To start with, I love tapas … for many reasons, but especially because due to the portion sizes, you can have a lot of dishes. This also lends itself to hearty solo dining experiences. With that in mind, I decided on Ember Yard for my next solo excursion. Ember Yard is one of the restaurants from the Salt Yard group (Salt Yard, Dehesa, Opera Tavern, & Veneta) and it’s focused on Spanish and Italian inspired tapas cooked over charcoal and wood.
Ember Yard is in the heart of Soho, somewhat equidistant from Oxford Circus station and Tottenham Court road station. I arrived at 5:30PM, and although the restaurant was fairly empty the staff was on fine form. The hostess handed me to my very cheery waitress, who led me to my table in the corner of the cosy room, opposite the open plan kitchen. The restaurant’s décor reminded me of an elegant inn with wood furnishings and vintage light fixtures.
What I ordered
I was handed the menu, and although I had looked at the menu exhaustively online, I took my time to order. I decided on the Chargrilled Ibérico Presa with Whipped Jamon Butter, the Chargrilled Chicken Thighs, and the Smoked and Grilled Cornish Cod with Braised Fennel and Chilli. My waitress suggested Grilled Chistorra with Peperonata, Chickpea Dressing, and Parsley … and that was that.
Review of the food
The Smoked Cod arrived first, and it looked gorgeous. It was fresh and well cooked, but the flavour was rather too sharp for me and I wasn’t a fan of the braised fennel. The chistorra – cured sausages – was amazing. It had the perfect amount of spice. And the peperonata and chickpea dressing was the perfect compliment to the sausages.
The chargrilled chicken thighs were grilled to perfection, seasoned well, not spicy though, but fully flavoured. It’s seemingly different than the chicken thigh dish on the online menu, because this came with spring onions, not the polenta, cavolo nero and wild mushrooms stated in the online menu. Last to arrive was the chargrilled presa, which was damn delicious. Lightly seasoned and grilled, although still a tad pink when served, and cut into bite size pieces that combine flawlessly with the rich jamon butter.
So far so very good, but I was still hungry. I wanted to have a look at the menu to pick another dish, but the waitress offered me the dessert menu and I decided to give that a glance. I hadn’t even bothered looking at the dessert menu online because I wasn’t expecting to be interested by any of the choices, but, to my surprise, there were at least three intriguing choices. Ultimately, I decided on the Buttermilk Cake with Apple, Rosemary Caramel and Mascarpone Ice Cream. It was a well-balanced dessert, the right amount of sweetness in both the cake and the mascarpone ice cream, and together they were indulgent. I ignored the pieces of apples … they weren’t screaming, “eat me!”; looked more like decoration lol.
Ember Yard was a really good dining experience. I’ll certainly go again, although not with Shiima, because it’s a rather pork and fish intensive menu lol. The food is top notch, the service professional but friendly, and the décor is cosy, which is perfect for a date. Oddly, most of the other diners skewed much older – middle aged and up. Regardless, I recommend for large groups, foodies, special occasions, and dates (like I said earlier). There are also a couple tables outside, for those that enjoy that; and I hear there are more seats and a cool bar downstairs, but I can’t personally vouch for that because I didn’t go downstairs.
Cuisine: Spanish & Italian tapas
Dress Code: Casual
Star Dish: Grilled Chistorra with Peperonata, Chickpea Dressing and Parsley
Price: £35 (excluding alcohol)
Rating: 4.8 out of 5