Friday, 21 October 2011

José, Bermondsey, London

I arrived in London giddy with anticipation and the joys of an Indian summer. It was a scorching hot day, despite being the first of October, and I was flying off for a fortnights holiday the morning after.

Nothing makes me smile more than good weather and going on holiday. Chuck in some good food, good company and good views and you've got perfection.

The company would have to wait until Gatwick in the morning, but I could attend to the rest there and then. But where to dine? The forthcoming two weeks would be spent in Jordan and Israel, not nations renowned for their love of the pig. Pig was required. Requirement for pig + dining alone + icy cold drinks on a hot day = hot foot it to the nearest tapas bar.

Having heard the chorus of rave reviews it had to be José. It's a classic tapas bar. Hams hung from the ceiling, marble topped bar, small, hot and a miniscule kitchen area churning out top notch food.

A glass of beer and some exemplary padron peppers to begin with. There were a couple of spicy ones in there too which is always a bonus. Filtered and chilled tap water, proffered freely cooled the fire.

My original intention was to keep the bill to a moderate level, mindful of two weeks dining out ahead, so I ordered one of the cheaper piggy options, morcilla iberico with peas and broad beans. The peas and beans were very fresh tasting, still in great nick so late in the season, and a fantastic pairing with the morcilla. This was dense and iron-y, with a very firm texture almost like chorizo.

Bread and grassy, green oil were both great quality. A glass of fino was a fine companion to this and the morcilla.

Sherry goes to my head rapidly on a warm day, so suitably relaxed I then threw caution to the wind and ordered a plate of jamon iberico de bellota and a glass of manzanilla (thought process something along the lines of 'fuck it I'm on holiday').

The jamon was perfect. As good as any I've had anywhere ever. Expertly carved and utterly delicious, each morsel releasing a constant intense savoury-sweet flavour until it dissolves to nothing. I know of nothing else like it. Try it with any other meat, eat it like a boiled sweet rolling it around your mouth and letting it rest on your tongue. Eventually you will be left with nothing but a tasteless chunk of protein. Not with this stuff. It's bloody expensive but it's the meat that keeps on giving.

I remained in ham rapture for a good long while then, still feeling peckish ordered a slice of tortilla to finish things off. Well seasoned and with a soft, almost liquid centre it was very good. A fitting end to the meal.

Service was efficient and amenable, and I accidentally spent £40. Do bear in mind that well over half of that was on sherry and ham, so you can certainly eat here for much less than that.

Good food done, it was back to the good weather and a good view. I meandered up to the South Bank to the little area of parkland just by City Hall, and sat in the sun for a long while looking out over Tower Bridge and the City. Lovely.


104 Bermondsey Street

José on Urbanspoon


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