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José Pizarro (formerly co-founder and head chef of Brindisa) has done a fine job here of creating a very genuine, slightly rustic local Spanish bar. The decor is plain brick, timbers and tiles; seating is mostly on stools, with barrels to stand glasses on; and there’s a no-bookings, doors-wide-open attitude, albeit while being firmly planted in trendified Bermondsey. This, his TV appearances and books have cemented his position as the most prominent Spanish chef in Britain, but what stands out here is his expert attention to sourcing and getting the basics right, ahead of culinary adventurism. You won’t find any great innovations, but you will be treated to perfect, fantastically fresh renderings of the kind of classic traditional tapas that are too often let down by routine reheated preparation, such as crisp-outside, creamy-within croquetas, deep-flavoured tortilla and saltily bittersweet padrón peppers. Prawns came perfectly flash-fried in powerful but never overpowering garlic and chilli, and the renowned Ibérico ham and other meats are from Maldonado, one of Spain’s most esteemed artisan producers. Wines cover a desirable fine-quality range, all available by the (well-priced) glass. The admirably unflustered staff are experts in space management, but we wonder how long a place so regularly packed can stay in such a small setting.
104 Bermondsey Street
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