Back with a fresh design, a contemporary basement bar and a brand new head chef at the helm, Ember Yard returns to Soho’s Berwick Street with an exciting relaunch menu to delight the tapas-lovers among us. Brought to life by the Salt Yard Group of Spanish-Italian restaurants, here you’ll find a scrumptious melding of these two ever-popular cuisines – think Ibérico presa alongside creamy burrata – and a fine selection of inspired drinks to accompany your fire-cooked fare.
With signature dishes grilled over charcoal, Ember Yard spoils meat and fish eaters for choice, but that’s not to say that vegetarians will be left with a humble bowl of bravas. Arguably some of the most appealing on the menu, the plant-based dishes are far from an afterthought. With a number of standout plates designed for sharing, we say invite your friends along and enjoy as many as you can.
With 80 covers split over two floors, Ember Yard’s a buzzing spot of clanking wine glasses and mouth-watering aromas. Its newly revamped interiors are dark and intimate, coming into their own just in time for the evening crowd. Featuring plenty of exposed steel and vintage incandescent lighting, lovers of the ultra-urban industrial vibe will feel right at home. But there’s a hint of Spanish farmhouse-meets-tapas bar too. You’ll spot it in the comfy leather banquettes, the textured wood tables and the raised sharing counters with their cocktail seating. It’s all very stylish and informal.
Attracting a wine-sipping, meat and fish-eating crowd of put-together mid-thirty somethings, Ember Yard makes a sophisticated after-work hangout for one-to-one catchups, date nights and intimate gatherings. With speedy service, it’s great for a quick but quality pre-theatre bite too. Diners seem to be in-the-know Londoners – many of whom are apparently women – in search of superior tapas served up in a chic setting. Despite its Soho location, be assured you won’t find swathes of shopping-laden tourists here.
With newly revamped décor comes a newly revamped menu of unfussy tapas and larger sharing plates smoked and cooked over a fire as you might find in Spain’s País Vasco. Among the smaller bites, you’ll spot a few of your favourites, think patatas bravas, padron peppers and of course a well-curated selection of Spanish and Italian charcuterie and regional cheeses. But with limited waist space, you might wish to pass them up for some of Ember Yard’s more unique epicurean creations.
We suggest diving in with the warm and fluffy thyme flatbread, straight off the chargrill and generously lavished with smoked butter (£4.50). Follow that with a couple of melt-in-the-mouth jamón, leek and manchego croquetas (£6.50) and you’ll be off to a flying start.
As for larger plates, Ember Yard’s specialities are expertly cooked over natural charcoal on the Josper grill – and they’re far from your standard barbecue fare. Among the standouts are the sweet and spicy membrillo-glazed pork ribs with spring onion, hazelnuts and smoked chilli jam (£20) and the succulent whole seabream with classic Basque vinaigrette (£28). For dishes that don’t involve sticky fingers or faff, you’ll almost certainly be tempted by the venison fillet with fermented black garlic puree and broccoli (£14) and the chorizo-octopus skewer (£13) whose saffron aioli-topped morsels will be the quickest bites to disappear from the table.
Vegetarians will also be pleased to find a number of delectable dishes to their taste, many of which would delight the palates of even the most carnivorous of diners too. Perhaps the highlights of an entire meal, our favourites include the warming pumpkin risotto with pickled chestnut and seed pesto (£8.75) and the spiced roasted cauliflower with pistachio puree and onion jam (£9). Unsurprisingly, you might not be left with much space for a dulce de leche cheesecake (£7). Sigh.
Traditionally served as complimentary bites to accompany an alcoholic drink, it would be wrong to enjoy your tapas at Ember Yard without a tipple of some kind. If you like to keep it classic with vino, there’s a refined list of Spanish and Italian whites and reds to choose from. Otherwise, try out a signature cocktail or two, mixed up in the restaurant’s new basement bar. The Vintage Negroni with smoked ice makes a fine aperitif while the Casablanca, blending Cointreau, Moscato and spiced marmalade, makes for the perfect post-tapas sugar-rush.
In a nutshell
Ember Yard is the perfect pick for hungry gourmands who’d much rather taste their way through an entire menu than restrict themselves to a single main. Conveniently located in the heart of Soho, it’s on neutral central London turf making it a solid choice for those overdue catchups, or equally a late-night bite or drink. Expect to spend in the region of £40pp and leave suitably satisfied.