60 Berwick St, Soho, London
We arrived … on a busy Friday evening, having stopped for a quick cocktail aperitif around the corner beforehand. That's the beauty of Soho, you can't move for great bars and restaurants, just teasing you to come and try them out. We had a booking - but had only called ahead that morning. They take walk-ins as well and have a second dining room hidden downstairs (but if you're booking ahead, request a table upstairs where you can keep an eye on all the action - both in the kitchen and outside in bustling Soho).
We chose here because … Dave, who has been living in London for 10 years, thinks it's one of the most consistently good and reasonably priced eateries in town. And he's tried everywhere. The menu features Spanish- and Italian-inspired sharing plates, with particular emphasis on dishes cooked over a wood-fired grill. They regularly change the type of wood they use, which changes the flavour of each dish.
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Our first impression was … the small, intimate space is warm and inviting but still relaxed, with a combination of tall tables and stools among lower tables and banquette seating. If you're on the tall tables, you'll bump elbows with fellow diners but it's all very convivial.
We started with … octopus carpaccio, along with a side of padron peppers. If you've never tried these cheeky roast peppers, you must. Every bite is a game of chance - some peppers are sweet, some bitter and some fiery hot and you won't know which until you bite. Sprinkled in salt and cooked on a wood-smoked grill, they are delicious. As was the octopus - and everything that followed.
The highlight was … everything we ate was exceptional. But the glazed chorizo, served with panizze (a kind of chickpea polenta) and apple puree was the highlight. Our charming waiter also recommended the duck, which was also cooked over the wood-fired grill and smokily delectable.
Dessert was … essential. We shared a blood orange tart with almond and ended the night with a dark chocolate and Pedro Ximenez truffle each, for one final delicious mouthful.
Come here if … You want to eat delicious food and experience charming service without paying a fortune. In London's highly competitive and ever-changing food scene, Ember Yard has proven itself a worthy and reliable friend.
The bill … Was just over £105, including 12.5 per cent service charge. That got us a bottle of good Italian red, six shared plates, one dessert and two truffles. Nom.