I am a huge fan of Jose Pizarro . My idea of a perfect Saturday morning begins with a walk down to Brough Market where I buy a Bread Ahead doughnut to keep my hunger in check until I reach Bermondsey Street and José, the tapas bar on the corner of Leathermarket Street. I try to arrive just a moment or two before the doors open at midday, so as to grab the seats at the bar closest to the window where I’ve been know to sit for a couple of hours or more eating delicious food, sipping fine sherries and wine and talking to other addicts of this very special place.
Whilst I have eaten at, and enjoyed, the more restaurant styled Pizarro I love the intimacy of José and when it comes to Spanish food it’s the joy of small plates, tapas, done well that excites me.
Now José has reconnected both parts of his name and opened José Pizarro at the newly revamped Broadgate Circle, where I ate this week, seated at the welcoming counter, as a guest of the restaurant.
Here we have a printed menu with a combination of small, medium and larger dishes, the feel is more “city” than either place on Bermondsey Street but that is only to be expected, we are after all a pebble throw from Liverpool St Station.
It was a warm evening and the Circle was buzzing with folk, recently spewed from air-conditioned offices, relaxing on one of the first truly summery nights this year.
I have developed a strategy for tapas bars, one I learnt in Spain and that is to order a couple of plates and a drink then reassess my hunger, ordering more as and when I need. This might sound simple but for those of us used to ordering an enitire meal in one go from the waiter, asking for a couple of small dishes can feel quite revolutionary.
Pan con tomate is a favourite, I always order it first off when I arrive in Malaga, along with a plate of Jamon Iberico, but having eaten my body weight in just that at Jason Atherton’s new Social Wine and Tapas, of which more another time, I chose the croquettes and shrimp fritters. Both were excellent the croquettes both hammy and cheesy, the shrimps much more prawn in size and none the worse for that.
Grilled baby gem lettuce is all the vogue now but has been on Spanish menus for many years I love it served as it was here heavy with anchovy and roasted peppers and the melt in the mouth octopus, smoked up a little with pimenton might have been improved with a touch more char but was sweet and tender.
I shared dish of chocolate, olive oil, toast and salt and found to my surprise that I loved it. I don’t normally enjoy chocolate desserts but this was complex in taste and texture.
Service was attentive, not just for us who were known to the restaurant, but also for those around us and the evening was a great success. If you sense a little hesitation you would be right. I enjoyed José Pizarro very much, but somehow the essence of the place was a little too modern for me and I hankered for my window seat in Bermondsey .
José Pizarro Broadgate