I wanted to write about lots of things at Pizarro, the newest restaurant on Bermondsey Street. I even sketched a little mind map as part of my writing/procrastination process. There are quite a few limbs on my straggly spider diagram:
There’s the setting [⇒ lovely space ⇒ tactile dark hardwood, marble tops, Iberican tiles like at José ⇒ window seats and bar eating ⇒ convivial looking PDR ⇒ GREAT (underline, bold, italics) date place (“if she doesn’t fall in love with you, it’s probably you”]
The man [⇒ permanently working (does he have a twin?) ⇒ nicest guy in restaurants ⇒ Christmas advert with Rick Stein (something like “issa bout the joy offa givin”)]
The starters [⇒ starters or sharing? ⇒ bit spennie for sharing (£6-£7) though some bit small for starters (croquetas) ⇒ simple dishes BUT proper bo ingredients ⇒ beautiful boquerones (white anchovies) w/perfect soft boiled egg, peppers etc, MEATY juicy finger licking prawns w/ smoked cured beef (could take touch more chilli), decent quail w/romesco (almonds, pine nuts, dried pepper) sauce (not so much a sharer)]
The desserts [⇒ nicely contained list ⇒ pear sorbet in cava (bubbly, zingy. Fun/delight) ⇒ ice cream, sweet grapes, PX, sugar almonds. Simple. GOOD]
The sherry and wine [⇒ I love sherry and wine]
But. Oh my. I have just found it really difficult to move on from the main course.
It’s genuinely hard to form a proper sentence without forgetting what I’m. Oh my. Oh my oh my.
Come on man: it was just pork and mashed potato, with a couple of pieces of pepper.
I mean, oh my. Nine days on and the recollection of the absolutely á pointe strips of Secreto Ibérico is still vivid. Overwhelmingly so. Every time I try to write this post, I can still feel the slight crunch and then the melt of the caramelised outside. Then I feel the tender, juicy chew of the pink meat. I can also still taste the saltiness of the pork, which was matched simply but perfectly with the roasted and sweet Piquillo peppers, and the olive oily mash (which worked much better than a buttery or creamy British mash would have done). And I can’t think of much else.
Just pork and mashed potato. But…
I don’t like to build things up too much, to be over zealous when describing a dish or a venue, or to suggest an experience as fantastical. This generally only serves to backfire on both the restaurant and me. For balance (to bring it back down to earth) I note that the pork wasn’t so perfecto for some earlier visitors. But then again, their visit was during the soft opening and soft openings are all about perfecting dishes, systems and service. And for me, this pork dish really was good, and has (quite obviously) become the dominant memory of my first visit to Pizarro. So, well, that’s what I have to report.
Pizarro is a place that deserves more considered, more analytical, and ultimately better prose than I’ve pumped out here. Apologies that’s not happened; it’s simply not my fault.
You should be comforted to know, though, that had I written out my mind map as per normal, there wouldn’t have been too much more than in those notes above.
Indeed I expect I’d have concluded that, if you go, you will enjoy the setting; that the private dining room will be amongst the most welcoming and enjoyable in London; that José Pizarro (or his twin or hologram) is highly likely to be there (or down the road at his sherry bar) and will look knackered but rightly proud; that the ingredients, whether for starters, sharers, main courses or desserts, will be impeccably sourced (so some prices reflect this); and that, boys, if you take a girl there and she doesn’t fall in love with you, it’s probably you.
It’s likely I would also have said that I recommend you have the pork.
[The photos below are, again, by Paul Winch Furness. At least on this occasion we were eating together. So I can confirm that second picture is the pork. There's more food porn from our meal at www.paulwf.co.uk/indulgences.]
Pizarro in 3 words
The pork’s good.
Starters are £6-7 each, though you may be tempted by more than one each. Mains are around £15. Desserts £6. The sherry and wine list is very good, if not especially cheap (though sherry is always good value).
www.josepizarro.com - 194 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3UB – 020 7378 9455
For full disclosure, Snr Pizarro unexpectedly and unnecessarily comped our meal for us. I’m confident I would have written the same if my card had been charged; I’ll certainly be back, which should provide some comfort.