Josê had been on my list of restaurants to try for a long time yet until a few weeks ago I never quite made it there. Why? Well as most of us I am a bit of a creature of habit and spending a lot of time in central London a journey southward can seem like a lot of effort especially if you don't know if the trip will be worth it. I am also a bit of a novice when it comes to Spanish food, the selection of tapas i had sampled at Barrafina were of course great but my knowledge and enthusiasm for this cuisine was still rather limited. However the minute I walked down Bermondsey street, just a stones throw away from London Bridge station, I was already enchanted by its location and regretted that I hadn't explored this part of London before. The whole street feels like a little village in the shadow of the city and its tall glass buildings, with a variety of pubs, restaurants and little shops lining the street . Exactly this distinctively un-London atmosphere is what I also loved about the restaurant itself. Located in a beautiful corner building Josê's tiny space, just a few high stools and tables in a darkly lit room with an open kitchen that allows you to watch the chefs at action, had a real feeling of authenticity and a genuinely warm and vibrant atmosphere, very seldom found in London where sleek concepts sometimes make the eating experience a little too polished and impersonal. Once sat down the service proved exceptional, the Spanish staff more than happy to recommend dishes from the constantly changing and seasonal menu. Tapas classics like patatas brava (fried potato chunks served with a tomato sauce and delicious aioli) and pan con tomate (fresh tomato and garlic on soft bread) were despite their simplicity in ingredients exceptionally flavourful and dare I say at least in my opinion better executed than at Barrafina. Rather than sticking to classic dishes however they also use British ingredients to create moorish dishes like the salt cod croquettas which are traditionally filled with ham , showing great creativity by the kitchen. It was a real joy sharing and tasting a variety of dishes, decently priced and portioned, that encapsulated the flair of the Spanish cuisine perfectly and really did make me forget about the cold just outside the door. This little bit of Spain in London offers the perfect setting and food to escape the British winter and has truly converted me to tapas.
Pan con tomate
Salt cod croquettas