squaremeal.co.uk | 5
ow that our website covers 11,500 restaurants
throughout the UK, it's rather lost in the mists
of time that Square Meal is so called because it
began as a restaurant guide to the Square Mile.
At that time, 1990, anything with an EC postcode
was neglected by nearly every restaurant critic
- a situation that's barely imaginable now.
As we go to press, the re-opened Broadgate Circle is set to
become a destination not only for the City, but all of London,
as top Spanish chef José Pizarro opens his third restaurant
in the capital and Michelin-starred Yauatcha its second -
alongside a host of other highly polished operators (p.52).
In Square Meal's 25 years of life, the axis of eating out has shifted ever-further east: not just
to the City, but to the creative hotbeds of Shoreditch, Dalston and their neighbours. Nowhere
is this more visible than in the vital street food and pop-up scene. Happily, many successful
pop-ups do become permanent; turn to our Asian restaurant feature (p.56) to discover
some of the most vibrant places to visit this spring, whether in a car park or complete with
a roof. Our Best New Restaurant, Kurobuta (p.40), is a shining example of a pop-up gone
permanent - albeit one located in Chelsea, not Clapton.
And here we are in 2015 with something else unimaginable in 1990: London is now the
destination where the most celebrated French restaurants want to launch, including aboutto-open
hotspot Le Chabanais (see Restaurant News, p.10). This city has well and truly stolen
Paris's crown as the eating-out capital of Europe - if not the world: something that has been
well worth Square Meal's 25-year wait.
Victoria Stewart is a
freelance food and
travel writer living in
London, whose work
has appeared in the Evening Standard,
Foodism, Escapism and Unmapped, among
others. She is also the blogger behind
See Asian Invasion, p.56.
Favourite spring ingredient? Radishes -
preferably dipped in lemony mayonnaise.
Top spot for alfresco dining/drinking? The pub
garden of Notting Hill's Windsor Castle.
All time best box-set? I still enjoy watching
Black Books and Green Wing!
Richard Woodard has
been writing about
wine and spirits since
2000. He is a regular
contributor to a wide range of drinks
magazines and websites, and is currently
launching scotchwhisky.com, a new
website devoted to Scotch whisky.
See Strictly Spicy, p.84.
Favourite spring ingredient? Asparagus and
chicory. The latter is irresistible in a salad
with pear and Roquefort.
Top spot for alfresco dining/drinking? Swan
Bar at the Globe Theatre on Bankside.
All time best box-set? The West Wing (a
marathon) and Phoenix Nights (a sprint).
Katie Wyartt is a
editor with more than
15 years' experience in
the fashion and luxury
goods sectors. She has contributed to
publications such as Esquire, Times Luxx
and Brummell; clients have included
Gra� Diamonds and Moët & Chandon.
See Luxury Special, p.127.
Favourite spring ingredient? Broad beans,
samphire - and Easter eggs, of course!
Top spot for alfresco dining/drinking?
Anywhere overlooking the South Downs.
All time best box-set? I think Better Call Saul
is, dare I say it, better than Breaking Bad.
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Welcome to Square Meal
Ben McCormack, editor
restaurants � food
to London. What prompted a move to a
country that most of the world still thought
of as serving some of the worst food in
Europe? 'I just wanted to see something else,'
Pizarro says. 'The great thing about being a
chef is that, if you have the technique, you
can work anywhere in the world. A friend told
me there weren't many Spanish chefs in the
UK and that there was a gap in the market. So
I said, "I'll be with you in a month".'
Pizarro took a job as a sous chef at Gaudi in
Clerkenwell, at that time the most innovative
Spanish restaurant in London. But while
innovation may have been the name of the
game in Spain, in the UK, attitudes to Spanish
food were still shaped by holidays on the
Costas. Pizarro has been on a mission to
change that perception ever since.
osé Pizarro talks about the
importance of other people more
than any chef I have ever met. He has
open kitchens because he thinks it's
important that his customers can see
their food being prepared by people
who enjoy their work. And he's about to open
a new restaurant in the City so he can allow
his trusted team of chefs to take on new
challenges - 'otherwise I will lose them'.
This emphasis on the human aspect of
cooking is tting for a chef most famous for
the shareable nature of his food. 'The most
important thing in life is to spend quality time
together,' Pizarro says, 'and there is nothing
better for that than being around food.'
Pizarro was born in 1971 in Talaván, a small
village in Extremadura in western Spain, a
region the chef makes sound like some sort of
earthly paradise. 'We have almost everything
in Extremadura. There is so much land,
and the vegetables are incredible. We have
amazing lamb and game. There are very good
restaurants and this year the city of Cáceres
has been named Spain's gastronomy capital.'
But this isn't the usual story of a chef who
started cooking because he was inspired by
the abundance of produce growing around
him. True, Pizarro's dad was a farmer and it
was young José's job to help him on the farm,
but the kitchen was the undisputed domain
of his mother and grandmother.
It was not until he was training to become
a dental technician that he began to cook. 'I
did very well in my studies and while I was
looking for a job, I started doing a cookery
course - and I loved it. A chef from Fonda San
Juan restaurant in Cáceres asked if I'd like to
do some work for him. I never went back to
being a dental technician.'
Moving to London
It was a move to Madrid that gave Pizarro
his big break, working for Julio Reoyo at
Mesón Doña Filo. 'I went to a hotel restaurant
because I needed to know big numbers -
how to serve 1,000 people in one day. And
Julio Reoyo was a very good mentor. He
taught me so much and introduced me to so
many people, people like Ferran Adrià and
Juan Mari Arzak.'
Spain in the late 1990s was emerging as a
gastronomic force to be reckoned with - and
yet in 1998, Pizarro upped sticks and moved Olé After wowing
José Pizarro is
now set to take
the City by storm.
The chef reveals all
about his new
WORDS BEN MCCORMACKJosé
'THE GREAT THING ABOUT BEING A CHEF IS THAT, IF YOU HAVE
THE TECHNIQUE, YOU CAN WORK ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD'
Clockwise from left: a dish of milk-fed leg of Castilian lamb; woodpanelled
Pizarro on Bermondsey Street; José prepares tapas
PORTRAITS: LAURIE FLECTCHER
2 | squaremeal.co.uk
restaurants � bars
squaremeal.co.uk | 3
bars � drink
Ping! New food o�er alert! Over
the coming weeks, if you choose
to join a restaurant queue in, let's
say, Soho, Shoreditch or Chelsea,
you're in with a chance of being
transported to Japan, China,
Taiwan or South Korea. Actually, there's a
high probability that you could also nd
yourself in Thailand, Vietnam or Malaysia,
too, with stop-o�s in Spain and India.
If you're a Londoner with your wits about
you and eyes on the restaurant scene, you'll
know that this city is chock-a-block with new
restaurants conjuring up heady combinations
of food inspired by the southern and eastern
parts of Asia. If you're an eater on the move,
you'll have struck o� Kimchinary's Korean
There's a new and exciting breed of restaurant taking over the capital's streets,
adding a touch of the west to cuisines from the east, and introducing London's
diners to a whole raft of unfamiliar �avours and ingredients WORDS VICTORIA STEWART
burritos, Hanoi Kitchen's banh mis and some
of Busan BBQ's burgers from your must-try
list when you last visited Street Feast.
Of course, if you're a TwEATer you'll
have got wind of the fact that the Young
British Foodie-award-winning street food
team @bao_london has just opened its
own restaurant, Bao, on Lexington Street
in Soho, with backing from Michelin-starred
chef Karam Sethi.
Not tried Taiwanese-style xiao long bao
yet? Then dip into Bó Drake on Greek Street,
which opened in February, serving baos,
kimchee quesadillas and other eastern
Asian/Mexican dishes. Then
there's Judy Joo's Amerikorean
fare at Jinjuu in Kingly Street, or
Wagyu beef sliders and sweet
potato and soba-ko fries at
Kurobuta on the King's Road.
And since we're naming
restaurants to visit ASAP, has
MUCH OF THE OBSESSION WITH
ORIENTAL FLAVOURS � SWEET, SOUR,
SALTY, CRUNCHY � HAS GROWN OUT
OF THE STREET FOOD MOVEMENT
Above: summer rolls from Hanoi Kitchen. Opposite page, from left to right: tonkotsu
ramen at Bone Daddies, and its Kensington branch; Som Saa chef Andy Oliver; a Thai
barbecue feast from Smoking Goat; the Bao team and one of their Taiwanese buns