is so smooth, you probably wish you could ski down a slope made completely of this dreamy dessert.
Bookings are highly recommended, as during our visit there seemed to be an endless queue of people trying to get a coveted table at the restaurant.
For more information on Pizarro see here.
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