The Return to Joses

The best restaurants are the hardest to write about. Especially when you have some personal memories of the place, like um.. first (and probably second and third) date with hubby, reunions with friends and, well, Thursdays. In London everybody goes out on Thursdays. I will never be objective about Joses. But I can try explaining what got me so attached and what it is that keeps calling me back. Joses is a wine and tapas bar on Bermondsay street in London, just blocks away from where I used to live (when I was still cool).

No reservation accepted, you wait for your turn and you must eat (not just drink wine). Many rules for such a small place, but that’s is what screams quality. Joses is a pearl of a place where first come first serve; and the good stuff lasts as long as it lasts. There is not much interior design needed. This could be any tapas bar in Barcelona or Madrid, with the menu on the wall and delicious ham hanging from the ceiling. There is a continuous buzz behind the counter, and being a little bit stressed is a virtue for the waiter. Joses is not a place for people in search of a cushioned seat and friendly service (although the service is actually quite friendly), its a place to come and drink cava and have olive oil run down from the side of your mouth.

The wine list at Joses is Spanish. It’s Cava, its Xarello, Rioja, Mencia and Merlots. The list is not innovative, but it is a ticket for a wine tour in the home country of its founders. Prices are reasonable for a bar on trendy Bermondsey street, and you will easily be tempted into buying the whole bottle. Bottle prices in London are low compared to monopolist Sweden.

Food menu includes quite traditional Spanish tapas: Padron peppers, Patatas Bravas dried meats, some seafood like Gambas and omelettes, as well as some more innovative dishes. Everything is simple and unpretentios, and  Joses has (still) the best Pluma Iberico I have ever tasted (in the picture). When the ingredients for a dish run out in the kitchen, then it is crossed out from the menu. The best cuts of meat of course run out first.

But the charm of Joses goes beyond food and wine. It’s just the place for those Thursdays. We used to go there to start our weekends early, with nibbles and a bottle of wine. We sat at the counter and thought: this is how our life will be – free to do whatever we want, filled with warmth and wine.

xx Soile

Just based on the looks, Jose could be any tapas bar in Barcelona or Madrid. Picture: Soile Vauhkonen
Just based on the looks, Jose could be any tapas bar in Barcelona or Madrid. Picture: Soile Vauhkonen


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