Ember Yard in Soho: Carefully crafted, seriously fulfilling tapas
Bites bursting with flavour: Ember Yard promises and delivers a tasty, cosy dining experience at the heart of pulsing Soho. Like sister restaurant Opera Tavern, this venture from the Salt Yard Group has recently been under renovation, and has now reopened its doors to gourmands, explorers and night-out regulars.
The menu presents a smooth blend of Spanish and Italian cuisines. This means the dishes are fashioned in tapas style, while experimenting with combinations incorporating some of the bold notes of both countries – though more leaning towards the Basque region.
Our dinner comprised a complete tasting of head chef Christian Parisi’s creations. Beginning with the “nibbles to share”, our cravings for great cheese were quickly satisfied by a generous portion of burrata on a bed of smokey semi-dried tomatoes. To follow, the goat’s cheese inside the stuffed courgette flower deliciously contrasted with the blossom honey covering the vegetable. The chargrilled flatbread, unfortunately, didn’t keep up with the other starters: its overly buttery top let the dish down.
The drinks that accompanied our meal were two refreshing cocktails. The Amaretto Sour reached a perfect balance between citrusy notes and the sweetness of the Amaretto, with egg whites finishing the glass. For the classics lovers, the Old Fashioned kept it simple – maintaining a certain character, though, with a Woodford Reserve bourbon.
One of the most moreish offerings was the Smoked Haddock Croquetas: the plate successfully passed our test, its melted filling and slightly crispy cover proving a delicious combination. It was a bit more difficult to work out the intent behind the Tomato and Wine-Braised Squid with Cannellini Beans, ‘Nduja and Migas. The main was hearty, with a nice spicy kick, but it felt as though the ingredients were brought together a bit casually, without serious thought.
Maintaining an ideal al dente texture, the pumpkin risotto took us by surprise for its softness and nutty taste, which was happily paired with dashes of seed pesto. Once again, though, one of our favourites was a quite straightforward dish. Landing on our table directly from the wood-fired grill upstairs, the Octopus and Chorizo Skewer delivered a succulent sequence of the two elements, the smoked flavour tempered by saffron aioli.
At this point in the dinner, the finocchiona – from the restaurant’s nice selection of charcuterie – provided a dainty pause in between the hot dishes.
The Iberico Presa was served modestly with Ajo Blanco, leaving the juicy meat and its tender texture to gratify the diner’s palate. Cooked perfectly medium-rare, it was a stroke of pure pleasure.
A more elaborate presentation went into the Marinated Chicken Thighs, which stood on a celeriac base, with spoonfuls of truffle and date mascarpone. The resulting combination was intriguing, playing with the different textures and consistencies. We relished the authentic take of the Patatas Bravas: the potatoes were fleshy and firm in their pyramidal shape, with dabs of aioli and ketchup.
We finished with the creamiest of desserts. The thickness of the Dulce de Leche Cheesecake found a matching partner in the biscuit crumb, while the carrot caramel mildly garnished without adding to the pudding sugar excess.
Ember Yard offers tasteful contemporary decor, a buzzing atmosphere (maybe a bit too loud for the intimate setting) and authentic Spanish tapas. Suitable for a low-key dinner and ideal for foodies who want to stop by for a carefully crafted tasting menu, this restaurant is the place to indulge in some seriously fulfilling dishes.
★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Photos: Maria Barrios
To book a table at Ember Yard, 60 Berwick Street London W1F 8SU, call 020 7439 8057 or visit their website here.