Sunday, 30 October 2011

Jose - Better than Brindisa?

I have to start with a confession - I love Brindisa.  I have never had a bad meal there.  I don't even recall being disappointed by any of the dishes I have eaten - and there have been many.  So I may be a little biased towards anything which, or anyone who, is in any way related to what many consider to be home of Spanish cooking and ingredients in London.  When the head chef and partner of Brindisa, Jose Pizarro, decided to head off to start his own food revolution, I was always going to go.

The guys at Jose.
If you've never been to Bermondsey Street, and I suppose, unless you've lived somewhere near, you may not have, you really should.  There are a couple of good bars in the Hide and the Woolpack and possibly the best Italian in London in Zucca.  And a true gem of a tapas place called Jose.  If you are looking for a place to sit down and enjoy your usual three courser, then Jose is not the place for you.  Predominantly standing, rammed to the rafters with a few high chairs dotted about, this is a true tapas bar with a kitchen open to the elements.

We had popped in previously for a quick drink and bite to eat after work to tide us over until our reservation at Brawn later on that evening (two meals in one night you say?  My excuse - its tapas, we're just doing what the Spanish do).  That time we had razor clams with chorizo and mint (as good as Pinotxo in the Boqueria Market in Barcelona, its that good) and sea bream with morcilla (Spanish black pudding) and roasted red peppers (simply incredible).

After that tantalising taster I had to return to do the menu full justice.  And return we did, going along early expecting to beat the dinner rush- we didn't, this place is always mobbed.  However after a few minutes waiting we managed to get a couple of seats at the end of the bar and started to order dish after dish.

For "mains" (not that there is such a thing in tapas) we had:

Padron Peppers:

Pain et tomate (the Spanish version of bruschetta- simple, delicious)

Deep fried hake with aioli and paprika dulce (slow starter and a little underseasoned but got better with every mouthful):

Chicken livers and red onion (rich livers, glazed red onions, brilliant)

Butternut squash and blue cheese (a small variety of squash, stuffed with blue cheese and radicchio - the sweet squash worked really well with the tartness of the blue cheese and the bitter radicchio)

Pisto and Duck's egg (Spanish take on ratatouille with crispy duck's egg and runny yolk)

Chorizo Iberico Manuel Maldonado and breadsticks

Then we had a cheese board with the ubiquitous Manchego (really good this time though), a soft goats chesese from Catalonia (if anyone knows the name of this please let me know as it was incredible), a creamy blue cheese which a nice bite (I forgot the name) all served with a tasty sweet tomato jam.

Now for some people that may have been enough, but we weren't planning on heading out after.  So, after a short pause, we asked about desserts - this is not really Jose's speciality but they did have one option which the waitress said we had to try - having searched on the internet I think it must have been torrijas borrachas (literally "drunk torrijas")- delicious red wine soaked bread with sugar and cinnamon -  sounds terrible, looks horrible, tasted amazing.  We also had a glass each of pedro ximinez and muscadet - Christmas in a glass.

After my first visit I was a little nervous that Jose might not be able to match their previous heights- I need not have worried.  Round 2 was a knock out.
José on Urbanspoon

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