Jamon Jamon isn’t just about eating Spanish food, it’s about bringing a little bit of Spain to London. Enter the doors, settle down and leave Camden behind.
The restaurant’s bright yellow front emblazoned with black metal branding-iron style letters “Jamon Jamon” makes it hard to miss, even on a stretch of door-to-door restaurants. Jamon Jamon has been giving a sunny, Mediterranean outlook to the area since 2002, and inside, the sunny, Mediterranean look continues. A large window at the front and sky light at the back work to maximise London’s sun. Stone (or perhaps stone-look) walls, wooden floors and a scattering of plants give a distinctly Spanish feel, making it every bit one of the darkened tapas bars of Barcelona, just a bit lighter and brighter.
Service goes beyond polite, with staff conversing with customers as if they were old friends, giving the restaurant a brilliantly communal, friendly atmosphere that is very Spanish in character.
As would be expected given the look of the restaurant, it’s authentic tapas that’s the order of the day at Jamon Jamon. There are no frills, just simply cooked dishes the way they’d be done in an old-school Spanish bar. A “tabla” of meat and cheese comes with a choice of meats that lives up to the restaurant’s name. There’s Jamon Serrano (cured ham), Lomo Iberico (cured pork loin), Chorizo Iberico and Salchichon Iberico (salami). The Serrano ham is clearly high quality, with a deep taste and melt-in-the-mouth texture, plus not too much fat. Manchego which accompanies it is equally well-received, and a hefty portion of any two meats or cheese is fairly good value at £8.95.
Pisto Manchego (£4.75) is a medley of aubergine, courgette, red and green peppers and onions in a garlicky tomato sauce rich with a peppery olive oil. Croquetas de cabrales (£4.75) come stuffed with blue cheese. They’re unlikely to rival the classic croquetas, but a fun twist on the theme all the same and what’s particularly notable is the sweet, crunchy breadcrumbed outer layer which gives them much needed bite and contrasts well with the cheese. The same breadcrumb and frying technique also help make Berenjenas rebozadas (fried aubergine, £4.75) a triumph, with the sweet outer contrasting the gooey aubergine centre.
Gambas al ajillo (£6.25), sizzling prawns in olive oil, garlic and chilli come to the table topped with a plate just to keep all the sizzling in, and there’s whole pieces of garlic and chilli floating in the olive oil. The level of flavour and the drama involved in the serving make it a highlight, though the next dish steals the show. Bacalao con Alioli (£5.95), salt cod, is topped with potatoes and red peppers then sealed with a hefty portion of garlic mayonnaise before being grilled. To the uninitiated, hot mayonnaise doesn’t sound the most appealing option, but it really works, becoming something of a garlicky hollandaise.
Tapas and sherry are certain bedfellows, and Jamon Jamon has a decent list which covers all the regulars. A pleasantly salty tasting Manzanilla is ideal with green olives, whilst a sweeter Amontillado offers a richer drink that’s good with cheeses and could even stretch to dessert. There’s also Sangria, Cava and good range of Spanish beers and wines.
The Last Word
If Spain seems too far away, a trip to Jamon Jamon may be the answer. From decor to service to food, it’s all so authentic and homely that you’d never guess it was NW1.