There is an effortless charm with everything associated with Ember, a pan Asian fusion bar and dining establishment in Monument, you might not fully appreciate the tremendous thought and organisation that went into setting up the place. Firstly it is situated on the street where the Great Fire of London first started and they opened on the 350th anniversary year of that momentous event.
The decor is their designer’s interpretation of the Great Fire of London with the varied use of gleaming coppers, charcoal metal and warm wood. They have quite a few intimate spaces like the snug and the retreat that can fit 6 and 4 respectively for private dining. Their main bar area fits up to 50 for dining, but is curiously split up into 3 parts which is separated by lengthy dining tables. It is the perfect venue for intimate occasions and less suited to larger scale events in my opinion.
The food from head chef, Jonathan Villar excels with flair and creativity. It is a sharing style tapas menu where you are recommended to order around 2-3 dishes per person. The humble prawn cocktail was reinvented as the extravagant Scottish lobster and crabmeat martini. The use of wasabi and gin sorbet was refreshingly groundbreaking and a trend I hope others will follow. The avocado cream was suitably luscious tasting.
Hot-smoked salmon salad might sound relatively pedestrian in comparison, but not when their version contains mizuna (Japanese mustard greens), jicama (Mexican turnip) and kalamansi & kaffir lime dressing along with the salmon being soy-glazed.
They don’t do basic versions of anything here. The burger was Wagyu beef and foie gras with the bun an intense forest green colour from the avocado. The juicy patty was flavoured with smoked miso relish, sriracha mayonnaise and Gruyère. My only complaint was the small portion size, but then people do say great things come in small packages.
For the less squeamish, they do offer Smoked kangaroo fillet Wellington with exotic wasabi potato cream and Shao Hsing wine jus. The taste was still quite gamey despite the strong flavourings, so if you are not a fan of gamey meat, I would suggest picking another dish.
Imbibing is also a crucial part of the Ember experience: they have rare and vintage spirits, over 120 distinctive wines from small artisanal estates and imaginative cocktails using fresh and natural ingredients. If you want something earthy, dry and not too strong-tasting, their tea ceremony cocktail is a must order. The jasmine tea-infused sake and cremorne sloe gin were extremely sippable and the oriental touches were unmistakable with the use of lotus root syrup and plum bitters.
Ember has the kind of breathtaking menu that demands repeated visits and no doubt the Townfish team will be back to visit them soon.