Our guide to the best places to eat during office hours in the City.
WHAT? A busy, buzzy new tapas restaurant specialising in sea-food and first-class charcuterie. From the highly rated Spanish chef Jose Pizarro.
WHERE? The restaurant is one of 11 new openings at Broadgate Circle, the pedestrianised bit of concrete just north of Liverpool Street station now being marketed as “London’s Newest Food and Drink Hub”. Neighbours include The Botanist, Crab Tavern and a new branch of Franco Manca.
WHO? Pizarro already has two eateries to his name, Jose Tapas Bar and Pizarro Restaurant, both found in Bermondsey and both among the best Spanish places in London.
ORDER THIS... The best things were the smaller morsels (Pica Pica) brought to us while we were still choosing what to have for the main event: light, fragrant prawn fritters; rich, crispy jamon croquets; exquisitely presented, tangy charcuterie. Of the “Small Dishes”, broad beans and peas with poached egg and chorizo was the standout.
BUSINESS OR PLEASURE? Either. Clientele is decidedly smart – most were dressed for business when I went – but the vibe is convivial. Informal but attentive service staff create a relaxed vibe that’s as suited to deal-making as it is for friendly lunches with colleagues. With the sun out and the doors open it makes for a great al fresco choice for summer.
NEED TO BOOK? Yes. I waited until the day before to book and it was full. Luckily a cancellation meant they could squeeze me in at the bar, which, incidentally, is the best place to sit: there watch the concentration on the chef’s faces as they carve thin strips of iberico ham off cured pork legs.
THE VERDICT... It isn’t cheap but the atmosphere and tasty, moreish tapas provide a welcome injection of Latin passion into one of the city’s more soulless corners. The croquets, jamon iberico and padron peppers were good enough to make up for the under-seasoned octopus. Overall, a hit.
ONE MORE THING... The easiest mistake to make at Jose Pizarro is over-ordering: I went so mad on the Pica Pica there was barely any space left for the main dishes when they arrived. I still managed to eat them all though. I guess that says it all.