Tom gets a second bite at Ember Yard and once again gets away without paying. He does have to turn in his copy on time though as we are all jealous.
You know the feeling: you spend ages waiting for one Spanish beer dinner and then two come along at once. Well, if you count ‘at once’ as two in the space of two months, that is. In any case, after an enjoyable evening with the nice people from Alhambra Beer at Coya, a Peruvian restaurant perhaps more suited to the international plutocracy than yours truly, I was invited to another at one of London’s best Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Ember Yard on Berwick Street in Soho.
I have been to Ember Yard before, flukily winning a free meal via the old business card in the goldfish bowl trick the last time I visited Taste of London. I say free, but it wasn’t completely, as our greed eclipsed the restaurant’s prize-giving generosity, and at the end of the night we had to cough up for a range of extra drinks and courses.
However, even if we had had to pay for the whole shebang, I wouldn’t have minded, as the food – Spanish and Italian by inspiration and cooked over a mix of Kentish hardwood and charcoal – is fantastic. Therefore, answering in the affirmative to an invite to try their new Alhambra infused dishes from a limited menu devised by chef Ben Tish was one of last week’s easier decisions.
The evening started off with some decent flatbread with a beer and jamon butter; a bit ho-hum, but the only dish that even slightly disappointed. Next up, the deep fried hake made with an Alhambra Reserva batter and mussels, and the Alhambra brined duck with fennel were both crackers.
The night’s real highlight, however, was the hot smoked pork belly with apples and marjoram, which was a genuine gold-plated, club-banger of a dish. The sweet smokiness from the pork combined with the sharpness of the apple and herbaceous-border freshness from the marjoram was a revelation and had me clamouring for more as I mine-swept any leftovers.
After this triumph, the Gloucester Old Spot pork chop with mojo verde seemed less exciting, but a tasty dish in any case. For dessert, we had a version of my own dinner party staple: a fruit and frangipane tart. In this case, the almond was paired with poached cherries and a spiced ice-cream. Good enough for me to copy the next time I have some mates round for a feed.
As with the last dinner at Coya, the whole menu was paired with the Alhambra beer Ã¢â‚¬â€œ their Especial lager and the higher strength 1925 Reserva. The combination of the Reserva and the smoked pork belly was my match of the evening and is worth the trip on its own. So if you are in town and do fancy trying this and the rest of the Alhambra themed menu out for yourself, head down to Soho, where it available at Ember Yard for a limited time.
Alhambra is available in the UK from a growing number of restaurants and bars as well as Majestic Wine and other independent merchants