Whilst struggling to keep dry beneath a shared umbrella – we take a short walk from London Bridge towards Bermondsey street. Rain is never a good start to a Friday night- especially as it`s nearing the end of June and we should to be basking in sun beams – but then again, we are in England. We Arrive at our eating/drinking venue a little soggy underfoot and determined not to let the miserable weather dampen our spirits.
They say that good things come in small packages- this is very much the case with Jose Tapas and Sherry Bar. But what is lacks in Size it certainly makes up for in atmosphere and food. Upon entering we can see why at only just approaching 7.00 pm, this little venue is already full and bustling with diners all keen to experience, what seems to be such a rarity in London, truly exceptional Tapas.
Until a suitable space become available, we are asked if we would mind sharing a traditional Spanish Barreltable with two other diners- who were already nibbling their way through a plate of salted Marcona almonds and the shiniest gem like green manzanilla olives I’ve seen in long time, they look so tempting I feel my gaze fixing on them for slightly too long that I quickly have to look away feeling slightly embarrassed. Our Waiter returns with a much needed glass of perfectly chilled Fino, Tio Pepe Muy Seco, Gonzales Byass. My dining companion isn’t the biggest fan of Sherry, but even she was won over by this flaxen coloured little beauty- a few sips and our sodden shoes and frizzing hair seemed like a long memory away.
A few more sips in and it was time to bid Addios to our charming chaps and their tempting manzillas- escorted to a cosy little nook facing the bustling open Kitchen- prime view, we can see the Chef Jose Pizarro, and his finely tuned team in action. What a treat- watching as they create dish after dish of mouth watering tapas.
Our first treat is the much drooled after Jamon Iberico Manuel Maldonado- one of the more expensive plates at £9.00 but well worth it- each slice expertly carved with true passion by Jose (most of the tapas vary from £3.00 – £10) b- I’m not a big fan of any type of fat on meat cured or un cured, but this was truly heaven on your tongue buttery rather than oilysinewy fat that a great deal of meats have -a must to order. We veered away from a sherry for this plate and opted for a glass of Coto De Gomariz,Treixadura/Loureira, Rebeiro – , recommended by our very helpful waitress which so happens to be one of my favourite Spanish wines, very good choice.
Next came the Clams in their own stock lifted with a little splash of sherry – ordered from the board ( there are set Tapas to choose from as well as Market Fresh items) which showcase the best seasonal ingredients. And the most succulent Prawns with a hint of Chilli. Followed by Croquetas and Boquerones perfectly teamed, allowing the slight sharpness of the vinegar to cut through the rich creaming filling of the golden crumbed croquetas- cooked to sheer perfection.
I loved the fact that each plate was cooked fresh to order- the joy of little dishes being you can experience so many treats and flavours in just one sitting. José’s tomato bread has also been raved about, and is truly delectable- not disappointingly soggy as so many others can be.
We’re almost done- after two more fish dishes , Mackerel escabeche and Hake, Allioli. As a big fish fan, I found it almost impossible to choose my favourite-the Mackerel was flavoursome and melt in the mouth delicious with a refreshing addition of mint to cleanse and refresh the palette. The Hake was exceptional, chunky flakes of white fish accompanied by a light and delicious Allioli.
Despite our consumption of sherry and proximity to the kitchen- I’m sure I would normally have felt the heat, but the tiled walls of Jose remains pleasantly cool, as does its diners- despite the crowds drawing in around us and barely enough space to jutt out an elbow. All of which seem happy being in such close proximity to one an another.
Jose- is a real dining experience not to be missed, a little gem of a place to be added to your secret address book. Next time you feel the urge for truly authentic and really tasty Tapas, Drop in on Jose- he and his team will make you feel very welcome.
I would highly recommend the Pluma Iberica with peppers, so tender it almost melts in your mouth and if you have room to fit in something sweet – finish with the sublime Chocolate Mousse – made from 70% cocoa smooth and velvety and not too sickly sweet a very grown up chocolate mousse- washed down with oloroso Matusalem, Gonzales Byass- a rich almost treacley sherry.
My only negative comment regarding Jose would be – that I dont want too many more people to discover how great a find it really is, as its only been open just over a month and is packed most week nights, purely for selfish reasons as I want to be able to get a space next time I visit, which will be very soon I can guarantee you that. And Don’t be afraid to order the sherry, it certainly beats anything your gran would’ve tried to tempt you with.
No reservations allowed.
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