I have always been a little critical of the Spanish cuisine, it's emphasis on sharing cured meats as part of the tapas experience not exactly ideal to a none meat-eater with plenty of meat eating friends. Of course there is a lot more to tapas, something that I was able to experience during a visit to the legendary Jose tapas bar on London's Bermondsey street a few years back. On that occasion I learnt about the wonders of patatas bravas, crispy chunks of potatoes wonderfully drowned in tomato sauce and garlic aioli, and salt cod croquettes stuffed to the rims with juicy fish and fried to perfection. The only thing I didn't enjoy as much as the wonderful food on offer was the rather crammed and rushed feel of the place. Yes, one could of course argue that the tapas bar vibe, perching on stools and elbowing the diners next to you, is all part of the authentic Spanish dining experience but for me it took a little a way from the culinary wonders that were created here.
Good thing then that the man behind Jose, funnily enough called Jose Pizarro, decided to take his Spanish touch into a more conventional restaurant set up, opening Pizarro a mere few doors up from Jose. I have worked just off Bermondsey street for a good while now, walking past it's enticing smells on my lunch break, and thus so when it came to deciding where to go for a work meal jumped at the chance to give Pizarro a go! Sticking to the seasonal, flavourful cooking of Jose but with less of a tapas-centric and more of a three course style menu, it proved the perfect place to take a bigger group of people for a fresh, incredibly tasty and surprisingly light lunch! While my dining companions couldn't help but order a few of those infamous cured meats, the chorizo almost inhaled in front of me, I was left in awe by an incredibly fresh spinach, olive and mushroom salad that showed a kitchen as confident in frying a fine piece of meat than perfectly dressing a delicate vegetable concoctions. The mains were equally convincing, whether the steak which received rave reviews, to the light as a feather monkfish or my delicious courgette flower in rye, stuffed with aubergine puree, this was food that was simple because it was certain of its perfectly balanced flavours not because of lack of skill and didn't, like so many other restaurants do, rely on an abundance of carbs to fill you up. The house red that accompanied the meal was a complete bargain at £19 a bottle and finished off a meal that in it's soul was still undoubtedly authentically Spanish but with that slightly more refined touch when compared to Jose that makes it so perfectly adapted to London.