José Pizarro has well and truly plonked Bermondsey Street onto the culinary map with his two restaurants José and Pizarro. José is a tiny sherry and tapas bar at one end of the street and Pizarro is a full sized sit-down restaurant at the other.
I’ve been to Pizarro quite a few times – usually very late and I’ve always been horrendously drunk. The atmosphere has always been buzzy and the food has always been delicious. Seeing that they started doing a set lunch menu – or the ‘menú del dia’ to give it the proper title, I decided to have a lunch-for-one and give it a go.
The menu was presented on a small piece of paper – it was 2 courses for £17 or 3 for £20. I obviously opted for the 3 courses.
I was seated at a long bar against the window overlooking Bermondsey Street (which was great for people watching). There’s a bar with stool seating which looks onto the open plan kitchen, the rest of the restaurant is made up of smaller tables and then a large bench table.
Some bread and tomatoes kicked things off. Who knew that seasoned tomatoes drizzled with olive oil could taste so good? I don’t know where they buy their tomatoes from but it certainly ain’t from Sainsbury’s on Bermondsey Square. They had bags of flavour – and the spongey bread was the perfect tool to soak up all the delicious oily juice.
I ordered the chicken, apple and red onion salad for starter. The apples had been made into a purée and there was a generous (maybe too generous) dollop of the stuff on the bottom of the plate. It was sweet and tangy and went brilliantly with the peppery red onion. The chicken was cooked to perfection – I’ve never had such tender chicken served cold before. My only criticism would be that the whole dish was rather sweet – didn’t stop me eating all of it though.
For main I ordered the pork belly with mash potatoes. The quality of the pork was sublime – and the belly had a salty crunchy crackling top which was satisfyingly yummy. The mash was buttery and wonderfully smooth – the addition of a few salty capers dotted around seasoned it perfectly. As lovely as this was I definitely wanted some kind of veg – it would have been nice if the waiter had suggested a side dish.
My dessert sounded totally intriguing – bread, chocolate, olive oil and salt. This came in the form of a thick chocolate mousse with shards of crunchy bread drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt. The combination of flavours and textures worked brilliantly. If I had less manners I would have licked the plate clean – it was bloomin’ lovely.
As I was on my own (and I hate eating on my own because I get lonely) the waiters made me feel very comfortable – service was friendly and efficient. For £20 I had a really lovely lunch, making Pizarro a rather delightful addition to Bermondsey Street.