Packed into the back end of Casa Mono is sister establishment Bar Jamon, the teeny-tiny wine bar serving cold tapas and wine to the dozen or so customers that can fit inside. I snagged two of the last seats just after 6 p.m.; by 6:30 the wine bar was packed to the gills with drinkers.
The food at Bar Jamon takes a backseat to the wine list, and most patrons didn't seem to be there to eat at all. Still, there's quite a list of raciones from the menu written on the mirror behind the bar—and more than a few worth ordering.
An order of Pulpo y Spicy Garbanzos ($11) arrived piled high with shaved ribbons of celery. The octopus itself was firm without being tough or too chewy, and had a great char from the grill. Eating it cold was interesting, and unexpectedly enjoyable; the chickpeas underneath, while deftly seasoned with plenty of heat and pimenton, were unfortunately undercooked, a problem exacerbated when served cold.
Manteca Toast with Oven Tomatoes ($8) was one of the best things we ate, but also the priciest for the portion size. The toast is spread with a bit of manteca, or lard, before being topped with thyme-scented, slow-roasted tomatoes bursting with caramelized flavor. The toast was the perfect consistency, toasted but not so tough that it was messy to eat, and the lard was a nice touch, but eight bucks for two tiny pieces was a little hard to take.
Soft Egg with Romesco ($9), meanwhile, was a better value. Here, a poached egg—chilled but with a perfectly runny yolk—sits atop a smoky, coarsely chopped romesco sauce that's heavy on the nuts. (As if I weren't already feeling ripped off by the tomato toast earlier, the romesco came served with a couple pieces of toast, topped with the same tomatoes. D'oh.) We certainly did not expect our one vegetarian dish to be the best one of the meal, but that was exactly the case.
Bar Jamon is not a cheap restaurant; really, in truth, it's more a bar than a restaurant. Still, they manage to do a lot, food-wise, with limited resources. Even as the place filled up in the after work rush, service remained efficient and professional. We spent $28 on food before tax and tip--just under our $15/person target price. What we didn't end up with was a great deal of food. Still, for a place to grab a drink and a snack after work, you could do much worse than Bar Jamon, especially if you feel like a splurge.
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