Fancy cocktails and bar food are the hallmark at Ember London, a sleek and slightly secretive basement bar recently opened just steps away from Monument Station.
Food, drink and setting are presented to impress at this new City of London den.
Executive Chef Jonathan Villar’s (ex-Head Chef of Peter Gordon’s Kopapa) menu of small plates and upscale bar bites is an assemblage of attractively constructed and rather exotic dishes. Best summation of that might be the smoked kangaroo fillet Wellington and haggis, shiitake mushrooms, bok choy, wasabi potato cream, and Shao Hsing wine jus (£14.50). Pretentious, but tasty. Less affected and even tastier is the kalamansi-cured braised octopus with gochugaru chilli, Thai shallots, mint, sweet basil, and pawpaw (£8.90). Also yummy is the Wagyu and foie gras burger with smoked miso relish, sugar cured streaky bacon, sriracha mayonnaise and Gruyere served on an avocado “bun” (£14.90). And a real winner with looks and flavour is the confit duck leg with orange blossom labneh, hoisin and tahini glaze, rhubarb, beetroot and orange salad, and crushed pistachios (£7.80).
As sexy as the food is, the drinks seem to be the real spark behind Ember. Two cocktails that caught my (and my palate’s) attention are the aptly titled Mountain Mist (clove-infused Hennessy, Amaro Montenegro Benedictine with chillim, ginger and orange bitters, and pine-scented fog, £12) and the milkshake-y sweet Japanese Hard Shake (Johnnie Walker Black Label and Araku Rum Coffee Liqueur with espresso, vanilla and anise rice milk, £10).
The hush-hush feel of this subterranean den is the design work of Ross McNally (Scarinish Studio) using Tom Dixon pieces for a look and feel combining plush luxury with industrial trappings (or is that the other way around?).
Service was ahead of the game during my visit and helpful sharing advice about the menu and drinks list.
Ember is located at 1A Pudding Lane, EC3R 8AB. Find out more at ember.london.