It’s a Tuesday evening at José Pizarro’s all-day tapas restaurant in Broadgate Circle and there are suits aplenty.
Detracting slightly from his cosier Bermondsey outposts, José and Pizarro, the Spanish chef has created this restaurant, his third, in a sleek, airy style, so it matches the City worker crowd well.
An extensive wine list featuring all-Spanish varieties is pleasing to see, while small tapas dishes and sharing plates of meat and cheese dominate the small menu.
Considering the size of the menu, which is a sheet of A4, we spend a lot of time mulling over what to eat. Vegetarian dishes aren’t flagged up, which is slightly frustrating considering I’m dining with a pescatarian companion. Some of the dish descriptions are also strings of Spanish words (it certainly feels authentic!), so we busy ourselves Googling translations on our phones.
To start, we go for the gordal olives stuffed with manchego (£4) – the Spanish cheese inside the olives is incredibly rich and creamy, and a little overpowering – but the spicy prawn fritters with alioli (£8.50) are memorable and moreish, perhaps one of the stand-out dishes.
Mid-way through the starters, a plate of juicy-looking king prawns lands on our table – which, it turns out, are intended for the diners seated beside us, who are eyeing them up suspiciously. We pass the plate on, and carry on with our meal.
Next we order patatas bravas (£5) and empanada with spinach, torta del casar and pine nut dressing (£7). The patatas bravas is great to start, but the potato chunks nearer to the bottom of the pan are overly salty. The empanada, a pastry with a cheese and spinach filling, is coated in an odd dressing that ruins the flavour, such that we nibble on a bit and leave the rest.
We move on to a dessert of warm apple tart and vanilla ice cream (£4.50), which is absolutely lovely – crisp, flaky and so enjoyable that I could devour another plate. Also on the dessert menu is a dish that intrigues me: chocolate pot with salt and olive oil (£4.50). It’s just as popular as the apple tart, the waiter tells me, and is a little like a pot of rich Nutella, served with bread, but I’m too full to give it a go.
Perhaps my incredibly positive and fulfilling tapas experience at Brindisa the night before is overshadowing my experience, but I can’t help but feel too satisfied. Maybe I should’ve chosen some meaty dishes. I’m told that the menu has recently changed, so maybe that’s got something to do with it. Still, the setting is pretty and the service is great (other than the slip of the prawns!) – I can’t help but feel that José Pizarro, which opened last May, could be even better in the summer months, when diners can dine on the outdoor terrace.
Regardless, the magic of tapas is that you get to fill up on a variety of small things, and while it feels like you’re eating less than normal, you feel full fast. We set off out of the restaurant and the grand amphitheatre-like Broadgate Circle with our bellies full, at least.