When this month’s restaurant review came around I was almost spoilt for choice after the recent Weetabix Northamptonshire Food & Drink Awards. Having missed the awards evening, I was really interested to find out more about the winners and one venue stood out for me.
After winning a gold award for both Booker Young Chef of the Year and Dining Venue of the Year, it was a simple choice to visit Restaurant Ember in Wellingborough. Now most foodies would have heard of James Peck and sampled his wonderful food throughout Northamptonshire. Sadly I was not one of these, so I was massively excited to finally sample some amazing food from James and his team.
Let’s start with the booking process, as simple as could be. On the website you are taken through to book your table for the desired time and date and then pay a small deposit. At first, I was hesitant about this but when I visited I totally understood why. We booked a table for 5.30pm on a Friday evening as the babysitter could not stay all night! Please bear in mind that I booked two weeks in advance, and I had a choice of 5.30pm or 9.30pm, which shows how popular the restaurant is.
Restaurant Ember is conveniently located in Nene Court, Wellingborough, which offers a local shopping experience with unique and independent shops and businesses. The restaurant itself was lit up and looked amazing and we were able to park right outside the front doors with no charge (always a bonus).
On entry we were greeted by one of the team and were shown to our table. As soon as the front doors opened we were greeted with an amazing wood fired smell which definitely set the tone for the evening. The food and drinks menus arrived and I was happy straight away as they had Italian lager, while my wife was happy as she had a decent cocktail selection to pick from (which she proceeded to work her way through). What I was immediately impressed with was the staff and the owner were engaging with diners at their tables and making recommendations.
James came over to our table and introduced himself and we immediately asked what was best to start with as neither of us could choose. James recommended the corn bread alongside the lamb and pork tacos, I simply could not ignore the king scallops either.
Every plate was delicious. Having never had corn bread before I was surprised at how tasty these were, but the outright winner was the scallops. Cooked over embers with a wood-fired pepper dressing, they were amazing. The thing I loved the most was the samphire, I could have eaten a bowl of it by itself.
Bring on the meat for mains! I couldn’t decide on the whole onglet steak or the 8oz flat iron steak, but I felt confident enough to ask James what he thought. Firstly, he corrected me on my pronunciation of onglet, then he blew my mind.
Onglet steak is commonly referred to as the Butcher’s Steak, the reason being that butchers used to keep it for themselves because of the flavour. Once again, I was hugely impressed. To accompany the steak we went with smoked celeriac, potato fondants and a grilled gem lettuce.
When the mains arrived, my wife informed me that she was actually quite full from the first round of food, so if you do not have a huge appetite I would be mindful. Nevertheless, I soldiered on and tucked into the onglet steak… wow!
Cooked to perfection it was succulent and tasty and up there with some of the best steak I have ever enjoyed. If I am honest, I was not that fussed about the vegetable sides as I had a whole plate of meat in front of me, but the sides were also full of flavour and a really good size.
Top button undone, it was time for our sweet. I was worried at this point that I may have over indulged but when I saw someone else had picked Hannah’s sticky toffee pudding I had to give it a go. We decided to share this (I ate the majority) and it was great. A bowl full of sauce, which is a winner in my books with any dessert.
What has to be said is how quickly the restaurant filled up after we were seated at 5.30pm. We had the table for two hours and when we came to leave the restaurant was in full flow.
A great choice of music was being played, beautiful aromas filled the room and, most importantly, there was a room full of happy people.
To round up this review, if you appreciate great food and amazing service alongside the knowledge of the people serving you then you simply must try Ember.
Modern small plates inspired by barbecue culture to create barbecue tapas. This place gets a 10 out of 10 from me.
To find out more or make a reservation, click here.
This visit was booked anonymously and the food and drink was paid for by the writer