Cover Alaskan king salmon with watercress and capers | Ember by Josh Boutwood

Chef Josh Boutwood does it again with the opening of his latest baby: Ember

A couple of days before it officially opens its doors to the public on May 14, Tatler Dining got an exclusive first look at Ember, which brings you humble, approachable and understandable food. With a menu inspired by a variety of cuisines, Boutwood proudly serves uncomplicated fare marked by his dedication to quality produce and cooking techniques.

“It initially began as a combination of Savage and The Test Kitchen but then evolved into its own concept,” he shared. With a dash of Test Kitchen’s produce forward focus, and a sprinkling of Savage’s back-to-basics mantra on cooking methods, Ember embodies the best of both of the other restaurants’ philosophies, yet has its own distinct identity.

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To start things off, Ember’s interiors are strikingly different from any of his other establishments. Its unconventional shape beautifully accommodates a curved bar counter where diners can eat, facing the dynamic open kitchen filled with young brilliant culinary talents. Speckled floors, deep grey, pops of red, and silver details capture your eye, with the use of curved mirrors and organic shapes to boot. The space was conceptualised by Headroom Interiors and the very hands-on Mr Boutwood himself. “I don’t want to cook in a restaurant that I am not comfortable in,” he comments—who can blame him?

“Our mentalities very similar. They don’t think in straight lines either and we wanted to see curvature. We wanted the design to contrast our cooking almost,” Boutwood explains. Its soft, almost feminine elegance, juxtaposes the somewhat masculine menu. Ember has a distinct retro look that does not go overboard, which clearly is an indication of the playful, sophistication that you are to expect from his menu and growth as a chef.

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A notable, striking feature is Ember’s funky yellow glass-encased private room outfitted with plush sofa seating and wine cabinets and sits floating above the main dining room, giving guests a full birds-eye-view.

When it comes to the food, Boutwood does not disappoint. The dishes are memorable because of their simplicity, focus, and innate sophistication—his restraint and thoughtfulness truly shine through. “Ember is not about all the frills. It is simple, but good. Easy, yet excellent,” Boutwood tells me. He continued to say that he did not want to complicate dishes with so many elements, aiming for the meal to stand out because of outstanding ingredients and expert cookery.

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Ember for all intents and purposes pays homage to Savage, which is about primal eating and pre-industrial cuisine, where one would go to feast. “Ember is a sophisticated evolution of Savage with a high emphasis on amazing ingredients and a more delicate cooking method. While fire is Savage, after it blazes through the material, what is left glowing from your flame is the ember, which is actually the best to cook on,” chef Boutwood elaborates.

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“I want to trigger memories of Sunday feasts spent with family. In my mind, it is enjoying dry-aged steaks that are absolutely, perfectly done, with just the right amount of smokiness, paired with a glass of wine,” he says.

If this latest project is any indication of the direction he is heading and what we can expect more of from him in the future, I can confidently say that I am excited.

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  • PhotographySonny Thakur
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