I recently went to the opening of José on my own wee Bermondsey Street.
José is a new tapas bar opened by José Pizarro, co-founder and former executive chef of Tapas Brindisa (itself an SE1 and Mr Christopher institution), and is inspired by the tapas joints of Barcelona’s bustling Boquería market. It's low-key, small, busy and very suited to Bermondsey Street.
José was so busy on the launch night – and has been the couple of times I've been back since – that punters tend to stand rather than sit, which adds to the authentic, bustling atmosphere and keeps the place lively. Despite being rushed off their feet, the staff were very attentive and able to talk in depth about each dish.
José himself (above) is affable and looks like a mischievous little devil – although if according to his works shall a man be judged, this guy is an angel: the menu changes daily and features incredible jamón ibérico de bellota, boquerones, croquettes and a very simple but very good tomato mush on bread. It doesn't sound like much, but I promise you would like it. The Spanish wine list was curated by Tim Atkin and has a strong focus on sherry, which I'm told Sr. Pizarro believes is well-overdue a renaissance in the UK, and a decent range of prices.
With a larger, more formal restaurant in the same area in the pipeline for later this year, José Pizarro appears to be establishing an empire in SE1. Lord knows, he has made an auspicious start.
José, 104 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3UB