Wednesday, July 27, 2011

José: not just jamon - restaurant review

A lot has been written about Jose Pizarro's new tapas joint on Bermondsey Street and many of the reviews have focused on the (apparently) exceptional jamon. 

Tapas can be tricky for veggies, with meaty dishes often dominating the menu, so I was interested to see what was on offer for non-carnivores and pescatarians.  I'm very happy to report that, although the menu is relatively concise (with the addition of a daily specials board), there were a few veggie dishes and several more fishy ones.

Jose is a teeny-tiny, traditional tapas bar.  If you're lucky you might grab a stool to perch at the counter, otherwise you'll have to stand.  This certainly doesn't deter anyone.  On a dull Tuesday lunchtime, the place was packed and buzzy.

The staff are very pleasant and know their stuff. They're happy to give advice on food and provide recommendations on sherry to go with your order - particularly helpful if you know nothing at all about sherry (me).

We enjoyed everything we ordered but three of the dishes really stood out for me.  Firstly the mackerel escabeche: two little fillets (no bones, hurrah!) perfectly cooked with a crispy skin, was delicate and fresh.  Secondly, boring as it may sound, the tomato bread was exceptional: a crunchy crust with the tomato juices soaked through the top of the bread (no picture I'm afraid, we wolfed it down).  Finally the patatas bravas - another seemingly standard choice but they're so often badly done.  These were golden and crispy with just the right amount of sauce. 

If you want to read a bit more about Jose, I'd recommend the Dos Hermanos write up - lots more about the meat too!

Jose is a fantastic little tapas bar, I can't wait to go back.  I'm also looking forward to the opening of 'Pizarro', Jose's next venture on Bermondsey Street, which will be a much larger, sit-down restaurant. 

Squid with salmorejo (tomato cream sauce)

Perfect patatas bravas

Mackerel escabeche

Crispy duck egg with pisto

José on Urbanspoon


  1. This looks so good, can't wait to finally go to Jose. I didn't know he was planning another restaurant in Bermondsey Street, great news! Bermondsey Street really becomes more and more of a foodie destination.

  2. It really was good - pretty authentic. Jose seems to spend most of his time there too, which is nice to see. Pizarro is going to be on the site of the old Bermondsey Kitchen - walked past yesterday and it looked like refurb was at fairly early stages. I love Bermondsey St - makes me wish I still lived in E1!


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