Ember Yard

Ember Yard isn’t a yard or even an outside space. But the name evokes a dusty, faraway location with exotic overtones. It’s a secret gem in Soho, immediately atmospheric, drawing you into its dimly lit, romantic ambience. I went with a painter who looks at things more carefully. She liked the earthy, rustic décor, low hanging lights and bold ochre colour scheme. The charming French manageress seated us in the window and recommended a quixotic wine from Puglia – Come d’Incanto – white and yet made from a red grape. The slight sherry bouquet and gooseberry taste were the perfect accompaniment to tapas. The focus here is on smoking and cooking with fire, so the dishes carry a faint whiff of smoke, adding to their dimension. It’s one of those breezy, effervescent places where the evening just flows. The diverse menu makes it easy for pescatarians like me, or vegetarians, and dishes arrive scattergun fashion so you’re constantly rearranging the space, ordering more, mixing tastes, filling up your glass, and it’s all so flavoursome and delicious, smoky and fragrant, that it’s very difficult to call a halt. I loved the chargrilled salmon with caramelised cauliflower; the painter was partial to hot smoked butternut squash with ricotta, lemon and grape jam. And then there were the six other dishes – including caramelised pears with hazelnut crumble, yoghurt and star anise for dessert. Full of happy people enjoying their dinner, Ember Yard is the kind of place to which you want to return again and again. Ember Yard and sister restaurant Dehesa, also in Soho, have launched weekend breakfast menus with dishes including grilled sardines on toast with tomato and fresh basil, and avocado and grilled spring onions on flatbread with poached egg.