Test Drives

pizarromain

So what should we know about José Pizarro, the restaurant?

This is the Spanish chef's third London restaurant and his first north of the river (both Jose and Pizarro are in Bermondsey). It's part of the impressive new Broadgate Circle development.

Where is it?

On the ground floor of the development, beside The Botanist.

Where should I meet friends for a drink first?

The most obvious answer would be The Botanist which is large and right next door. But Beany Green just round the corner is also open for drinks in the evening too and might be a quieter bet if you're not into large City crowds.

Where should I sit?

There's a rather nice high table which looked like a fun option for a group or you could prop yourself up at the bar. If the weather's promising, a terrace table here would be just the ticket.

So, the food, what should we have?

This is José Pizarro, the question really is what can you bear to leave out? We kicked things off with a plate of Jamon Iberico (obvs - £23), Pan Con Tomate (£3.50) and the dish we're still dreaming out days later - Jose's prawn fritters with a spike of chilli and served up with saffron aioli (£8.50). Those things are dangerously addictive.

The house croquetas change every day - ours were white crab and mixed mushrooms (and a steal at £6.50).

From here you have a choice to graze through various small dishes, or ramp it up with their tinned fish or large dishes. Our picks from the small dishes were both excellent: Asparagus grilled on the plancha and served up with a fried duck egg and some of the best Romanesco sauce we've ever had (£7.50) Grilled octopus with baby tomatoes, pimenton and Arbequina olive oil (£10)- if you love octopus then you're going to REALLY love this.

For the mains, we'd managed somehow never to try Jose's famed Presa Iberico which we rectified now. As with Hawksmoor, you choose the size of cut (it's a punchy £13.50 per 100g) and it's served sliced up, beautifully rare with fried padron peppers and roasted Jersey royals.

The dessert menu is short - just three choices and all £6. Almond cake was perfectly lovely but you'll be kicking yourself if you don't order the chocolate with olive oil and served up with shards of toasted bread and flecked with salt.

And to drink?

Both our wines came directly recommended by José and were spot on. To match the jamon we had a wonderfully complex Fino en Rama, Fernando de Castilla - bottled straight from the cask, unfiltered. But the best was the bottle of red he picked for our mains - the Huerta de Albala Taberner 2010. This was more than a match for our huge platter of presa and so good, we've already tracked it down to the Highbury Vintners so we can buy it again.

Overall thoughts:

Jose has turned out a lovely buzzy place here in Broadgate. It's small enough not to be overcome by hordes of City boys but on the Thursday night we visited, the place was humming. It'll be wonderful on a proper summer's night. If we had any niggles, we'd have preferred a wider salad or vegetable choice - there were a lot of potatoes on that menu and we say that as second generation Irish. We'll be back to work our way through the rest of the small dishes and the conservas (tinned fish).

It's a lovely addition to the City and bound to be more widely popular with North Londoners come the weekend.

Hot Dinners were invited to Jose Pizarro. Prices are correct at the time of writing.  

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