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Pizarro, Bermondsey

I have been wanting to go to any of Jose Pizarro's restaurants for forever, so I was very happy to learn that I would actually be visiting the best one, Pizarro, for my friend Julia's birthday. We started off in The Garrison on Bermondsey St and virtually opposite his other no-bookings place, Jose, which had queues out the door for the duration. I first went to The Garrison in about 2006/7 when it opened, so was taken aback by how busy it was and how much the area as a whole had regenerated in the time (I must not get down that way much apparently). There are some fab places around there and Zucca, similarly, is high up on my list. We fought out way to the bar for some much needed bottles of Easter Thursday fizz meaning time flew until our table at 9, which we then fell upon with actual glee, especially when we saw Jose himself enjoying an aperitif next to us.

Pizarro is the more formal of Jose and Pizarro, and despite the addition of a small dining bar we were surprised to find that the menu didn't actually lend itself wholly to tapas, instead having more of a starter / mains set up. Unperturbed we ordered in tapas style to ensure we were able to eat the max number of dishes possible!

I'm a slave to Iberico after my travels in Mallorca and had already clocked a good few inclusions on the menu pre-visit. Sadly they only had a 650g serving of the pork itself so we opted for a plate of remarkably good chorizo Iberico instead. Alex, the blonde bombshell above, is possibly the world's greatest fan of chorizo and this one passed muster with flying colours. The distinctive acorn flavour really came through and the colour of the chorizo is testament to the depth and smokiness of the paprika.

Drunk with our cleverness at choosing such a great restaurant we swiftly ordered some cute padrons - always a must-have for birthday girl Julia. They were good but personally too salty for me. I ate more than my fair share of some funny little lamb sweetbreads in the meantime:

Sweetbreads are a thing of mine but I've never had them crumbed like this before. They were served with a lime mayonnaise and were impressively tender with the right amount of bite versus give, but were almost missing a certain hay-like lambiness. But I'm picking.

Stuffed squid was a revelation and we should have ordered more of it. Equally a grilled octopus dish was everything I hoped it would be - none of your baby octopus business here:

It brought back very fond memories of eating this beast of the sea in Corfu old town a few years ago:

Pizarro's accompaniments of creamy potato and egg 'caviar' were rather more refined than this one though.

Continuing with our pigging out, we added a monkfish dish into the mix, which at three times the price of most of our other dishes didn't knock our socks off but of course it was very good:

And some mystifying 'green skewers', which I believe to be ostensibly spinach, chickpea and plenty of earthy green herbs topped with a fruity pine nut dressing. A steal at £12.

The staff were nice enough to let us give Julia some surprise birthday cupcakes (Lola's) in lieu of pudding and didn't charge us for the privilege as so many places do.

We topped off the evening with four glasses of cuarenta y tres aka. Licor 43 aka. the nicest digestif known to man. Make sure you get some at duty free next time.

All of this deliciousness plus two bottles of the best cava I've had in a long long time cost us about £40 each and was worth every penny. Thank you Pizarro for a beautiful meal; we all loved it and might even queue for Jose next time.

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