We ended up at Jamonera quite randomly one evening while walking the streets of Philadelphia trying to get ourselves acquainted with the city. We stumbled upon 13th street which seemed like the place to be on a Monday night since all the restaurants were packed. Since then I have learned more about chef Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran and their 13th street empire. They practically own the entire block with Jamonera being one of several of their restaurants (which I have yet to try).
Jamonera is a wine bar specializing in Spanish tapas. We walked in to a very dimly lit restaurant with red reflector lights displaying the wine bar and art work on the walls. We were immediately seated and served a small plate of gourmet olives. We started our dinner with the Crispy Cana de Cabra: fried goat cheese served with salad, picked cherries in a sherry vinaigrette.The goat cheese was creamy and crispy on the outside and combined well with the cherries and tangy flavors of the salad.
The Papa Frita was next: a plate of crispy skin potatoes, wood smoked garlic aioli, brava salt and house made sherry vinegar-hot sauce. I found that the potato skins were not crispy but chewy. I don’t like eating potato skins if its not completely crispy. Besides that, the pieces that didn’t have the skin were good: crispy on the outside and well cooked on the inside. It was not an extraordinary dish and like many I’ve had at other tapas restaurants around the world. Perhaps, a bit too oily.
Next was the Berenjenas: crispy eggplant served on top of a smoked tomato salmorejo and truffle honey layered with Parmesan. This was my favorite dish. I have never had eggplant served this way and thought it was a wonderful creation. I will definitely attempt to make this at home. The eggplant was crispy with the creaminess on the inside. The sauce went perfectly with the eggplant.
By this point we were both full. The portions were much larger than we expected. Given the price I assumed the dishes would be a lot smaller so we had ordered more dishes than our stomachs could take in. Next was the Calamarest en su tinta: crispy calamari which was fried in its own black ink, served with lemon aioli and garlic chips. The Count is not a big fan of tentacles but I can’t get enough. I think I finished this plate on my own. The Calamari was fresh and melted in my mouth, not at all chewy like I’ve had at other spots. I didn’t really taste the ink and think it is added more for it’s visual effect. It could have used more flavor as the calamari was a bit on the flavorless side and there was not enough lemon or dipping sauce to add the proper flavours.
The next dish was a definite first: roasted Spanish peppers. It seemed to be quite a simple dish: peppers sauteed in olive oil sprinkled with salt and viola: a new favorite. I did find that it was a bit too oily but it was too good to care.
We were so full but still had more food coming! Our last plate was the wild mushroom tosta: seared mushrooms, dry oloroso, cadi urgelia cheese, grilled ramps drizzled with truffle oil served on toast. The mushrooms were very strong and drowned out the other flavors. But overall it was a bit too oily for my taste buds.
Stuffed at this point, the waiter came over with the dessert menu. The Count and I looked at each other and knew there was physically no more room for dessert. Maybe next time we will know better than to order half the menu! I enjoyed our meal at Jamonera. Overall, the dishes were delicious but a bit on the greasy side. Don’t expect to have anything healthy if you are going here as many of the items have some fried element. It’s a great place to dine for a small group as the restaurant is quite small and the tables are literally one right next to the other. If you don’t like intimate settings where you can feel your neighbour breathing then ask for outdoor seating.