This vaguely uncomfortable way of dining is tolerated not only for the lively and bustling atmosphere, but for the food. Incredible in simplicity but by being so goddamn tasty. Visiting again last week, I was able to try more dishes and reaffirm the dishes that I will now day-dream about.
Ham croquettes were crisp on the outside, gorgeously creamy and studded with flesh within. I just don't understand how they make them; melting in the mouth and just the right shade of richness.
Jamon Iberico is sliced by hand and the creamy, gorgeous fat makes me salivate just thinking about it. I recently sat next to someone at a dinner who proudly exclaimed 'I even cut the fat off Parma ham!' which has now made me pity her even more than I did on the night. This was so good that the four of us ordered three plates of this over the course of our visit.
Pan con tomate (background) is often a disappointment to me as the tomato makes the bread a bit gross and soggy, but for some reason José's version just works. I'm fairly certain it's the liberal amount of garlic the bread is rubbed with.
THE PRAWNS. The chilli garlic prawns are perhaps the best I've eaten. Cooked to perfection and amazingly sweet.
Another addictive plate was the peas with poached egg, chorizo and migas (croutons). Egg yolk spilled out, making a sauce for the fresh, just-done peas.
The 'are you sure?' plate comes in the form of Pluma Iberica - rare grilled pork. My mum's eyes widened as the plate was set down. Understandable really, since many of us have been conditioned to think that pork must be cooked through, but this stuff is different. Of a far higher quality than normal pork, it tastes almost beefy, but with the tastiness of pork fat.
It's not all breathtakingly spectacular. Though the patatas with our bravas were cooked to crispy perfection, the tomato sauce could have had a touch more kick.
Similarly, the aioli served with the hake could have done with much, much more garlic. I like my aioli almost spicy with the stuff, but in this I failed to notice it at all.
Washed down with a bottle of Manzanilla sherry, I fell in love with the place. It would be amazing if there were a couple more tapas bars of the same ilk nearby so that you could do that proper tapas thing of going place to place, a little bite in each, but until London is ready for that, you'll find me throwing back the sherry and munching on jamon at José.
104 Bermondsey Street,
London, SE1 3UB
They do not take bookings.