Writing this blog post was actually quite difficult, and not only because it’s the weekend and I’m slightly fuzzy headed from last night. Ember Yard is one of my favourite places in the whole wide world. My internal monologue while I’m there goes something like ‘OMFG OMFG EVERYTHING IS SO DELICIOUS I NEED THE WHOLE MENU IN MY FACE THIS WINE IS PERFECT OMFG JAMON OMFG CHEESE WHY CAN’T I FIT MORE IN MY TUMMY WHY GOD, WHY???’
So yeah, turning that into words and sentences that make sense and convey in a coherent way how wonderful this restaurant is could be a challenge. Bear with me, Readers. And if I make a complete hash of it then, yunno, I imagine you get the gist from the above to be honest.
First things first…
Pre-dinner cocktails! The cocktail menu at Ember Yard is really impressive and this bad boy is my favourite; an Il Profumo di Maria. Comes with a little hat on so when you take it off the cherry smoke cascades out of the glass. Tastes like an alcoholic parma violet. Everything I drink should be this beautiful.
For nibbles we had the grilled flatbread with honey, thyme and smoked butter and a chorizo skewer. Most dishes at Ember Yard are cooked over charcoal (they tell you what kind on the menu… possibly overkill, but I can forgive that). The flatbread was beautiful; charred and swimming in sweet and smoky, thymey butter and the fact that the chorizo was ever so slightly burned added a new dimension to the usual (delicious) sausage.
We ordered tapas in two lots; mostly fish and mostly meat. First off we had applewood smoked sea bream carpaccio, smoked and grilled gurnard with fennel and smoked ricotta gnocchi gratin. The carpaccio is a firm favourite of mine and something I order every time I go. Again, the smoky flavour really makes the dish something special. The gurnard (which we ordered because neither of us had ever tried gurnard before) was also lovely; smoked white fish not being something I’ve tried before. The pomegranate with the carpaccio and the fennel with the gurnard was a nice, fresh contrast to the smokiness of the fish.
The gratin came slightly later than the fish and I’m glad it did as it was so creamy it might have become a bit overwhelming otherwise. As it was it was just a nice interlude between the fish and meat dishes we ordered.
(*explanatory note = crap photos after this point as the lights went down and meant I could barely see what I was eating, never mind take decent photos of it. Sorry*)
From the meat menu we ordered the ribs and the presa, and we also had the hot smoked butternut squash. The ribs at Ember Yard are amazing – the meat just falls off the bone and they’re coated with a rich, sweet, sticky glaze which will have you sucking your fingers in delight. One of my friends (a self-proclaimed rib connoisseur) reckons these are the best ribs he’s ever tasted. I can’t pretend to have vast experience of ribs, but from my perspective these ones are damn fine. The smoked butternut squash will blow your mind – no vegetable should be allowed to taste that good! But the main event here is the presa. OHMYGOD. When I first ordered this I had no idea what it was and when they brought it to the table I saw little circles of beautifully dark pink meat with a chargrilled outside and I assumed it was beef. No no, my friends, presa is actually pork. But it is the Rolls Royce of pork; the big, pork Daddy. A piece of meat from the loin of the Iberico pig, it’s apparently the porky equivalent of wagyu beef AND IT IS THE BEST THING YOU WILL EVER PUT IN YOUR MOUTH, EVER. Seriously. It comes with whipped jamon butter and I could eat it forever. After two plates (yeah, we ordered it twice, so?) I could feel my arteries furring, but do you know what, if I died with this in my mouth I wouldn’t even be sad.
Instead of pudding we had a plate of the jamon Iberico and a selection of Italian cheeses. The jamon is expensive but, as I’ve said before when talking about charcuterie, you get what you pay for and this is exceptional. The cheese board we ordered was a selection of quite strong cheeses (the pecorino looked innocuous but nearly took our faces off it was so sharp) which all went beautifully with the red wine our waitress chose for us to go with it.
I can’t remember which wine we had, but the wine selection at Ember Yard is brilliant and the staff are amazingly helpful. If you tell them what you usually like they’ll help you pick the perfect wine to go with your meal and it’ll probably be something you’d never think of ordering yourself.
I won’t lie Readers, this place ain’t cheap (especially when you’re a Hungry Swan) but it’s SO worth it.