If you’ve ever visited the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition, you’ll know how long it takes to ‘do’ the 1,500 exhibits. So having previously enjoyed Jose Pizzaro’s in-house restaurant, it seemed ideal for a pit stop, especially when my husband offered to meet me and pay for lunch.
I’d booked a table which as the couple in front of us learned, was necessary if you want to be seated at a table in the lavishly decorated, high-ceilinged restaurant rather than be perched on a stool at the bar or sat outside on the mezzanine.
As it was only a week to my birthday, we began with a glass of fizz over pan con tomate. The thin slices of crisp toast were covered with salty, garlicy, pulped tomato with a drizzle of oil. It was so delicious, I could have easily wolfed down a second portion, but resisted to explore more of the relatively short and simple menu, divided into ‘Pica Pica to start’ and ‘Tapas to follow’.
We ordered Buñuelos de bacalao, (five spicy balls of minced cod sat on aioli), a half portion of three types of charcuterie and Endsaladilla Rusa, served with a dish of salted crackers. Whilst the salad was lovely with slivers of tinned tuna on the top, I can never understand why Russian salad is so popular in Spain. All went beautifully with a bottle of their cheapest white at £29.75.
From the automatically presented dessert menu, I was going to indulge in a chocolate pot with salt and Jose Pizzaro olive oil. But having spotted it contained a whopping 1,068 calories, decided I didn’t want to indulge that much. Instead we settled on what was described on the menu as trufas de chocolate: seven round chocolate button like truffles coated in rich cocoa. These settled my craving admirably, went well with coffee, and as we shared, was only 200 calories.
Service was excellent: professional but laid back, and when as invariably happens, the table is never big enough for several plates, the server took away as much as he could to make room, instead of just dumping the plates and leaving us to it.
The bill (£107) was presented in a folded card advertising Jose’s new book, The Spanish Home Kitchen and a recipe for mushrooms on toast with torta de casar cheese. I decided it might be fun to recreate at home, until I looked up the cost of the specialist cheese which retailed at around £18.
Whilst I’d intended to go back for round two of the exhibition, my lunch was so enjoyable, I decided I’d seen enough, and we headed home together.