Ember Yard – Review (Soho) My first and most recent visits

The Ember Yard is the fourth instalment from the Salt Yard Group and my second voyage in conquering all of their restaurants after staying loyal to the Opera Tavern . (Oh the duplicity kills me!). They opened on the 2nd of December 2013 in the heart of Soho focussing on smoking and grilling seasonal Spanish & Italian ingredients. The restaurant feel is art nouveau and is spread across two floors with a classy bar in the basement for cocktails and dining too. I’ve included a review of my first and most recent visit to hopefully give you guys a feel of the place.

My first visit in March 2014.

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The menu format is similar to Opera Tavern’s with sections for bar snacks, charcuterie and plates to share etc. And just for the record sharing is the way forward as you’ll get to taste everything – this is how the menu has been designed too.

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Padron peppers £4.25 are the thing to order at the beginning. I couldn’t imagine the meal without them.

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Smoked chorizo skewers with smoked saffron aioli £2.50 each.

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Crispy chipirones, capers and sage, aioli £3.50. A tad on the greasy side with super moreish.

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Ibérico pork fat chips with chorizo ketchup £4.50. If you want to know what magnificent chips are then look no further. They’re rich and crisp, dusted with the fat its been fried with and once dipped into that smoky yet acidic ketchup it will do a dance in your mouth.

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Grilled flat bread with honey, thyme and smoked butter £3.25. I was expecting more flavour with the honey and other ingredients but the impact wasn’t there with this one.

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Steamed and chargrilled octopus with pepperonata with mojo verdi aioli £9. The mild brininess of the meaty octopus is all elevated by the chargrilling and that pepperonata brings on the sweet acidity.

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Oak smoked and chargrilled Shetland cod with braised cannelini beans, samphire and clams £7.25. Cod is a meaty fish with a subtle flavour, here though it’s taken on lots of depth from the smoking and extra body from the beans. It was a sure-fire winner.

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Jamón Ibérico di Bellota, aged for 5 years, Castro y Gonzáles, Castilla-Leon £15. I didn’t get the tongue melting buttery qualities from this one but it still had good nutty flavour – not the best I’ve had but not shabby at all.

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Oak smoked Basque beef burger with Idiazabal (sheep’s cheese from Spain) and chorizo ketchup £6.50. Granted, comparing (sometimes) isn’t a good thing but you can’t help but to do so with these against Opera Tavern’s Iberico burgers which win hands down if there was ever a burger war.

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Parsnip-buttermilk chips with manchego £5.75. These vegetables deserve a special mention as it had everyone consumed by how good it tasted. The cheese created a beautiful gooey-sheen on the perfectly seasoned crispy parsnips. We loved eating it and believed it loved to be eaten by us too.

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Seasonal Italian greens with chilli £5.25. Cavolo Nero so were told it’s cooked to a perfect tenderness.

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Hot smoked Gloucester Old Spot pork belly with Basque cider, smoked apple and oregano £23.20. It came with a beautiful glazed exterior, caramelised on edges and served on a chopping board with it’s basting juices. As it was sliced there was the perfect interplay of fat against protein, just the right balance to keep things tender and juicy. The little smoked apple was essential in cutting through the richness.

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It came and we conquered.

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Date, walnut and quince cake with smoked muscavado ice cream £5.95. The cake warm from the oven and slightly sticky in consistency, the caramel charged ice cream made it all the more decadent too. This was a brilliant desert.

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Bitter chocolate ganache with salted caramel ice cream £6.25. It came in its own little iron ramekin and boy was it delicious.

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And the damage..

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My most recent visit July 2016 – dining bar the bar in the basement. 

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Spanish Charcuterie Selection – Chorizo Ibérico (Salamanca), Salchichón Ibérico de Bellota (Salamanca), Lomo Doblado (Extremadura) £12.

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Padrón Peppers £5.50.

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Chargrilled Mahon with Rhubarb and Orange £6. Mahon, which is named after the port of Mahon on the Minorca island is a cow’s milk cheese. I’m generally not a fan of cheese at all but I’ll put this one in the ‘exceptions’ pile as it was sweet and aromatic. In some parts sticky just like how a fruit cake would be. It was a winner when scooped with the sweet cracker and rhubarb-orange condiment.

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Steamed and chargrilled octopus with peas, smoked tomato and wild garlic £9.50. Acidity in the tomato, natural sweetness in the peas all working well with the meaty octopus. There just wasn’t enough of it!

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Ibérico Pork Fat Chips with Chorizo Ketchup £4.50 – don’t come here without ordering these!

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Char grilled beef flat iron, spiced aubergine, borlotti beans and smoked yogurt £9.50. It came with a wonderful smoky roasted meat flavour, the beans gave it the extra body as did the aubergine. The dish was empty after.

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We left this pudding this time and went straight for the Scotch. The Glenmorangie (£10) seemed like the obvious choice, between the Nectar D’Or or Lasanta. I couldn’t decided so the bartender decided to give me a taster of both. The Lasanta got the roll of the dice for it’s sherry finish and viscous mouth feel.

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The verdict:

When did I go? July 2016
The damage: Expect to pay £50-£65 per head with drinks.
The good: The Ember Yard’s USP is smoking and grilling quality ingredients sourced from all over Italy and Spain with matching wines to boot. It looks brilliant inside and practically all the dishes have a rumour of smokiness. I can definitely see this one mingling with the dizzying array of tapas restaurants in Soho.
The bad: The Basque burger isn’t a patch on Opera Tavern’s Iberico burger which I can eat by the dozen.
Rating: 3.5/5
Address: 60 Berwick Street, London W1F 8SU
Closest tube: Tottenham Court Road
Phone: 02074398057
http://www.saltyardgroup.co.uk/ember-yard/

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