THE LOWDOWN: The Salt Yard Group have opened their fourth London restaurant, Ember Yard, on Soho’s Berwick Street. The menu, put together by chef-director Ben Tish, focuses on Spanish and Italian-inspired dishes cooked over charcoal. After five years as sous chef at Salt Yard, rising star Jacques Fourie is leading the kitchen as head chef. The group also owns Dehesa (close to Carnaby Street) and Opera Tavern in Covent Garden.
THE FOOD: The menu includes some knock-out grilled dishes like Iberico presa with whipped jamon butter, cuttlefish with n’duja sauce and roast pumpkin, and huge prawns seasoned with Basque salt, garlic and chilli. Ember Yard is the group’s first restaurant to serve larger dishes like hot smoked Old Spot pork belly and whole sea bream baked in salt, designed for sharing.
If you love the mini Iberico and foie gras burger they serve at Opera Tavern, don’t miss the smoked Basque beef version that’s already flying out of the Ember Yard kitchen. (Best served with some of their Iberico manteca fries with chorizo ketchup). On our visit, the stand-out dish was the quince-glazed Iberico pork ribs on celeriac puree that are already doing the rounds on Instagram. The meltingly tender, sticky sweet and smoky meat pulled easily off the bones, with the smooth earthy puree beneath bringing all the flavours together.
If it sounds like the sort of place that would frighten a vegetarian, don’t worry – there are meat-free dishes like parsnip chips with truffled honey, a grilled pear salad, and a wonderfully indulgent gratin of roasted root veg with smoked ricotta and Idiazabal cheese. Save room for dessert though – the hot chocolate ganacha with salted caramel ice-cream is well worth sharing.
THE DRINKS: Ember Yard is the first Salt Yard Group restaurant to offer an extensive cocktail menu, so it’s worth heading downstairs to the basement bar for a pre- or post-dinner drink. In a nod to the menu’s smoking and grilling theme, drinks like the Ember & Ash and Il Profumo di Maria arrive in a cloud of flavoured smoke. (The latter – a mix of vodka, Prosecco, violets and elderflower – smells like an elderly aunt’s wardrobe, in a good way). There is also an excellent wine list (with plenty of choice by the glass), plus some top notch sherries and Italian and Spanish beers.
THE VERDICT: As die-hard fans of Salt Yard and Opera Tavern, we (rather predictably) loved the food at Ember Yard. Sure, the bill adds up fast if you order plate after plate, but when the cooking is this good it still feels like excellent value for money. When we visited during their soft opening week, the slick front-of-house team and the guys in the busy open kitchen were already working in near-perfect harmony and the dining room was buzzing with contented diners.
Our only niggle was with the seating – we would have preferred one of the cosy tables for two, rather than the slightly squashed high table we ended up sharing with four strangers. (If that would bother you, request a low table when booking to guarantee a little more space and privacy).
Ember Yard is a welcome addition to one of London’s consistently impressive restaurant groups. If you’re planning a West End shopping or theatre trip this winter, making a booking here will be the best decision you’ve made all day.
Street food collective KERB lost their regular spot at the Gherkin earlier this year but they’re back with a bang with a two-date Christmas special on the 5th and 12th of December. If you work nearby, ditch your sad sandwich, grab your favourite colleagues and treat yourself to some of London’s finest street food. Traders will include familiar favourites like Big Apple Hot Dogs, Bleecker St Burger, Spit & Roast, Tongue ‘n Cheek and Fundi Pizza.
Drake & Morgan (The Happenstance, The Anthologist) will open their latest bar-restaurant in Holborn next February. The new addition, The Fable, is inspired by fairy tales and Aesop’s fables so expect sparkling crystal, twinkling candelabras and a scattering of storybooks and flowers. Like its sister sites, The Fable will be open all day with a menu that moves from breakfast all the way through lunch, afternoon tea, after-work drinks and dinner.
Some of London’s top restaurateurs are set to launch new restaurants in 2014. Rainer Becker will open Roka Mayfair on North Audley Street in February, followed by Roka Aldwych in the summer. Goodman are opening a lobster roll deli on Duke Street, Iberica have plans for new sites in London and Manchester, and Raymond Blanc has announced plans for three new gastropubs in the capital. You can find more restaurants opening in 2014 at the bottom of our Coming Soon list.
Forget the Christmas sandwich, what you really need is a Christmas burger. Naturally, the guys at Hawksmoor have you covered. Between their festive buns, you’ll find a juicy slab of buttermilk fried turkey, a Ginger Pig sausage patty, crispy smoked bacon, sprout tops, spiced cranberry ketchup AND Ogleshield cheese. It will only set you back £12 at their Spitalfields bar and that includes some delicious turkey gravy for you to dip it in.
Over at Honest Burgers, their Christmas burger features a slab of deep-fried Camembert (with cranberry sauce, obviously) and if you’re eating at their Portobello Road restaurant, you can try out their new mini battered sausages, complete with homemade curry sauce. Check out some pics on the excellent Burgaffair blog.
December openings – If you thought things were winding down for the winter, thing again! Next month’s newcomers include Salt Yard’s new baby, Ember Yard; the pork-focused Blackfoot in Exmouth Market; and Martin Morales' new Peruvian restaurant, Andina, in Shoreditch. Soho will be particularly busy with French bistro Blanchette, a new Rum Kitchen, and Bobby Chinn’s House of Ho all set to open their doors before Christmas.
The Big Easy team have finally set a date. Their new 300-cover bar-restaurant will open on Maiden Lane in Covent Garden in February 2014. Taking inspiration from their ever-busy King’s Road barbecue and crabshack, they will be serving authentic American barbeque and seafood.
Spread over three floors in a former electrical power station, the West End site will feature an impressive ‘wall of fire’ made up of two Argentinean-style parilla charcoal grills, a huge rotisserie spit, and a wood-burning oven. A BBQ pit area will house two wood-burning smokers where prime cuts of meat will be smoked over woods like oak, hickory and cherry for up to 18 hours. A vast lobster tank will house nearly 2,000 live Nova Scotia lobsters.
On the ground floor, drinkers will be able to perch at a nine-metre long bar and choose from a wide range of spirits including plenty of American whiskey, tequila, rum, and French and Spanish brandy. The bar menu will also include craft beer, classic cocktails, ‘boozy juices’ and hard shakes.
Big Easy have struck gold with their new kitchen team, led by executive chef Kenny Callaghan. Kenny is best known as the former chef-partner of the legendary New York BBQ restaurant, Blue Smoke. Working alongside him as pit master will be Pete Daversa, formerly of NYC’s Hill Country and Blue Smoke. They will be working with top quality cuts of pork and beef (including USDA and Wagyu), rare breed British steaks, and fresh local seafood (in addition to the Canadian lobsters).
Big Easy founder, Paul Corrett, hopes the restaurant will signal ‘a return to extravagant social dining of a bygone age’. He promises that the Covent Garden site will offer live music seven nights a week, as well as their popular daily-changing special offers. (Fans of the all-you-can eat shrimp and BBQ nights at the Chelsea original won’t be disappointed.)
Café Murano – If your budget won’t stretch to Murano, check out Angela Hartnett’s relaxed and affordable alternative on St James’s Street. The menu has a Northern Italian focus so expect monkfish tail with brown shrimps and golden raisins, gnocchi with ceps, and a daily changing selection of ice-creams.
Earlham Street Clubhouse – Thin-crust pizza by the slice, Soul Shakers cocktails, and an East Coast beach club vibe; what’s not to love about this Earlham Street newcomer?
Sticks ‘n’ Sushi – Having won over Wimbledon with their expertly prepared sushi and Japanese snacks on sticks, the Danish restaurant group have opened a new site in Covent Garden. There’s a huge range of sushi and sashimi to choose from, as well as skewers, tempura shrimp bites and duck wraps.
The Jones Family Project – Now open on Great Eastern Street, the team behind this all-day bar-restaurant promise carefully sourced ingredients and a small but perfectly formed wine list. They’re open for breakfast right through to dinner with a menu that includes house-cured brandy salmon, venison haunch with red wine and pomegranate sauce, and steaks cooked on their Josper grill.
Churchill’s Port House – London’s first pop-up port bar has set up home in Soho to serve a variety of ports, wines and tapas dishes until late February. They’re open Thursday to Saturday with a no-nonsense list of eight ports and five wines. You can snack on cheese and charcuterie boards or put together a feast of things like chilli and garlic prawns, pork terrine, and foie gras served with figs and port jelly.
Foxlow – Good luck getting a table at this new St John Street restaurant from the Hawksmoor boys. If you do manage to squeeze in, you can look forward to charcoal grilled Iberico pork pluma, Brixham crab with devilled mayo, and slow-smoked bacon ribs and beef shortrib.
Rita’s Bar & Dining – After the success of their residency at Birthdays in Dalston, Rita’s Bar & Dining will reopen in a new permanent home in Hackney on the 19th. Menu details are yet to be released but we’ve heard that former Salt Yard head chef Andrew Clarke has joined their kitchen team.
House of Ho – Celeb chef Bobby Chinn launches his first UK restaurant in Soho this month. Details are being kept under wraps but Viet food fans can expect dishes like lemongrass chicken wings, five spiced quail, sake steamed clams, and smoked aubergine with scallion vinaigrette.
Boopshi’s – If you need a break from small plates and ‘dude food’, head for this schnitzel and spritz bar opening near Goodge Street on the 25th. Brothers Ed and Ben Robson will be serving schnitzels made with British rose veal, free-range chicken and rare breed pork, along with Prosecco on tap, an exclusive Camden Town Brewery beer, and some signature spritzes.
On The Bab – At the end of the month, the team behind Koba and Nizuni will open a new Korean joint on Old Street. On The Bab will serve flavoured soju (Korean rice liquor) and cocktails, along with ‘anju’ dishes which are the Korean equivalent of bar snacks (as far as we can tell). Drop in for kimchi arancini, yangyum chicken, spring onion pancakes, and spicy seafood stew.
This year, the Broadgate Ice Rink has its very own pop-up restaurant, Bar BBQ on Ice. Tucked away behind Liverpool Street station, the rink-side cabin is serving craft beer, cocktails and Memphis-style BBQ to keep skaters and City slickers warm through the winter.
The team travelled all the way to Tennessee to learn the secrets of smoke and fire from Memphis BBQ masters, so the menu is a meaty crowd-pleaser. There are St Louis cut barbecue ribs, 14-hour hickory smoked pulled pork, chuck steak burgers, smoky chilli con carne, and flat iron steaks. Make it a meal with sides like mac ‘n’ cheese, baked beans with burnt ends, and baked sweet potatoes.
If you don’t have time to stop for lunch, you can swing by for a takeaway and enjoy a chilli cheese dog al desko. Bringing your kids? Under-10s can order a kids’ tray with a choice of mac ‘n’ cheese, mini burger or hot dog with chips and a drink for a fiver. Bargain!
On the drinks front, there are classic cocktails, wines split into 'good', 'great' and 'awesome' categories, and beers like Camden Hells, Goose Island IPA, and Pabst Blue Ribbon. If you’re bringing a crowd, you can order cocktails and beer by the pitcher or warm up after skating with mulled wine, hot buttered rum and naughty hot chocolate. (Don’t worry, there’s tea and coffee for the designated drivers and milkshakes and soda floats for the kids).
The Broadgate Ice Rink is open daily from 10am to 10pm until late February 2014. You can book online to guarantee your preferred time slot, or just turn up and skate. Bar BBQ On Ice is open from 10am to 11pm every day. The bar is available for private hire so keep it in mind if you’re planning parties over the festive season.
The Forza Win(ter) boys are back! This year they’ve swapped the fonduta for porchetta and the chilly rooftop for a disused pickle factory in Hackney. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday in November and December, they’ll be serving proper Italian porchetta (made with Ginger Pig rare breed pork cooked over Kentish Oak), along with minestrone soup, warm cavolo nero salads, and poached winter fruits with ricotta. Guests can warm up with hot spiced beer, mulled port, Italian punch and some carefully chosen wines from the bar. Tickets are £35 for four courses, a drink on arrival and entertainment, so check out the video and get booking.
Russell Norman and Richard Beatty will open The Ape & Bird public house on Shaftesbury Avenue this month, serving British classics like poached trout with cobnuts and devilled kidneys on toast. Spread over three floors, four bars will serve craft beers on tap, British and American bottled beers, and a cocktail list with a focus on juleps, sours and Martinis. Norman and Beatty have also acquired a 100-cover site in Notting Hill Gate for their fourth Polpo.
If you’re taking part in Movember this year to raise awareness of prostate and testicular cancer, don’t forget that the burger-slingers at Byron have your back. If you register at movember.com and raise at least £25 in sponsorship, they’ll reward you with a free hamburger (or main salad) every day from 8th to 17th November between 3pm and 6pm. Plus, when you order a Mo’ Shroom special, 50p goes straight to the charity all month long.
Will Beckett and Huw Gott (of Hawksmoor fame) will open Foxlow on St John Street in Clerkenwell on November 14th. The menu will feature slow-smoked meats like the six-hour bacon ribs and eight-hour beef short ribs, alongside unusual cuts of steak, salads and soft-serve sundaes. The cocktail list will feature twelve new and original drinks, including a spicy Smoked Bloody Mary.
Min Jiang is turning up the heat in November with the Chilli Sensation menu and cocktail flight. Priced at £65, it includes three fiery cocktails and a set menu of spicy Chinese dishes served family-style for two people or more. Starters of soft shell crab and Sichuan chicken are paired with a Sichuan Mary, while for the main course, a Chilli Caipirinha accompanies gong bao prawns and ma po tofu. For dessert, there’s a spicy but sweet Sichuan pancake and a Chilli Chocolatini. You can also enjoy the cocktails separately in the bar, with an optional soft shell crab side dish.
1st November – KERB’s Halloween Hellraiser. If you’re too old for trick or treating, head for King’s Cross where the KERB team are hosting a night of freaky food, bone-chilling beer, creepy cocktails and macabre music. Their regular traders are putting on ghoulish specials like Vampire Slayer and Bloody Mess pizzas from the Well Kneaded Wagon, black steamed buns with blood sauce from BAO, creepy crawly tacos from Ambriento and lots more.
1-3rd November – Real Street Food Festival. The Real Food Fest team are celebrating the last street food festival of the year in style with over 30 traders, live music, and three separate bars selling craft beer, wine and cocktails. Look out for riverside regulars like The Frenchie, Bleeker St Burger, Jamon Jamon, Fundi Pizza, and our new favourite, Donostia Social Club.
7-9th November – Night Tales. Running Thursday to Saturday every week until Christmas, Night Tales will bring great food, drink and live music to Dalston’s Abbot Street car park. Run by the team behind Background Bars and Dalston Roof Park, the canopy-covered site will house a mezzanine Mezcal bar, a Negroni station, and log fires to keep everyone cosy. Expect Southern-style BBQ from Smokey Tails, burgers from Patty & Bun, steamed buns from BAO, and lots more.
8th November – Hawker House. The team behind Street Feast are launching Hawker House, a warm indoor haven for street food and booze lovers, which will run every Friday and Saturday for six weeks. There will be fantastic food from Breddos Tacos, BOB’s Lobster, Yum Bun, Spit & Roast and Rainbo, as well as a Rola Wala naan bar and ribs straight from Smokestak’s smoker. On the booze front, Street Vin will be selling restaurant quality wines at street level prices, the Whisky Bar will offer over 50 different whiskies, and the Hot Bar will be knocking out hot buttered rum, hot wine and cognac-spiked hot chocolate.
16th November – Wine Car Boot. If you’re stocking up on wine for the festive season, head for the Union Car Park (near London Bridge) where some of London’s best independent wine shops will be sampling and selling their favourite wines. Tickets are a tenner and they include your first five tastes, a six bottle wine carrier and a tasting glass which is yours to keep. It’s a great way to meet some lovely local wine sellers and taste your way out of the supermarket.
Still hungry? Use our handy twitter list of London food markets to find more great street food and local produce near you. If you’d rather be inside, check out our New Openings page for inspiration or give us a shout on twitter if you need recommendations.
After five years as operations manager at Leon, Tom Ward is set to open a pork-inspired restaurant on Exmouth Market in December. Surrounded by buzzy local favourites like Caravan, Moro and Paesan, Blackfoot will be a casual neighbourhood restaurant specialising in top quality British pork. Tom hopes to create ‘a welcoming place’ with food that is ‘simple with bold flavours’.
Situated on the former site of Clark’s Pie & Mash Shop, the restaurant will retain many of the original features alongside a new bar area where diners can enjoy a plate of charcuterie and a glass of wine. Blackfoot will be open from lunch until late, with weekend brunch planned for early 2014.
The kitchen will be led by James Knight (ex-Copita) and Tom has been working with former colleague Allegra McEvedy to create a pig-centric menu. A huge fan of all things pig, she explains, ‘No animal has such incredible diversity, and Tom and I have been having tons of fun in the kitchen exploring the full, impressive breadth of what a pig has to offer.’
Much of the pork on offer will be provided by Mark and Paul Haywood of Dingley Dell in Suffolk. The team have also sourced charcuterie from small UK producers, so look out for lardo, coppa and lomo from the Dorset coast and spicy chorizo from Kent.
The menu is packed with porcine treats like smoked slow-roasted belly with Sichuan pepper and black treacle; spare rib steaks with fennel, cayenne and garlic; pulled pork tacos; gammon steak with pineapple; and Vietnamese pot belly salad. There will also be a handful of non-pig options like monkfish Wellington and Cherrystone clams. At lunchtime, the restaurant will serve hot porchetta and salsa verde sarnies from the counter.
The drinks list will include French wines on tap, European lager and local craft beers, cocktails and Kirs made with British liqueurs, and handpicked ciders from Herefordshire and Somerset.
The team behind Red Dog Saloon have opened an all-American sub and hot dog joint, Red Dog American Sandwiches, next to their Hoxton Square barbecue restaurant. Founder Tom Brooke, who opened Red Dog back in 2011, has spent the last three years perfecting recipes for authentic USA-style ‘sub’ sandwiches which are now available to eat-in or take-away in the new diner.
Tom has worked alongside head chef Tim Tolley (formerly of Vong NYC, Vong London and Plateau) to create a menu that is unique to London in both its authenticity and quality. They’re using prime aged Scottish beef, Suffolk pork, free-range chicken and bread made locally by an artisan baker. (No cheap white hot dog buns here!). Meat is smoked on-site over hickory and all of their sauces, pickles and slaws are house-made, as they should be.
The diner itself is slick but functional, with red leather banquettes and stainless steel topped tables at the front and an open plan kitchen and counter at the back. Diners can order fast food style from the illuminated menu hanging above.
The menu includes fifteen hot and cold subs, four dogs, and a handful of sides, salads and desserts. Choose from classic subs like the Philly Cheesesteak, pulled pork, and Reubens packed with house cured salt beef, hickory smoked pastrami or both. If you’re looking for something a little less meaty, try the tuna melt or the New Orleans style Po’ Boy, filled with Southern fried catfish.
The house hot dogs range from the Chicago (bockwurst sausage, mustard, relish, tomato, onion and pickle) to the Coney Island (topped with beef chilli). Homesick expats might enjoy ‘The King’, Red Dog’s tribute to Elvis - a hot dog topped with peanut butter, jelly and bacon.
Make it a meal by adding sides like fries, onion rings or mozzarella sticks and wash it all down with softs, shakes, beer or bourbon. If you’ve got room, satisfy your sweet tooth with brownies, choc-chip cookies, banana pudding, and apple pies that are a tribute to the ones served under the golden arches (complete with cardboard sleeve).