Bermondsey Street is a hidden gem just around the corner from London Bridge station. Pass under the long railway bridge and you emerge onto a narrow one-way street full of independent cafes and restaurants which is also home to the Fashion and Textile Museum. A favourite of locals and those who work in nearby More London and London Bridge offices, and refreshingly lacking tourists despite the numerous draws nearby (including Tower Bridge, HMS Belfast and the Tower of London which are all within 20 minutes walk).
I frequently venture down Bermondsey Street for lunch – watch this space for a little feature on some of the independent cafes it has to offer which make a welcome change from Pret or Itsu – and after dark where, as well as the more obvious watering holes, there are some genuinely hidden gems (mainly in basements) to be found.
Jose Pizarro has two restaurants on Bermondsey Street – Jose, which is a tiny tapas bar and always heaving, and Pizarro which is a more substantial restaurant towards the end of Bermondsey Street. I’ve never been to Jose, but I’ve been to Pizarro three times for dinner and never been disappointed.
Gambas al ajillo
The menu changes with the season, and on the particular occasion where I actually remembered to take photos (sometimes the food is just too good!), to start we opted for a mixed beetroot salad and gambas al ajillo (prawns, garlic and chilli). Also, make sure you ask your waiter/waitress for a wine recommendation because they are all exceptional but it’s incredibly hard to choose from such an extensive choice.
Mixed beetroot salad with Picos de Europa cheese, hazelnut and tarragon
For mains, we sampled an aubergine cannelloni which was surprisingly light and flavourful, and cod served with salsa verde, kale and jamon. There’s something about fish and prosciutto or jamon which shouldn’t work in theory, but just does. It’s one of my favourite flavour combinations, and this offering did not disappoint.
Battered cod with salsa verde, kale and Jamon 5J
Aubergine Cannelloni stuffed with roasted vegetables and gratin payoyo cheese
The desserts are also worth sampling – they take a while to arrive once ordered, but that’s largely because each one is individually crafted by a dedicated dessert chef, as we found out sitting along the kitchen bar, watching one of the Jose gents perfect a white chocolate and raspberry fondant. One of many fantastic restaurants on this delightful street, but definitely not to be missed.