Saturday, April 3, 2010
Bar Jamon: Wine, Tapas, and Dark Corners
Restaurant Name: Bar Jamon
Restaurant Location: 125 E. 17th Street, NYC
Bar Jamon is the teeny tiny sister location to Mario Batali's Casa Mono, with whom it shares a corner (and a kitchen) near Union Square. Atmospheric, with its dark wood and low lighting, this bar provides the perfect spot for drinks and excellent tapas. The place is truly miniscule and can fill up fast, but patient hovering usually pays off.
Bar Jamon is a great place to do nothing but drink wine (served by the bottle or in cuartos, which amount to about a glass and a half), but they also have a pretty extensive menu of gorgeous, creative tapas, too (the menu does not overlap with that at Casa Mono).
Over the course of a couple of visits, here's what I've tried (all of which I'd happily recommend):
The Coach Farm Piquillo consists of a glistening piquillo pepper stuffed with herbed Coach Farm goat cheese and served on a bed of raddichio and citrus fruits. It's much larger than I'd expected (more than enough for two to share), and the bed of tangy fruits and lettuces provides a delicious counterpoint to the plump, rich cheese-stuffed pepper reclining atop it.
The Pulpo with Spiced Garbanzos was also much bigger than anticipated and consisted of perfectly grilled meaty sections of octopus served on a mound of crisp, spicy garbanzo beans. I'm not usually a big fan of octopus, I guess partly because it's often poorly prepared, but this was excellent. My only complaint would be that the garbanzos were a bit dull; they didn't bring much to the overall preparation. They might have been better fried (as so many things are).
The thinly sliced Chorizo with Pickled Peppers was a smaller portion - about five or six wafer-like rounds of chorizo with a tangle of peppers piled atop. Very edible, but nothing out of the ordinary here.
Finally, the Jamon Serrano was a generous portion of really lovely, tender cured serrano ham served with chewy Italian bread. This by itself would be a great accompaniment to a cuarto of wine.
And, speaking of wine, I've sampled three different cuartos at Bar Jamon:
the Oro de Castillo, a bright and tany Verdejo; the Agro de Bazan, a full, lush Albarino; and the Olivares, a very drinkable Garnacha with a good finish. Most of the cuartos range from $9 to $19, and at the lower end of that scale, the Garnacha was an especially good deal.