So how's the original outpost of growing tapas juggernaut of Brindisa doing since I last visited? Not as well as I'd hoped unfortunately…
Situated on the corner of Borough Market's southern corner, no bookings Brindesa was always a tough (and tiny) table to score, light wood interior filled with souls exiting the market laden with goodies, unable to wait until their home before sampling them. The unlucky masses would look on through the floor to ceiling windows and resolve to turn up earlier next week.
A recent midweek trip to the neighbourhood let me pop in for lunch on one of the less screwily busy days for the restaurant before the market next door grunts into life on a Friday.
The menu is still a organic shopper's wet dream, everything veggie sourced from the nearby stalls while meats and spices come from the Brindesa shop, hotfoot from the best suppliers in their Spanish homeland. The joy has always been that you don't want to wait until you get home from the market, mainly because what the kitchen can do with the same handful of ingredients is infinitely better than anything you could manage.
We've been spoilt by Jose, and the jamon croquetas he now serves up on Bermonsey Street. Those are light, fresh and heaven sent, these lumpen cigars of gluey mash under a too thick oily carapace just don't cut the mustard. Huevos Rotos – broken eggs over fried potatoes and Iberico pork sobrasada – is unevenly cooked. Soft slices of spud seemingly decanted into a lukewarm serving dish, the egg just the wrong side of soft and the sobrasada, a thickly spiced tomato based sauce, huddled in one corner under a slice of waxen potato. A great idea, and one I'm looking forward to borrowing for an inevitably hungover brunch, but there's nothing here any reasonably home chef couldn't improve on.
Sautéed chicken livers with an onion and caper dressing were fine, and well cooked. If I'd just taken a plate of that with a muscular minerally and obscenely dry sherry, I'd no doubt be hurrahing from the rooftops.
Compared to a recent revisit to gracefully ageing Barrafina, the team at Tapas Brindisa have got some way to go to regain their crown. If you're in the area, nip round to Bermondsey Street and see what their old boss Jose Pizzaro is up to at his brace of eponymous restaurants, either one of them easily has the measure of Brindisa I'm sad to say…