Where exactly is it? At the tip of Berwick Street, a shopping bag’s hurl – and pleasant respite – from the mania of Oxford Street’s relentless thoroughfare.
OK. So what goes on there? Well, this is part of the Salt Yard family (think the superlative Opera Tavern in Covent Garden) so it’s all about high quality Spanish-Italian small (and a few larger) plates from the wood-fire grill. Having just reopened after a refurb, it’s now a bit darker, a bit sexier – and with new head chef Cristian Parisi at the helm, there’s additional Antipodean culinary flair.
What should I eat? We would advise selecting one or more plates from each of the four prosaically named sections. Our fish and vegetarian dishes arrived first: firm skin-on cured seabass was matched with earthy beetroot and creme fraiche, while spiced roasted cauliflower came cleverly paired with a sticky onion jam and distinctive pistachio puree. A festive pumpkin risotto proved a surprise rectangular shape, with the tang of pickled chestnut and a vivid green pesto to cut through the richness.
Anything I must try? Our next three plates. Essential for carnivores is a delicate skewer of charred chorizo and meltingly tender octopus, each mouthful topped with egg-yolk yellow saffron aioli – but the two last dishes were better still. Rosy iberico presa, its edges carbonised, lay on a generous whorl of ajo blanco, the almond-garlic ratio perfectly balanced. And crimson hunks of sliced venison were not at all overpowered by a mighty fermented black garlic puree, with barbecued broccoli and shards of tempura chucking in some crunch and texture.
Desserts, yes or no? If you have room – and the portions are undeniably petite – yes. We shared a dulce de leche cheesecake unusually flavoured with blackcurrant and carrot caramel. There’s also a cheeseboard to get stuck into – manchego, toma, muffato and more – should you need to drain any more wine. If so, we can recommend the medium-bodied ruby-red Ribera De Duero.
The interior: discuss. Smouldering and dimly-enough lit to fend off the ‘Gram addicts from over-snapping: leather banquettes, smoked mirrors and exposed steel beams.
And what do I drink? Well, the answer is actually where you drink. As well as boasting an ever-changing cocktail list, the new downstairs Ember Bar is a crepuscular delight of flickering candles.
What’s the service like? As invisible as you’d expect from a restaurant group that must be one of the capital’s best.
Do say: ‘Can I take a seat by the open kitchen?’
Don’t say: ‘Is Copita round the corner?’
Main image: PR
Gasholder ate as guests of Ember Yard. For more on our food reviews policy see here