Three Salt Yard Group restaurants down. Two to go.
Ember Yard, London Review
Ember Yard is a tapas restaurant influenced by travels around Spain and Italy and their methods of cooking over charcoal and wood.
Ember Yard was recently replaced as the newest member of Salt Yard Group after Veneta, which opened a few of weeks ago and this visit pushes me over half way to completing the Salt Yard set after visits to Opera Tavern and Salt Yard in the past.
As a huge fan of cooking over charcoal and wood, I was excited to finally get a booking in the diary and make the trip to see if Ember Yard could live up to my expectations.
The restaurant is set over two floors, with plenty of comfortable seating and an open kitchen and counter area on the ground floor. Head downstairs and you’ll find another dining space with a more relaxed bar. The focal point of the kitchen is a custom built, Basque-style grill burning sustainable, single species charcoal and wood from Kent.
Antonia and I have had plenty of great meals at tapas restaurants over the years, and this style of dining suits our greedy large appetites perfectly. As with all Sat Yard Group restaurants, the menu is split in to various sections, including Charcuterie, Bar Snacks and Tapas, which itself is split in to meat, fish and vegetables.
Two to three dishes per person, with a couple of snacks thrown in is a good guide and we started off perfectly with a Smoked Chorizo Skewer with saffron alioli each (£3.25). As if chorizo wasn’t delicious enough, cooking it over wood added an awesome extra level of flavour, which reminded me of night markets in Malaysia where hawkers barbecue satay on open fires, filling the streets with beautifully intoxicating smoky flavours.
Much of the menu at Ember Yard reads like a list of my favourite things, including Chargrilled Iberico Pork Ribs with quince glaze, squash puree and sage (£10). The ribs were incredibly tender and had taken on plenty of extra flavour from the grill. Maybe a little sweet for my taste, thanks to that quince glaze but delicious nonetheless.
As you may be aware, many of London’s top chefs and restaurants are supporting #CookForSyria this month, which you can read about on the Foodie Brighton blog here.
Salt Yard Group’s dish for this campaign is the Spiced and Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder with Buttermilk dressing, grilled flatbread and fresh herbs (£10). It’s a generous portion and reminded me of the gorgeous Goat Shoulder with red kale & sumac yoghurt pizza from Homeslice. Super lamby lamb, pillowy flatbread and the lovely herbs and dressing all came together a treat.
We went for the Smoked Haddock Croquettes served with roasted garlic aioli and samphire at a very reasonable £4 for two, and loved the rich, creamy filling as well as the crispy coating to these little bites.
The Chargrilled Cornish Mackerel with delica pumpkin, slow-cooked red onions and gremolata (£7.50) was nicely balanced with the strong mackerel flavours pairing with the mellow wedges of charred, roast pumpkin and the herby, punchy gremolata.
I can’t get enough of octopus these days, so the Steamed and Chargrilled Octopus with manteca potatoes and paprika aioli (£9.50) was a must. The pieces of octopus were perfectly cooked, (I could have scoffed several more legs) but I felt the dish had too many uninspiring potatoes beneath it, and not enough aioli to perk them up.
We had the Wood Roasted Cauliflower with rose harissa and honey (£7), which is great value as you get a whole cauli! Again, the cooking was spot on with texture and bite on the inside and buckets of deep flavour from the harissa and honey crust on the outside.
I can’t remember the last time Antonia and I didn’t finish a dish. It may have never happened, but the Caramelised Jerusalem Artichokes with kale, chestnuts and pickled mustard seeds (£7) missed the mark for both of us. Although it looked pretty, the flavours didn’t excite us at all and as it arrived late on, we were too stuffed to force ourselves to finish it.
Ember Yard, like all the Salt Yard Group ventures I’ve visited is a safe bet, and I found the menu good value for money. The dining area is very comfortable and spaced out enough that you barely notice the tables around you.
Unlike some tapas restaurants, the portions are generous so you definitely won’t be leaving hungry. Service was efficient and informative and although aspects of some dishes didn’t push all my buttons, there was plenty to come back for as well as more to try.
|Chorizo Skewer x 2||£3.25 each|
|Iberico Pork Ribs||£10.00|