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Bar Tozino – A Splash of Spain in SE1

I’m sat outside Bar Tozino on a Thursday evening – glass of wine in one hand, tucking into some fine Spanish tapas with the other – and i pause to appreciate the moment, because it’s hidden gems like this one that make London such a brilliant city.

I must admit, I did think twice before writing this post, questioning whether I really wanted more people to frequent the charming little Spanish tapas bar.  But, this is the kind of place people need to know about – because it’s a pure joy.

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Head down LASSCO Ropewalk (a pedestrian pathway located on Maltby Street) in Bermondsey, and Bar Tozino will be your unexpected surprise at the end on the left hand side.  P.S. On a somewhat related note, every weekend, The Maltby Street Market sets up in LASSCO Ropewalk (Saturday 9-4pm & Sunday 11-4pm) serving up all sorts of gastronomic delights and if you haven’t already, it’s well worth checking out.

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Hidden away under a railway arch, Bar Tozino is the creation of supposedly the two best jamon carvers in London (who’ve previously cut jamon for the likes of Ferrán Adria and the Spanish Royal Family).  And jamon is what it’s all about here.

The inside is seductively dark and oozes with character, varieties of jamon galore hang proudly from the ceiling.  Staff are carefully hand carving beautiful slivers behind the counter.  The setting is just perfect – in both looks & atmosphere.

Seating is sparse, so bear this in mind – either stand at the bar counter, or get there early & grab one of the handful of tables.

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We nabbed the last remaining one outside and settled down to ponder over the drinks list.  There’s a decent choice of wines (by the glass too) along with cava, sherry, & Moritz beer on tap.  Our bottle of white (that was thoroughly enjoyed) arrived in a quirky bottle sprawled with Catalan swear words – had we the skills to translate, i’m sure it would have provided some light entertainment as we soaked up the sun.

Bar Tozino’s food menu boasts a fantastic selection of jamon from various regions of Spain, along with cheeses, cured seafood and a short but sweet variety of authentic hot tapas.

Here’s what we had…

N.B. Sweet toother-ers needn’t save room for desserts, since there aren’t any – although you can always swing by St John’s bakery next door & pick up a doughnut!

All of the dishes, along with their presentation, were excellent – from the charcuterie plates, with each slice carved to perfection, to the cheese board to the hot tapas. We put away 7 items plus the bottle of wine for around £40 a head.  So yes, it does add up – but for me, this quality of produce is worthy of the expense.

The bar’s Spanish staff provide an efficient & friendly service – you can literally feel their passion for the produce as they serve – and that’s what it’s all about.

Now to put this place into context.  I rarely go for Spanish tapas simply because there are too many bad or mediocre tapas joints in London serving up dishes which I’m pretty sure came straight out of a freezer. However, along with Barrafina, Bar Tozino sets a very high benchmark and has definitely been my most enjoyable tapas experience in London to date.  I suspect it will be difficult to rival in my book – it had pretty much everything i wanted for that post-work relaxed summer evening – a laid back buzz, good wine & something tasty to snack on.  I’ve been longing after another visit ever since.

N.B. Be aware that the scene at the weekend is totally different – the bar is heaving with crowds from The Maltby Street Market, and although the vibe is brilliant, it’s much harder to find space to perch and service cannot be as attentive, for obvious reasons.  So, deciding when to go really depends on what kind of an atmosphere you’re after.

Dips Bites:  Spaniards praise Bar Tozino’s authenticity as second to none and it’s seen to be the closest thing to a traditional Spanish jamon bodega as you’ll find in London.  That, along with the sheer number of Spaniards who frequent it, and i think one has plenty of credentials to go on.

For me, Bar Tozino’s originality, quality & sincerity triumphs over all of those alleged “authentic” tapas restaurants in London.  It’s a must visit for Spanish food & wine fans and especially if like me, you’ve a soft spot for a good quality plate of jamon.  

If you’re in the area, it’s a wonderful spot for a quick drink and bite to eat, and if you’re not, it’s well worth seeking out for a leisurely meal sampling the menu with friends, workmates or a date.   

I particularly love that there’s no fuss or frills – just excellent Spanish tapas & wine and an atmosphere to match.  I commend Bar Tozino for the brilliant place it is – a place that will magically transport you back to Spain without a plane in sight.  

http://www.bartozino.com/

Lassco Ropewalk, Maltby St, SE1 3PA

Open Wednesday & Thursday 5-10pm, Fridays 12pm-10pm, Saturday 10am – 10pm & Sunday 12pm – 5pm

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