Ember Yard

The latest brain child of Salt Yard Chef director Ben Tish and co-founder Simon Mullins is Ember Yard. They are also responsible for the much loved, Dehesa and The Opera Tavern. Placed smack in the heart of Soho is bustling, brimming with flavour and a very exciting addition to the area with head chef Jacques Fourie (transferred across from Salt Yard) at the kitchens helm. Knowing that this is what Salt Yard do best, I was excited to bring a friend, fellow food lover, and enthusiastic eater, on a tapas tasting treat of a Tuesday eve. The seasonal bedlam in the city centre made Ember Yard a blessing with the sweat smell of flame over charcoal and wood as you approach. We were welcomed out of the cold into a comfortably lit, wood tabled, rustic clad oasis of grilling. The trendy, yet laid back and relaxing vibe of the restaurant brings a true ambience to mull over the extensive and adventurous menu. All of the much loved and known Mediterranean ingredients are on offer both on the bar snacks menu and the full tapas / sharing plates list. While we mulled over our choices we ordered some arbequina olives from bar snacks, the quality of which I thought you could only get on holiday in Spain. For those olives alone I have already decided to venture back to the downstairs bar, in order to slowly work my way through the cocktail menu and bowls, yes plural, of olives. Continuing in the popular Spanish and Italian flavour that Salt Yard has become known for, Ember Yard is focusing more on the Basque tradition, a strong menu with bold and adventurous flavour combinations. Taking ingredients such as Bottarga as well as Idiazabal cheese, Figs, Bergamont and Chestnuts the combination of both Italian the Basque country flavours focus with some British influence creeping in with the addition of quince. Between two of us we made a brave attempt at trying as much as possible but some real standouts were the octopus with pepperonata and mojo verde aioli which had a sweet smokey flesh that fell apart teamed with an aioli which brought a depth to the flavour of smokey sweetness, the grilled mackerel with samphire, the clams and amalfi lemon was succulent; fish with a crispy char grilled skin and the refreshing Mediterranean combination of the salty samphire with the tangy lemon. Courgette flowers stuffed with goats’ cheese and drizzled with honey came unsuspectingly battered but were a welcome vegetable addition to the table. Quine glazed Iberian pork with celeriac purée, and grilled lamb with roast aubergine and salsa verde were meat highlights. Both meats were cooked to reveal the kitchen’s skill. The combinations of meats and accompaniments were well thought out and looked great on paper, I think we both felt that a bit of honing on glaze and seasoning will come in time to make them both truly wonderful dishes. I have already started to pick out what I want to try next; The sharing plate of pork belly, the parsnip-buttermilk chips with manchego, the Iberico presa with jamon butter, house smoked sherry cask anchovies… the list goes on. So welcoming is the atmosphere and the staff that it was three hours before we left our warm haven. Our wine was perfectly chosen for us by the sommelier, an Italian light Groppello grape, you are not rushed while you can take your time to enjoy your surroundings, a bit of a luxury in London. Get a cocktail. The Negroni and the Sazerac are two of the best I have tasted in London. Like the food they are warm, smokey and leave you wanting much more. Food 3/5  Relight my fire 4/5