Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Pizarro

If I were to divulge about the top five world cuisines then Spanish wouldn’t figure. And if we were talking about the top ten instead, it would still lag behind the Japanese, Moroccans, Mexicans and dare I say the Vietnamese. Spanish cooking in general thrives on the best and freshest ingredients that doesn’t rely on unneeded complexities or the culinary rigmarole of the rest of the world’s best offerings. In spite of its simplicity Spanish cooking is also undyingly delicious. So it’s hardly a surprise that the clear majority of Spanish chefs who hold three Michelin stars have embraced rocket sciences and molecular gastronomy to achieve their respective merits globally; and to good effect I might add. Nicholas Lander, in his review of Jeremy Lee’s Quo Vadis for the FT said- ‘These are simple dishes that could be cooked at home, though they are even better when left to a consummate professional.’ Well, the statement sums up my experiences at Pizarro in its entirety.

Quickie notes:

To get there- crossing the Thames might be a chore too much for some.

Ambience- a welcoming bright and airy jaunt during lunch but too dark when supping in the evening.

Service- Smiley and pleasant but depending on where you’re sitting; if you’re allocated in some secluded corner facing Bermondsey Street then you might as well serve yourself or throw a tantrum.

Drinks- Filtered tap water, choice of still or sparkling served free. High mark-ups on the wines and sherrys indicated a trigger-happy mentality to keep the restaurant’s bank manager smiling incessantly.

Food-

The wonderful cover-charge-free enticement of radish and cauliflower was a good sign of what to expect.

Quail, Romesco

The anaemic looking bird belied its looks. It was beautifully cooked and thus moist and succulent. The sweet nutty Romesco sauce lent itself an immense apricity to the dish.

Salt cod, white beans, and spinach

The way the fish flaked so easily with the slightest of fork-nudges was a joy. Simply marvellous. It was a dish that was reassuringly rewarding created out of a combination of subtle tasting ingredients. And if the pescatarian disciples of the Dukan Diet had a sacred dish in mind, this would be it.

The next two dishes ordered are José Pizarro’s favourite dishes at the restaurant-

Duck livers, capers, Fino

Potentially another finely concocted dish that made me wish I was a humble peasant instead of living in W2 and faffing around with sliding doors. Fresh, sharp and earthy. This dish would’ve been fit for kings except that the livers were a little overcooked for my liking.

Lamb, lentils, radicchio

Lamb should always be cooked like the above; no more and no less. Impressive. However I was brought up on Sunday Roasts so where’s the gravy? And if the omnivorous disciples of the Dukan Diet had a sacred dish in mind this would be it.


Dessert of Vanilla ice cream, Moscatel grapes, PX

Sweet as hell but devilishly momentous, so much so and for my sins, one of my crowns broke in half. I blamed the almonds and injury lawyers were as a matter of fact, not consulted.

The second time I came back here the gaffer, José, was grafting his dues in the kitchen. Psychologically, the food can only get better and it did. Can I also say that Sr. Pizarro is my height, i.e. shortish…elation exclaimed!


Croquetas

José’s version was very good. Then, so too is Miguel’s, Jesús’, Santiago’s, Javier’s and Enrique’s but I love this the best because of the bacony bits.

Lamb’s tongues, red onion, gherkins

A dish whereby adjectives can do no further justice to. Memorable. A redeemable dish for those who have an aversion to lamb (taste nowt of and guaranteed) and for those who sigh about the myth that surrounds the melt-in-the mouth tedium.

NB just don’t bite your own tongue when enjoying.


Prawns, crispy Serrano ham, piquillo pepper

Impossible to share let alone oneself. The prawns may be not be the fabled Palamós y la gamba but they were one of the best I’ve tasted. Perfectly cooked and seasoned, and the crispy Serrano was beyond a tease! The only problem was…

…Michel Roux, Jr. has left the building!

Lamb, roasted winter vegetables, salsa verde

José loves his lamb, faultless and right up there but once again-

‘Love me tender,
love me sweet,’

So, let's chant-

Gravy! Gravy! My kingdom for some gravy!

Iberico pork fillet, mashed potatoes, peppers, almonds

Heaven is akin to eating near raw pork without the fear of trichinosis. It was boar taint at its finest, a perfume no longer offensive but inviting and luscious. Blimey, how do the Spaniards get away with this sort of thing, I’m numbed out but overwhelmed. Although it was not exactly the much hyped Pluma Iberica it was still a brilliant dish. The mash was in itself a standout star, it was made and seasoned so well that MsMarmitelover would love and envy at the same time.

Cambridge burnt cream Crema Catalana

Words desserted desert dessert me- like a child, I liked, liked and forver will like.

Simplicity at its best; that’s Pizarro. Highly recommended.



194 Bermondsey Street
London SE1 3TQ

www.josepizarro.com

4 comments:

Lizzie said...

Doesn't the salsa verde count as a sauce? A gravy would wash it away, surely...

Kake said...

You only need to cross the Thames if you started on the wrong side :p

Anonymous said...

general question to those who know more about these things than me:

50% of the time, ("fine dining" or often chinese restaurants) i eat prawns where the intestinal sac has been removed. the rest of the time, the prawn is whole and its left in there.

do people always cut it open and remove it? i dont, but wondered if actually I should be doing so. or is it just personal taste. its not a nice idea is it.. but never made me ill either.

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