Ember Yard is the latest (fourth) addition to the Salt Yard chain, which would hate to admit to being called a chain, but as all four branches serve increasingly weak versions of the original’s signature dish (deep-fried courgette flowers stuffed with goat’s cheese and drizzled with honey) they’ve got to own up to some level of cloning. As well as different names, the Salt Yard Group’s venues have different specialities, to further distance themselves from the dreaded chain gang. This one’s is smoked and grilled stuff. Embers, geddit?
The menu here is so tempting that it’s much quicker to work out which dishes you don’t want to order, and how we managed to resist grilled ham with ham butter I’ll never fully know. But dishes that have your tummy rumbling before you even get to your table are all the more disappointing when they don’t meet expectations, and too many of the things we tried at Ember Yard just didn’t really taste of much. Slices of juicy chargrilled lamb were lovely and completely let down by an underseasoned aubergine mush and salsa verde that must have got its green from the world’s first undetectable herb. Similarly, smoked cod was grilled to soft perfection, but its bed of beans didn’t manage anything other than tasting a bit fishy, and had managed to shed all its advertised clams.
Maybe all the excitement over protein plus fire meant that all the vegetables were neglected? Parsnip-buttermilk chips with manchego were just saggy shards of slightly overdone root that had nothing on the chips and cheese we used to serve in the student pub I worked in. That pub also boasted a bit more character than Ember Yard manages; the decor was a bit airport lounge brasserie, and service was friendly but not quite on the ball enough to match the prices. The disappointment of all this has made it sound worse than it was, but given the outing again I’d re-visit Opera Tavern. Also known as Salt Yard II.
60 Berwick Street, W1F 8SU, 0207 439 8057