Ember Yard Soho
60 Berwick Street, London W1F 8SU
020 7439 8057/http://emberyard.co.uk
As part of a day out in Soho’s Berwick St Fiona from London Unattached and I were invited to have lunch at the Salt Yard Group’s new restaurant Ember Yard.
Their restaurants (Salt Yard, Dehesa and Opera Tavern) are all tapas based as is Ember Yard but as its name implies the new joint specialises in grilling, using a charcoal grill burning plum and sweet chestnut and a high temperature Josper grill.
Interiors are comfortable casual in brown wood and leather and as we perused the menu we sank a cocktail each from their unexpectedly intriguing looking drinks list.
Fiona had a Geppetto’s Tonica (Gin, Homemade Tonic Water and Grapefruit bitters-£10) which disappeared without a trace.
My Smoked Sazerac (Smoked sherry brandy, Peychaud bitters and anise perfume-£10) was a gentle take on the New Orleans classic with the sherry brandy infusing the drink with a delicious smokey aroma. Perfect for lunch…
But it was the food that we had come for. There are a lot of excellent tapas restaurants in London now-would Ember Yard deliver?
Grilled Flatbread with Honey, Thyme and Smoked Butter (£3.50) was chewy, smokey, with a hint of sweetness and a great char.
Padrón Peppers (£4.50) arrived with blistered skin and were hot, salty and full of flavour.
Grilled New Season Sardines with Summer Herb Emulsion and Crispy Sea Purslane (£6.50)-this was a great dish; the sardines’ skin was blackened to a crisp acting as a bitter counterpoint to the firm sweetness of the fish. Ember Yard majors in pairing proteins with emulsions and the slick of herby mayo gave a vegetal edge to the dish.
Oak Smoked Basque Beef Burger with Tetilla and Chorizo Ketchup (£6.50) had a deep smokey flavour and was described by Fiona as “very, very good!”
Piquillo and Smoked Ricotta Arancini with Fennel Aioli (£6) were dry and really crisp on the outside with an aniseed kick from the fennel aioli-really moreish.
Buttermilk Fried Squid with Capers, Lemon, Sage and Squid Ink Alioli (£6.50) showed that the chef on the deep-fat fryer wasn’t a one trick pony. The squid ink alioli added an umami note the proceedings.
Hot Smoked Butternut Squash with Goats’ Curd and Grape Jam (£6.50)-the squash was grilled to within an inch of its life bringing out its inherent sweetness, and combined with the sourness of the curd and grape jam made for a squishy mouthful
of taste pleasure!
Burrata with Chargrilled Aubergine, Focaccia, Chilli and Oregano (£8)-I’m a big fan of burrata and freshness is key. This one was fine without being great but nicely paired with the herb and chilli pesto, aubergine and focaccia giving a blend of tastes and textures.
Chocolate and Turrón Cake with Cherries and Rosemary Cream (£6.50)-Fiona regretted getting the kitchen to hold the cherries as they would have added sweetness and moisture to the dish.
Chargrilled Italian Peach with Amaretti, Mascarpone, Honey and Thyme (£6) was a welcome return to the grilling station. The peach was dripping with sweetness and had a terrific depth of flavour. This was a delicious and sensual dish.
You can drop into Ember Yard just for some cheese or charcuterie or for something more substantial. I had read some excellent reviews but somehow wasn’t expecting this level of quality. Go and enjoy.
Thanks to Fiona for the loan of some of her photos as my battery had run out!