Walking into Broadgate Circle on a warm summer evening is like entering a gladiatorial arena. The roar from the City folk is a shock; pushing your way through is a feat. Thankfully, things get a lot more civilised inside José Pizarro’s new restaurant.
The Extremaduran chef is a master of hospitality: his Bermondsey Street tapas bar, José, is the kind of gem you’d wish to stumble upon while in Spain; while his larger, smarter Pizarro restaurant just a few doors down manages to be a destination venue that has a neighbourhood feel.
This third venture is not as big as you might expect for a City flagship. Clever design hides the awkward layout: a high communal table separates the long bar from the blue-grey dining room.
JP is slick, but that’s not to say it lacks heart. Our waitress sat at the table to take our order, and Pizarro himself grabbed a bite with friends.
The food is quick to arrive and thoroughly delicious: gooey croquetas; tender, paprika-sprinkled octopus; crisp-edged fried egg with grilled asparagus and romesco sauce; sardines cooked in oil and served in a tin; and juicy prawn buñuelos (stuffed and fried dough balls).
José Pizarro offers sherry and cava to whet the appetite as well as a selection of Spanish-style G&Ts – perfect for quaffing on the terrace. The well-explained wine list offers lots by the glass and carafe.
The City JP does nothing startlingly different from its two branches. But in its own arena, it entertains the crowds better than Russell Crowe.