Really, why did we have to come back from our holiday in Spain? On that flight home, I’d never seen us so miserable.
For me, it was about the Iberico ham. I’d had it everyday, either for breakfast, lunch, a light snack or dinner. Sometimes even dessert.
For him, it was more a combination of missing the salty Padrón peppers and returning the hire-car. A lovely Citroen. We sang our hearts out to Adele in that car. We’d been like Thelma and Louis(e) in that car, cruising from one Spanish town to the next. Now we were just…boring English us again.
Which is why, by the time we got to the exit for the Medium Stay Car Park at Heathrow, it was already decided that we’d go to José for dinner!
Everyone’s been talking about this little Tapas gem recently. Manned by Spanish chef, José Pizarro, [who we chatted to and found to be VERY COOL], the bar has a rather auspicious buzz about it already. Could that be because it’s on Bermondsey St and everything on Bermondsey St is just a bit better than everywhere else? Probs.
‘Oh it really is a bar’ – I remarked to Valentina our waitress [the friendliest loveliest woman ever to grace Bermondsey St. She has a fixie bike and everything!] Nearly all the customers were on their feet noshing, supping, popping out for the odd cig. Course if you’re more of a sit-down-and-eat kind of person, that’s also an option. We were put on two stools by the window which did nicely. Valentina said we ‘needed’ some Sherries (because that is half the magic here), so a couple of handsome sherries arrived with our almonds and olives. We each grabbed a menu. It was good news. They had Iberico ham and padron peppers!!
Pizarro is from Extremadura, which is where a) Iberico ham originates and b) where they breed acorn-fed pigs (“bellota”). Basically, pigs fed on acorns are like royalty. Cut into shiny slithers, a portion at José costs £9. If you’re a ham lover, the texture and taste should justify the price. If it doesn’t, then you can’t like ham as much as me. If I had a whole leg of the stuff and someone tried to steal it from me, I would almost certainly put them in hospital.
Speaking of pigs… we couldn’t have ordered more if we tried. We opted for some of the hot specials cooked on the plancha (grill) like the pork and the squid with allioli, which stood out mainly on account of it being the most delicious thing either of us has ever put in our mouths [excluding iberico ham and padron peppers]. Other notable dishes were the chorizo [11 out of 10] Pisto, crispy duck egg (pisto is a courgette-y sauce), peas, poached egg, migas and chorizo (migas is usually day-old bread) and the lamb meatballs. Well they were just unavoidable.
Lovely Valentina popped up now and again with a fresh pair of sherries for us to try. Our increasingly sozzled grins didn’t seem to deter her. Looking back, I think she was trying to get us drunk which may be our only complaint. Well that’s just a complete lie.
The quality of the food and sherry is priced fairly and from talking to José, it’s clear he’s not pissing about. If you’re looking for authentic tapas, this is the real deal.
104 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3UB, 020-7403 490
*Open all week, noon-10.30pm Mon-Sat, noon-5.30pm Sun. Meal with drinks, from about £25 a head.