Ember Yard: Restaurant review - the team behind Salt Yard, Opera Tavern and Dehesa is back with more indulgent fare

 

Modern London is a city in turbulence, a cosmopolitan cauldron in which more things change than stay the same, where all the world comes to throw a tantrum, get rich through property and complain about schools. Its restaurant scene has generally kept up.

For the global rich who buy houses in Zone 1 that they won't live in, there has been an explosion of appalling establishments, charging through the nose for terrible food. But coming through the middle, for members of what I call the ideas class, there are places such as Ember Yard.

This, the fourth restaurant from the Salt Yard group, is the very emblem of the capital's ever-burgeoning food scene. Indulgent, greasy, central, affluent, warm, loud, more hit than miss, and boasting Spanish and Italian influences – it is exactly what you would expect from the people who gave us Salt Yard, Opera Tavern and Dehesa (of which the second is best). I needed a safe choice because Charlie and I have come here with Lisa Markwell and Mr M, a doubly terrifying experience because, first, as the editor of the Independent on Sunday, she is my boss, and, second, she knows infinitely more about food than I do, as regular readers worked out long ago.

There are large plates to share, bar snacks, charcuterie, cheese and tapas split into five fish, five meat and seven vegetables dishes. We basically order the lot. From the bar snacks, the smoked chorizo skewer (£2.50) beautifully conjoins three chunks of pig with a smooth, silky, slightly sweet saffron. The padron peppers (£4.25) are similarly sweet and spicy, and the grilled flatbread with honey, thyme and smoked butter (£2.95) has a charcoal flavour without being properly burnt, like much of the stuff here.

The fish ranges from £6.25 for a smoked-bream carpaccio to £11 for grilled new Caledonian prawns. Two excellent choices come in the mid-range: succulent cuttlefish with roast pumpkin, n'duja (spicy, spreadable sausage) and pungent wild oregano (£7.25) and octopus with pepperonata (£8.25). But the meat selection is better still.

Here we have grilled Iberico presa (the cut between the top of the shoulder and the loin) with whipped Jamon butter (£8.75), and a fabulous quince-glazed Iberico pork with a rich, autumnal celeriac purée (£6.25). It's the messiest dish that I like best: a smoked beef burger with Idiazabal (a cheese from sheep's milk) and chorizo ketchup (£7). The ketchup I could take or leave, but the chalky goodness of the melted cheese over tender, smoky beef is a special taste that will stay with you long after it hits your gut.

A salad of grilled Williams pears with fresh chestnuts and orange dressing (£6.25) is heavily over-dressed, light on chestnuts, and terrible value. But the courgette flowers stuffed with goat's cheese and drizzled with honey (£7.95), and the parsnip-buttermilk chips with manchego and then more honey (£5.50) are both archetypal of this chain of restaurants: slightly imaginative, not particularly delicate, good value and sloppily delicious.

The same is often said of Ben Tish, the chef-director behind them, who pops along to say hello, and quickly justifies his nickname – Tish the Dish – in a manner that has Mr M and I reaching for the (pretty good) cocktail list, as well as taking up his recommendations of tiramisu with lemon ice-cream. He admits to being both tired and exhilarated, what with launching a restaurant in frantic December, but strikes me as being in the early stages of building an empire, with four restaurants that can now expect to be busy throughout the year.

This one has a rather unique vibe about it. It is dim rather than dark, has a copper-green tint, and is patrolled by young, eager staff with Spanish accents. The tables, in fashionable distressed wood, are tightly packed upstairs, but downstairs there is a bar which is less frenetic and more spacious. A few weeks after launch, there is the unmistakable buzz of a new opening; and though it's not yet scaled the culinary heights of its three siblings, Ember Yard gives every indication of being a pleasing fixture for years to come. In a city where so little is constant, that is something Londoners should take heart from.

8/10

Ember Yard, 60-61 Berwick Street, London W1, tel: 020 7439 8057. £80 for two, with wine

Four more things I've been eating this week

Tortilla crisps

The Sainsbury's Basics range is unimprovable: you get a whole moreish bag for about 20p. Tremendous.

M&S sushi

Almost the only food product where I think Marks & Sparks comes up short. Their sushi is often dry and flavourless.

Chocolate Hobnobs

After scientific trials lasting for years, I have concluded that these really are the best taste known to man.

Oyster Bay

I used to be obsessed with the citrus flavour of Sauvignons from Marlborough in New Zealand; now they seem sweet going on sickly.

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Junior Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?