Ember Yard is the latest restaurant from the Salt Yard Group (they own Dehesa, Opera Tavern and Salt Yard). It resides in Berwick Street but in the less buzzy bit at the opposite end of the market.
We were seated in the ground floor dining room which had quite a cold and sterile feel to it. The lack of any soft furnishings meant that when it got busy the place was really loud and echoey. There’s also a basement dining room and bar which looked really lovely and a lot more cosy.
We started things off with some bar snacks. The Ibérico pork fat chips with chorizo ketchup (£4.50) were soggy, under seasoned and greasy. I couldn’t detect any chorizo flavour in the ketchup either, just that of tomato purée. The padron peppers (£4.25) were more satisfying as they were generously seasoned.
The courgette flowers stuffed with goats’ cheese and drizzled with honey (£7.95) presented a pleasant contrast between tangy and sweet but the flower itself, where all the flavour was taking place, seemed far too small – there was more courgette than flower.
Quince glazed Ibérico pork ribs and celeriac purée (£6.50) was cracking. Even though the purée was grainy and flavourless it didn’t matter; the meat was incredible and cooked masterfully.
The thick slices of roasted aubergine under the grilled salt marsh lamb (£8.25) were like warm, under seasoned slugs; the texture was slimy and off putting. The chunky chops above it however were really delicious and the fat was crisp and full of flavour.
Grilled Ibérico presa with whipped jamón butter (£8.75) would have been faultless if it hadn’t been luke warm when it arrived; it was cold within seconds. The chunks of pork cooked medium rare were brilliantly tender and the rich porky butter was the perfect companion for it. The pork had an intense flavour which was heavenly.
The octopus with pepperonata and mojo verde alioli (£8.25) was pleasant but not outstanding. The octopus was cooked well but lacked flavour; the dollop of green stuff brought nothing to the table.
The grilled Cornish mackerel with samphire, clams and amalfi lemon (£6.50) was attractive to look at but the fish was so overcooked I could barely finish it. It reminded me of packet mackerel you get from Tesco which is always so dry.
The best thing we ate all evening was the parsnip-buttermilk chips with Manchego (£5.50). There was a faint whiff of truffle in there which tasted great along with the bits of partially melted cheese atop the crisp parsnip chips drizzled with honey – really addictive stuff.
Desserts were quite disappointing; the tiramisu with mascarpone and lemon ice cream (£5.95) lacked flavour. I wanted big and bold – instead it was weak and creamy. The lemon was too subtle. The donuts, quince jam and muscavado custard (£4.50) were heavy and doughy inside. The jam and custard dips were at least flavourful and enjoyable.
Our meal at Ember Yard wasn’t a disaster, but at those prices (our bill easily racked up when we threw in a bottle of plonk) I had hoped for a lot less faults. It’s practically a carbon copy of Salt Yard and they seem to have adopted the same mistakes with the food. I don’t regret going but it’s not somewhere I’ll be making a return visit to, let’s put it like that.