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|Address:||194 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3TQ|
|Tel:||020 3551 2868|
|Price: £44.00||Wine: £19.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sat 12N-11pm Sun 10am-10pm|
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I dunno, you wait for London's tapas king to open one new restaurant, and two come along at almost the same time… No one was at all surprised when Jose Pizarro of Brindesa fame opened up jewel box perfect Jose on Bermondsey Street a year or so ago, there was a little more surprise when it was followed up less than a year later by bigger brother Pizarro a few doors down.
If the impression is that these are a couple of places he's thrown together, then it works. Jose is a absolute favourite for post work sherry and a pincho from the authentic little bar cum kitchen in the tiny space. I remember taking a Madrileno friend prior to dinner at nearby Zucca and after a swift but heated argument with the bartender on the best sherry on the menu and two plates of their heavenly croqueta, he happily declared it the equal of anywhere in Madrid.
Pizarro is a different level to the bustle of Jose. It's a significant step up in size for one, and though there's window seating and bar service, the majority of the covers occupy dark, masculine furniture evocative of a high end wine shop. We took a seat at the marble bar and eyed up the short menu.
While everything is available for sharing as you'd expect from the tapas king, there's a slightly more ordered approach here, with the menu broken up into small and large plates. We went for two of each, which arrived in that order, much in the manner of a starter and a main course…
As well as some of the divine jamon croquetas, we went with razor clams to start. Served in their shells with lashings of garlicky butter and sticky nuggets of chorizo to contrast with the soft flesh of the shellfish, they were perfectly well cooked if not quite to my taste, I traded the last one for another go on the croquetas, an outcome that suited both parties. Of the mains, we shared a slightly one dimensional if well conceived dish of roasted root vegetables and curdy but bland goats cheese. The other shared ‘main’ was as lovely a lump of roasted lamb as I've had in some time, soused in good oil and dotted with olives, insanely tasty little flavour bombs when crisped in the hot oven.
It wasn't as busy as I was expecting, possibly less surprising as it was a mid week lunch later in service. In itself not a problem, though it did deaden the mood slightly. I'd definitely recommend an evening table shared with friends. You can go through most of the menu between 4 or 5 of you and with the help of an exceptionally well chosen wine list and the knowledgable, friendly staff have a very acceptable night out.