Reminiscing in Bermondsey: José
After our first trip to Pizarro about a month ago, we felt inclined to make a visit to Chef José Pizarro's aptly named first restaurant, José. Neither of these restaurants take reservations and during the first visit to Pizarro, we arrived at 6:30 to find the place almost empty, so grabbed a quick cocktail at Village East before sneaking into two perfect bar seats at 7. Given this inside knowledge we rolled up to José at about 6:45 to find the place packed. José is much smaller than Pizarro and serves only about 25 people at a time, most of whom are standing while eating. Nonetheless the food was unbelievable. The tapas at José are similar to those at Pizarro but somewhat more authentic and rustic. Over the bar are a few specials, several of which were sold out when we walked in the door. The first thing that drew our eye were the calcots with romesco (£3.00). Calcots are essentially grilled onions from Catalonia in Spain. We have been dying to attend the Calcotada festival outside of Barcelona for a while but unfortunately missed out again this year. This taste at José reignited our desire to go. The onions were surprisingly mild and tender, it was, amazing.
Second dish was freshly sauteed squid with a homemade aioli and capers. I don't think I have ever had squid this fresh, and they were bathed in a fresh lemon herb sauce. We even had to order some extra bread afterwards to clean up the sauce they were served in because it was so good(£9.00 w/ the extra bread in olive oil)
Next was our favorite of the night, grilled sea bream (£7.00) with roasted red peppers and morcilla de ibéric (a black pudding sausage). The sausage was so flavorful and dense, on it's own it would have been far too salty but combined with the sea bream the combinations of flavors were perfect.
The last two dishes we had were the potatas bravas (£4.00) and the fried chorizo on toast (£6.00). We ordered the potatas bravas because it reminded us of our time we spent in San Sebastian 18 months ago. This version blew the original out of the water. The potatoes were so fresh and fried to perfection, most likely twice fried because they were super crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. Chorizo on toast? How could that be bad. These came out in meatball form and were the perfect compliment to the leftover bread we got to soak up squid juice.
Dinner for two with service and two beers was £39.00. Truthfully though, we could probably have been fine without the Chorizo and extra bread, but it was worth it in the end. We will return soon!