With my recent foodie road trip from Bilbao to Jerez I’ve fallen more and more in love with Spanish cuisine and as I write this I’ll have been back to the countryside in Valladolid to sample even more. But Londoners don’t have to go all the way to Spain for great tapas, just head to Ember Yard in Soho.
The fourth restaurant in the highly successful Salt Yard group, the owners travelled through Spain and Italy and fell in love with the methods cooking over charcoal and wood. Here at Ember Yard smoking is a big deal too and as soon as you enter into the restaurant’s rustic wooden interior that smokey smell fills your nostrils emanating from an open kitchen.
Wooden beams, hanging lights and naked walls, it’s casual but still elegant. Perfect for a lunch date for Spanish food-loving Mr S and I.
Some Soho restaurants are seriously cramped with table as close together as possible, leaving you butting elbows with your neighbour. But not here – there’s plenty of space, extending to a downstairs bar too – a seriously sexy space with a beautifully finished wooden bar.
Back upstairs our waitress highly recommended that we start with cocktails as they are Ember themed too.
Mr S opted for the Smoked Negroni which created by bartender Francesco and actually came second in Soho’s Negroni Championship. Mr S could see why – he loved the depth of flavour in his cocktail.
My Il Profumo di Maria containing vodka, violets, elderflower, prosecco, cherry smoke was not only the prettiest cocktail I’d ever had it also had a beautiful aroma. Served in a jar-like glass smoke was released as we lifted the lid perfuming the air around us, the flavour was excellent too, not overly sweet and very refreshing.
I first totally fell in love with Padron peppers on a family holiday to Mallorca. It was my mother-in-law that introduced them to me and I’ve been a addicted ever since! At Ember Yard they are charred to absolute perfection and crystals of salt liberally sprinkled on enhances the flavour.
Chorizo is probably one of my most loved Spanish snacks and a small skewer was just right for tasting the smoked sausage accompanied by saffron aioli.
If you go to Ember Yard you simply must get the bread – trust me and you will thank me. The secret ingredient is honey – which is actually very subtle in the dish – and a not-so-secret lashing of smoked butter and thyme. I tried to save some for our main tapas dishes but it was actually impossible.
We skipped the charcuterie section and studied the tapas section which is divided into fish, meat and vegetables all cooked on the Basque-style grill. At Ember Yard the chefs only use single species charcoal and wood for all their co0king and they currently have the hots for oak and silver birch charcoal.
We both loved asparagus and it was perfectly charred and al dente here, draped with guanciale for extra saltiness and toped with chopped egg. Dollops of wild garlic aioli provide an extra layer of flavour but they’re not really needed as the asparagus is excellent alone.
Charred tenderstem broccoli is cooked simply and beautifully and covered in a light tomato and basil dressing.
Regulars at Salt Yard Group restaurants will have probably already tried Executive Chef Ben Tish’s signature courgette flower but this was my first time. Very lightly coated in batter and stuffed with Monte Enebro goat’s cheese and with a drizzle of honey – it’s a dream if you’re a honey lover like Mr S but sadly not for me personally.
The sea bass is a great lighter choice among more rich dishes and I loved the cured fish in paprika with a dash of chive oil, heady smoked tomatoes and the delicious addition of deep fried anchovies.
My favourite dish of the day (after THAT bread of course) was baby squid with black rice and lemon and chilli. It turned my mouth black but it was worth it for that deliciously creamy rice and perfect seafood.
Mr S wanted to order every meat dish on the menu but held back and opted for roasted Welsh lamb cooked just pink and served with grilled courgette and lemon ricotta.
With meat falling off the bone, the chargrilled Iberico pork ribs served with quince glaze and rhubarb puree were Mr Silver’s dish of the day.
With food this good we couldn’t say no to dessert and the pannacotta had the perfect wobble, served with strawberries and a refreshing sorbet.
But the chocolate mousse really got my vote, light as air and served with smoked almonds and sable biscuit with a drizzle of olive oil, it reminded me of a dessert I’d had during my recent trip to Spain.
A huge lover of Spanish food, Ember Yard got a big fat tick from Mr S, and a huge nod of appreciation from me. It’s the best Spanish restaurant that I’ve tried so far in London.
PIN FOR LATER:
60 Berwick Street
0207 439 8057
We were guests of Ember Yard and our lunch was complimentary