Posts for the 'SE1' Category


Pizarro

Pizarro has been receiving all the same rave reviews that its sister restaurant José also collected when it first opened. But one of the things that make Pizarro more appealing than José is that it is bigger, a huge bonus when both restaurants do not have a booking policy and happen to be two of the most sort after tables in London at the moment. I still imagine there could be long waits, but we turned up around 6.30pm on a Saturday night and managed to nab a spot straight away.

The dining room spells T-R-E-N-D-Y. It feels more formal and less raw than José, but it still follows the bar-seating-around-the-open-kitchen formula of its sister. We sat right near the pass during our visit which meant we got to see José at work. The menu is small, and it has less of a tapas-focus than at José and more main course selections (five).

As we decided on what to order, we were presented with some veggie nibbles of radish and cauliflower dressed with olive oil and cava vinegar. These are worth a mention as they were lovely with a hint of delicate acidic sweetness.

Veg dressed with olive oil & cava vinegar

Veg dressed with olive oil & cava vinegar

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Delfina

Delfina is a restaurant I discovered while on route to Zucca and Jose, all three of which are on Bermondsey Street near London Bridge. It has an inviting contemporary look to it – lots of white space – and its high ceilings can be attributed to the fact that it is housed in what was once a converted chocolate factory. The building is now used for exhibitions and the like, and the restaurant opens for lunch from Monday to Friday, and for dinner on a Friday night.

On the Friday evening of our visit we tried seared scallops (£7.50) which disappointed. The scallop had started to go bad with an unpleasant taste to them. Furthermore, they weren’t really scallops (plural), but one scallop cut into two. The accompanying saffron cauliflower was also a touch underdone.

Scallops

Scallops

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Jose

Jose on Bermondsey Street is the first solo restaurant from critically acclaimed chef Jose Pizarro who was previously the driving force behind the Brindisa Group. .

The restaurant exudes a warm cosy feeling, but is so tiny that it’s basically standing room only with a smattering of stools. We spent our first hour and a half at Jose on our feet, squeezed into a tiny corner with plates and glasses being handed to us over the heads of other diners. We eventually found more space, but (alas) with only one stool even though there was two of us. This was not a comfortable dining experience, especially as Jose has a no bookings policy.

Nevertheless, the food was outstanding and very reasonably priced. Tortilla (£4) filled with chorizo was scrumptious, and the meaty flavour of the chorizo gave the dish a fantastic lift. The accompanying aioli oozed lots of garlic-y goodness and worked a magic on the tortilla.

Tortilla

Tortilla

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Zucca

Italian restaurant Zucca made waves when it first opened last year and no wonder. Not discounting the fact that the restaurant looks great, the prices are also staggeringly reasonable. The modern and stylish dining room is sleek and shiny, and backs onto the open plan kitchen where you can watch the chefs beavering away at their work.

The menu was neat and succinct, and sounded incredibly appetising with the touches of Italian authenticity running through it. Taglierini with peas and peashoots (£7 for a starter, £9 for a main) was cooked al dente. The peas had a nice crunchiness to them, and there was a lovely earthy freshness coming through from the peashoots. Finished with a touch of aromatic mint, the flavour of the dish was good, but it was also very rich as it had been finished with a heavy dose of butter.

Taglierini with peas & peashoots

Taglierini with peas & peashoots

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Le Pont de la Tour

Le Pont de la Tour

Le Pont de la Tour

We had lunch last Friday at Le Pont de la Tour and I was ever so grateful that despite the freezing cold we’ve had to endure thus far this winter, at least this day turned out to be one of lovely sunshine beaming down over London. One of the endearing features of Le Pont de la Tour is that it has secured a prime location overlooking Tower Bridge, and so a sunny day makes for fine viewing indeed.

Le Pont de la Tour at lunch time is a place for the suits, if the attire of those dining at the three other tables at the restaurant were anything to go by. Certainly, it can be enough to make you feel uncomfortable if you are wearing anything but. And the price tag attached to the lunchtime menu (£19.50 to £25 for mains) might warrant most people to only lunch here if they’re on an expense account. I suspect Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, and the three colleagues he was dining with a few tables down would have been doing nothing but. Unfortunately they were seated a little too far away for me to be able to eavesdrop on any noteworthy gossip on the state of London’s affairs that I could share with you. But his presence paved the way for us to spend a good 10 minutes having a nice giggle (oh yes we did) about the sort of shenanigans we could potentially get up to involving Boris that might secure us a spot on the 6 o’clock news and a chance for our 15 minutes of fame.

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Champor-Champor: Are menus the new porn?

Some say cookbooks are the new porn. I personally find them quite entertaining, if, and only if, there are lots of photos, and only if the photos are all of hot and steamy dishes. Visually stimulating, they can arouse my senses and heighten my desire for that nourishing-looking morsel on the page, immediately transporting me into a heavenly world of exquisite comfort eating.

As I scanned the menu at Champor-Champor, a fixed-price affair (2 courses, £25; 3 courses £29.50), I also wondered whether menu porn could be considered the new porn too. A good menu can be a titillating promise of the tasty things to come. It can occasionally be a tease too, making you want all that is offered when all the while you know it won’t be possible. On this menu, sandwiched in between the starters and the mains were the interestingly entitled inter-courses (with a £2.80 supplement). Porn anyone?

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