When all hope is lost, what does an Englishman do in London? He goes in one of his favourite bars and starts to order a drink. Well, in this bar you can’t get a drink without a snack to eat. Here you have to order Tapas! And believe me, you should!
Last Friday it was the third time I have been at Josẽ which is at Bermondsey Street. He opened his restaurant not so long ago – let’s say about 3 month ago? Even before he opened it was clear that it should be something to wonder about: Because this tapas bar is really tiny. It is maybe just 36sqm So if you are very lucky and you find a sitting place, be prepared to be shoved by all the people who still think there at the windows they could stand – just so.
But now comes the disappointment: Chicory with Cabrales Blue Cheese and Walnuts is not on the menu anymore. Why not? Because chicory is a seasonal salad! And now because it is autumn there should be some other great stuff on the menu. (Go and get José Pizarro’s ‘Seasonal Spanish Food’ in any book store.)
So we order an jerez (or ‘sherry’ for the Englishman), my former colleague a red wine, because he knows Sherry only for cooking in some strange recipes, and a couple of tapas: Olives, chorizo, shrimp croquettes, tortilla de patatas. The olives are as usual, chorizo as well. The croquettes are exceptional and the tortilla has a light taste which is, for me as a noodle maniac, a surprise and one more time I can see why so many people really do like potatoes.
The deputy manager Valentina comes and asks if everything is ok. Well yes, it is! And if I look around, I am happy that we where able to grab a stool and have a place were we could sit and watch the world outside go by. ‘Well, after the season for chicory is over – do you have something as perfect as those tapa? Because that’s really a shock that chicory is gone!’
‘Yes, we do have! The chanterelle with onions if you like to try?’ – ‘Ok, then bring us some and croquettes as well! And, please, a glass of red wine and one of the jerez!’
Truly, we are sitting here since one hour and the hustle and bustle has been more and more has been growing all this time. People who want to go with friends for a drink and some tapas are standing or sitting at one of the table and start the evening with wine – or sherry.
The chanterelle are coming as well as the second tapas of croquettes. And the recommendation of the deputy manager was correct: It is an exceptional recipe! The chanterelles with the nearly creamy small cut onions and the grated cheese on top; the mushrooms still smelled like the chanterelle in the Black Forest, and the half cut onion has been partialy melting with the sauce and some sugar and gave off a very nice taste into our noses.
So, if someone of you has time to come to London or has business in London, Bermondsey Street is definitely a place to go. Although the Bermondsey Kitchen is gone but some of the people (one cook I saw that Friday for example at Josẽ, perfect!) from there seem to have found a new place at this tapas bar: Even when all hope is already gone and when the summer is over to get chicory from the fresh market. Because José Pizarro’s Tapas Bar is one of the best in London, maybe the best anyway!