May 11, 2018
This newest venture from the team behind Salt Yard and the Opera Tavern occupies a handsome split level space at the top end of Berwick Street. In terms of décor it’s as sleek and smart as its siblings, with a lively bar in the basement and a stylish, low-lit dining room upstairs. The emphasis here is on grilled things, on the scent of hickory smoke and the tang of barbecued meat. Combining Spanish and Italian influences, the bar menu features a series of tapas style snacks the obligatory padron peppers, some of the plumpest anchovies we’ve ever come across, and a moreish charred flatbread with honey, thyme and smoked butter. They also stock an excellent range of Spanish and Italian cheese and charcuterie. Smoke also features on the cocktail list the Ember and Ash is a complex, aromatic mix of raisin infused rum, PX, and bourbon smoke, theatrically served with a little lid allowing the smoke to escape as you take your first sip. The Gepetto’s Tonic pairs gin with homemade tonic water and grapefruit bitters, while the Vintage Negroni (our favourite) is a layered blend of gin, smoked Campari, Antica Formula, grilled orange and smoked ice, giving a smoky, savoury edge to the classic aperitif. The wine list encompasses a wide range of Spanish and Italian wines, veering from the well-known to the more obscure, with a cellar housing the more adventurous varieties. There’s a good range of cavas, sherries and sweet wines too, including a deliciously rich and raisiny moscatel and a tawny port. From a short but exciting dessert list, a date, walnut and quince cake with smoked Muscavado ice cream (once more with the smoke) complemented all that had gone before. Service was informed, friendly and full of passion for both the food and drink, enhancing the experience no end.