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Ember Yard, West End, good tapas near Oxford Circus

So strangely this has been my one and only paying gig (sort of). As you have seen I pay for all my own meals, I choose where I want to eat and order what I want and pay my own way. I feel that gives my musings a certain objectivity. In the case of Ember Yard I was asked by the mum of one of Baby G's classmates to be a secret diner. She works for the Salt Yard Group who own Ember Yard and they wanted some feedback on their outlet which was one of their newer openings. I would book in myself in, order what I wanted and report back to them by way of a questionnaire. In return they would give me up to £70 towards the meal. So I booked my brother and I in for lunch on a sunny Friday. It was quite a strange experience as usually I go to places, enjoy (or not) my experience and write it up later at my leisure. In this instance I was looking to be critical based on the outline of their questionnaire. 

Having said that my brother and I had a very jolly lunch at Ember Yard. It is on Berwick St but down towards Oxford St rather than the market end. It is quite a small site with the main seating upstairs, and more seating and cosy looking bar in the basement. We sat upstairs which was busy as you'd hope on a Friday. We started off with a couple of Alhambra Especial which in my opinion is the best spanish beer going. It was lovely though they missed a trick by not pouring it in their great crested glasses. This being tapas we ordered a good selection from their tasty looking menu. The Charcuterie selection was good but as with every tapas place in London not enough meat on the board. My brother really enjoyed the fish selections of octopus (too smoky for me) and mackerel. I was more impressed with the chicken thighs and tasty pressa with whipped Iberico butter. We also had some very good stuffed courgette flowers.

We also ordered some desserts my brothers chocolate cake was lovely whilst my peach cake needed tastier peaches. We had a nice glass wine as recommended by one of the managers of which he gave us a taster first. They did forget our dessert wine which coincided with the busiest bit of their service. All in all a good meal though as with all tapas in London at £120 for two it was expensive. it was interesting to look back on the meal through the prism of the questionnaire.  It was interesting to see how your meal experience is "built" by professional service. It is a sign of well run place like Ember Yard that you don't see this process.  Service was very friendly and welcoming but avoided getting in "matey" territory which can be a problem in casual London eateries. So all in all a good meal and an interesting experience though I have to say I prefer my casual reviewing to doing it professionally, much more fun! 

Zelman Meats, Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge, unlikely venue for an excellent pre-gig dinner

Zelman Meats, Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge, unlikely venue for an excellent pre-gig dinner

Vila Velha, Sagres, Portugal, charming setting and superb food

Vila Velha, Sagres, Portugal, charming setting and superb food