Ember Yard Soho is Timeout’s number two destination restaurant at the moment. Chiltern Firehouse is their top-of-the-pops. Leaving the reservation arrangements to the last minute meant THEGAYUK had more chance of interviewing Banksy than securing a table a Chiltern. Ember Yard could squeeze, literally, a table for two in at 9.45pm. Leaving plenty of time for pre-dinner sharpeners.
A busy gentleman greeted us with beaming pearly whites and led us to the table. It’s a good job neither party was of a large persuasion. We were wedged into a corner table, thus making lav trips a bit like putting ya fave skinnies on after they’ve been washed.
Our waitress Gabriella appeared at all the appropriate moments, guided us through the menu and suggested all our tapas. Gabriella had an air of landlady about her, she was natural and knowledgeable.
The venue has a cosy, contemporary loft-apartment feel with dark wooden floors, pillars, beams and grey walls. There’s a mixture of seating, from high stalls and counters to tables, chairs and banquettes. All warmly lit by bulbous exposed light bulbs dangling from pipes on the ceiling.
The place was full of diners that could no doubt walk, or jump in a rickshaw home.
We went straight in with vino and opted for the Mas Macia Blanc Catalunya 2014. One word in the description pulled us towards this minerally, ripe-apple-enriched number: honeyed. We should have been shooing bees away once the cork was popped.
Ember’s cuisine is inspired by Spanish and Italian chargrill methods of cooking. The menu is broken up into bar snacks, tapas and a couple of larger dishes to share.
Each plate arrived as soon as it was ready.
First up, burrata with chargrilled ciabatta, heritage tomatoes and wild garlic pesto. Gabriella’s favourite. It was like cutting into a chocolate fondant with a melted centre. The mozzarella outer layer hides a buttery smooth core. A great balance of crunch and creaminess all elevated by a right hook from the pesto.
Next to appear, applewood-smoked bream carpaccio with pomegranate, coriander and bottarga. The sea bream was slightly overpowered by the salty fish roe and coriander. Zesty, delicate and enjoyable.
To follow, courgette flower stuffed with goat’s cheese and drizzled with honey. If you’re going to clog your arteries with fried food this is the way to do it. The strong flavour from the cheese lifts the courgette while the honey brings a floral element to the dish. The three amalgamate like a pair of Grenson brogues, a crisp-white Burberry shirt and slim-fit Nudie indigo jeans.
And then, roasted and chargrilled Ibérico pork ribs with quince glaze and celeriac purée. Once we’d tackled the charcoal, fig-like-flavoured crispy shell the meat slid off of the bone. The textures worked. TGI’s should come and take notes.
The last dish, smoked and grilled beef burger with pickled courgette, chilli jam and scamorza. Perfectly formed. The chilli jam, or chelly, left a sweet but fiery undertone.
If you need an excuse not to don ya frilly apron and turn the oven on, Ember’s burrata will suffice. We ordered a second.
Pud came in liquid form.
One glass of Finca Antigua Moscatel. The first sip unravels a silky layer over the tongue, followed by a sweet frill.
And a glass of Lazio Shiraz. A peppery and berry perfumed little tinker. Reminiscent of those cherry-liqueured chocolates you get from M&S at Christmas. But much more palatable.
The bill was a reasonable £106.16. Chiltern Smiltern. We still had enough in the kitty to swing around a pole at The Village, hit the Shadow Lounge and spill into an Uber home.
Reviewed by Thabian Sutherland
60 Berwick Street
Tel: 0207 439 8057
STAR RATING: ★★★★ (explained)
PRICE: £££ (explained)
I’ve lived in the Old Smoke since 1999 with a career in fashion, fitness and events. I discovered the joys of writing beginning of 2014. Since then I’ve been tapping digits to keys. Subjects include food, theatre, exhibitions, London life and other topics that tickle my taste-buds. Other publications include Timeout, Gay Times and So So Gay Magazine.