Ember Yard, Berwick Street ★★★★
Top-notch Tapas: hardly, however, cut-price tapas.
Ember Yard on Berwick Street, within eyeshot of Bond Street, was the perfect location for a Monday evening dinner.
Winner of the ‘Time Out London 2nd best restaurant 2014’ award was, unwittingly, something we were not aware of when we walked into the busy, rustic dining room.
We were feasibly fortunate to get a table in this lively Charcuterie and indeed stood nervously for a moment as the maître d’ flicked through the numerous pages on his clipboard. He found us a table downstairs.
The spacious upstairs dining room, with wooden tables under brass pendant lights, looks onto an open kitchen. Downstairs the slick bar leads through to a further dining room; it too fitted with russet chairs and individual contemporary art. The décor grabs you by the lapel from a pavement off Bond Street and crashes you violently on the sidewalk in Sant Antoni. Current, stylish and trendy: befitting those seeking high-end and yet relaxed dining by Tottenham Court Road.
And so we move on to the Tapas and the Italian and Spanish Charcuterie. It truly is impressive… All foodstuffs were decent: specific dishes were fantastic.
The major advantage to a dinner of Tapas comes, of course, by way of sharing. Choose not one starter and main; rather, choose many. The drawback arises once a single tidbit is the favoured by all those with a fork. And there is always, valued bloglover, one. There will forever be one revered plate with a magnetism that nobody is equipped to forsake.
This time it was courgette flowers stuffed with goats’ cheese and drizzled with honey (£4.50 each). They were astounding. Creamy cheese filling a delicate bud held by a firm yet tender stem; all skillfully coated with a light, crispy tempura and carefully seasoned with the sweet rich honey. It is a must for anybody visiting. When you go here, and you will because you must: do not forget, for heavens’ sake, to order the courgette flowers. Only a Spanish Escoffier could invent it. Only a simpleton would purposely miss it.
The waitress had suggested we choose two or three dishes each. The courgettes were just one. We also went for Roasted and Chargrilled Ibérico Pork Ribs with Quince Glaze and Celeriac Purée (£8.50), Spiced and Grilled Free Range Chicken Wings with Romesco (£6.50) and Parsnip-Buttermilk Chips with Manchego (£6).
The ribs, I must divulge, was the item for which I was most impatient. They barely let me down – left clean to the bone with the sauce pathetically scraped off the slate board. The parsnip chips were filling and sweet; they were not finished but only by way of guilt (nobody wants to look a stuffer) . The chicken was not on par with the rest but absolutely not poor. Unmoving on this table of talent were those courgettes.
Pudding was unremarkable, though cleverly constructed and quickly gone. You go here for the tapas. And the cheese. Go here for the cheeseboard (there are three to choose from). Our elected board was the Spanish option: the Torta de Barros (Ewes’ Milk, Extremadura) our favourite: it strikes a perfect balance between sweet and salt – creamy but still with structure.
This is terrific Tapas. It is modern, casual and a polished take on classic dip-in dining. We had a much-desired casual night in a restaurant that I wish hadn’t got it’s award: this place should be kept a secret (he says sticking his review on the social platter)– go, enjoy, but don’t tell too many: it’s crowded enough as it is!
Our friendly waitress, a charming atmosphere, coupled with the thoughtfully designed, cleverly executed menu created a ‘must-go-back-here’ feeling.
The price: well, it wasn’t cheap; but then it is off Bond Street and it’s got customers queuing on a Tuesday (feasibly due to Time Out recognition). The quality was worth the extra few quid and I’d be more than happy to perch at the downstairs bar with a glass of red and a single dish.
£46 for two: £74 with a bottle. Call that £85; the waitress deserved a tenner.