Christmas holidays of course. This is the time of year where it’s often difficult to find that special meal. Either the restaurant you want is fully booked, or it’s just doing a boring and overpriced Christmas Menu or it’s closed for the holidays. However over the last few years we have found that if you look carefully and book with enough advance notice you can still find some gems around the Christmas season.
This year we have chosen two very different but highly acclaimed restaurants that we have not visited yet :-
For me it was a case of third time lucky, as we finally managed to get a seat in José (José Pizarro’s tiny Tapas bar in Bermondsey Street). We did this by choosing a non standard time though – 2 o’clock on a Monday! It was worth it. Excellent service and some pretty superior Tapas dishes, better I have to say than Tapas bars we have tried in Spain, including Alberto Adrià’s famous (and now closed) Inopia in Barcelona.
We ordered some delicious Tomato bread, Patatas Bravas, Lamb Albondigas, Hake, Lentils and Chorizo with a couple glasses of wine. Then for dessert we had a juicy soft pear poached in red wine and a dish of cold rice pudding – divine. We thought the bill might be excessive as it is very easy to keep ordering Tapas dishes without realising just how much the costs are mounting up. However we were pleasantly surprised at how reasonable our lovely lunch was. £25 a head for two glasses of wine, two coffees and seven Tapas dishes isn’t bad for London.
We’ll be back.
Marks out of 10
UPDATE 21/12/12 – Made a return visit and sat at the bar to enjoy some delicious Croquetas, Hake, Chorizo al Vino and take in the buzz. Just as good as our first visit.
José Pizarro’s Tapas bar “José” in Bermondsey Street is oh so popular and rather small to say the least, it’s near impossible to get in. So when I heard that he was opening a larger restaurant in the premises formally occupied by The Bermondsey Kitchen just a few yards further up the street it was music to my ears.
The official opening of the new restaurant which will be called Pizarro is in October, but unusually they started earlier by opening up The Bermondsey Kitchen again with the new Pizarro team, for just a few weeks before it closes in September for its make over, which will involve extending the bar to take up the whole front of the restaurant. The new restaurant will also feature a traditional Spanish menu and provide London’s first Cava bar.
This premature opening was confusing enough to make me unsure if I was visiting/reviewing a “real restaurant”. Although the bill for two of £80 was pretty real and not particularly great value.
The room currently lacks atmosphere and was half full on our visit on a Friday evening. The menu looked quite interesting with tapas like starters and more substantial mains, they all looked like fairly traditional Spanish dishes to me, but I do not know if this food style is a true example of what will be served in October.
We had the prawns and anchovies – both very good tapas style dishes. However when the mains arrived we rather wished we had just ordered all of the starters, as they were less successful. My Rabbit was rather unseasonal to say the least, a hearty rabbit stew in August! My companions Iberian Pork was pretty basic served with mashed potatoes and piquillo peppers, a bit dull really. For dessert we had the figs which were burnt on the bottom and a rather ordinary orange and almond cake.
On the plus side we had a very nice bottle of Ribero de Duero and a couple of glasses of PX. However based on this “taster” I think I will wait a while until the real Pizarro is in place and has settled in to the area. Then if I can not get a booking at nearby Zucca I might try it again.