Thursday, 17 May 2012


I love Bermondsey.

An unassuming 'hood, it's home to a high street dotted with independant shops and lined with resuscitated lofts integrated with the elegantly moldering older buildings set behind. It feels like the ancient London that's always been, but one that has gotten up and shaken the dust of the industrial ages off its cobbled streets to keep up with, and even set trends for, the times.

With the White Cube's new concrete 'Gray Cube', it has recently become an art destination, and, most importantly, with the Maltby Street Market and top restaurants, it had already become one for food. The market was born of Borough's rising rents for vendors and as a respite for the smaller guys among the tourist-trampled stalls. I could go on about it for ages - it's the best way to spend a Saturday morning - but suffice it to say the converted arches' offerings run the gamut from grocers to smaller producers (Mons cheesemongers, Kappacasein, La Grotta Ices, formerly Kernel Brewery...) to your requisite Neal's Yard Dairy and Monmouth Coffee. Nothing better than battling through a St John's doughnut, cream spurting forth at each bite like Old Faithful, propped against the doors of Monmouth in the sun with a steaming filter in hand. Perfection.

Both because of the market's ever-growing foodie creds and doubtlessly due to its proximity to the original, Borough Market, Bermondsey has proved itself a sweet spot for restaurants as well as suppliers. Perfect pub The Garrison, matchbook-sized tapas temple Jose, my new favorite spot 40 Maltby Street - there is a glut of good eating in this corner of the city.

So when I heard that Jose's owner was opening another eatery with a bit more elbow room, I got excited. And someone was listening. Or, rather, reading. The Boy had read about its opening on this very blog (the only fruitful reason for having one, so far) and whisked me to Pizarro last month for my birthday.

With its rough wood, chalk board, and bare bulbs, it was elegant but understated enough to avoid full-fledged celebration, and, as BB knows, the tapas concept is an exercise in my ideal of sharing small plates. I think in this instance I'll let the photos speak for themselves:

Puy lentils with roasted Jerusalem artichoke, scented with truffle:

Guinea hen with jus-saturated apricots:

Butifarra with stewy white beans:

Perfectly tender giant shrimp nestled in squid ink risotto with a garlicky aioli:

Surprisingly satisfying various roasted root vegetables with smears of salsa verde and soft goat cheese:

And seared salt cod over more of those stewy white beans (the Spaniards love them stewy white beans):

...all kicked off with cava and then accompanied by a deep and sweet Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha. To finish, an almondy Tarta de Santiago with cinnamon ice cream:

But the best was yet to come - his choice of restaurant hadn't only been down to my not-so-subtle hint, but also alluded to his gift of a weekend away in Barcelona. It seemed so far away at the time, but time did its sneaky trick of speeding up - the bags are packed and we're flying tonight.

And so on to Barca! Hasta lluego...


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