Menu del Dia at Pizarro, Bermondsey Street

Jose Pizarro is without a doubt my favourite Spanish Chef in London. His two restaurants at London Bridge make Bermondsey Street a firm foodie destination. When visiting the Caribbean, I was delighted to discover my passion for Jose’s food had travelled across the Atlantic. The manager of Cap Maison Hotel mentioned my positive reviews had inspired him to invite the great Jose Pizarro for a guest cheffing stint in summer 2013. With this in mind, I thought it was time to return to Bermondsey Street to sample Jose’s Menu del Dia.

I ate at Pizarro when it first opened late in 2011 and I’m very pleased to report that one year later the food is as good as ever. With an open kitchen, it is easy to observe the passionate enthusiasm obvious of all Jose’s staff. It seems to me that food is handled here in the way it should be, with care but not fussed about. On a busy Saturday lunchtime the kitchen was buzzing (we were sat very nearby), I was disappointed not to spot Jose amongst the team of chefs.

The Menu del Dia is a lunch menu, carefully designed by Jose using the freshest in season ingredients. This menu is ideal for weekday diners hoping for a reasonably priced lunch, at £18 for two courses and £20 for three. I was amazed with the variety the Saturday menu displays.

We chose the Iberico Ham to start and the Pork with roast potatoes from the daily menu. In my opinion a good Spanish meal should begin with a plate of glistening Iberico ham and as always the produce in Pizarro beats all rest. The finely sliced ham was divine, melt in the mouth and full of flavour. We ordered fresh bread to accompany the meat but I was sad to hear there was no aioli on offer. The pork, cooked medium rare, was irresistibly good. A lovely piece of meat simply but finely seasoned and served with lightly fried potatoes.

The main menu is filled with tempting treats. Our favourite was the Escalibada with Manchego cheese and herb oil, it is rare that a vegetarian dish exceeds my expectations but this truly did, a spectacular combination of flavours and textures. Prawns with pied de mouton mushrooms and chilli was a perfect starter, fresh and light dressed in a moreish spicy sauce. Neither of us took particularly to the beef cheeks with pumpkin puree, the beef was very rich and the pumpkin puree a little overpowering.

We opted for one cheese plate and one dessert to share. Coconut mousse with marinated banana and chocolate was an interesting mix of flavours, I loved the delicate and exotic mousse, but was unsure about the banana. Spanish cheeses are second to none, and at Pizarro you receive a generous selection of their best. Manchego outshone the others but all three chosen were delicious.

I am always amazed by the wine and sherries at Pizarro’s eateries. Our nervous waitress chose us wine to match our preferences and complement our food choices, and succeeded brilliantly at both. A lovely light wine, a robust red and a suitably sweet wine for pudding.

I don’t think I could ever get bored of Pizarro’s cooking and with the Menu del Dia this wonderful Spanish cuisine is affordable for all.