Thursday 19 June 2014

Alyn Williams at The Westbury, London

Alyn Williams at The Westbury Hotel in Mayfair has been on my list for a while, despite the occasional appearance on TV, Chef Alyn seems to go about his business quietly. Reports of this one Michelin starred restaurant are consistently positive; however it has always slipped the mind under the bombardment of new openings and more media centric Chefs in the capital. Searching for a tasting menu for a recent dinner the restaurant popped up and at a cost of £65 per head, it seemed a good deal for what was being offered.

The hotel itself is a classical five star affair, and the dining room reminded me of Simon Radley at The Grosvenor in Chester. One difference being floor to ceiling wine cupboards dominated the centre of the room at Alyn Williams.  As we were presented with the menus a barrage of nibbles were sent from the kitchen, the pick of which being oyster leaf and lemon gels.

The first course of langoustine, lemongrass, chilli, coconut and cucumber was obviously Thai inspired and was a light refreshing start to the meal. The langoustines were plump and sweet and the broth was well judged and did not overpower the dish.

A fish course followed with hake, nasturtium, asparagus and sea urchin foam. Flaking fish with rich sea urchin, what’s not to like?

French fine dining wouldn’t be complete without foie gras, and the next course delivered this in the disguise of a semi fredo with prune, celeriac, bacon and espresso. I’ve never been too fussed over foie gras and this didn’t change my mind, although it was well presented but felt like it was getting the ingredient on the menu for the sake of it. I guess some connoisseurs would be in uproar if foie gras was omitted.

The next course was Iberico pork with spices, spring salad and tarragon emulsion. The dish was presented with the pork hidden underneath the salad which I soon swept out of the way to get to the main event. This was my favourite course of the night so far with the Iberico pork being sensational, full of flavour, perfectly pink and tender.

Attempting to keep the cost down we restricted ourselves to a glass of white followed by a glass of red wine. We opted for an unusual white Rioja which proved to be a great choice for the first few courses. A short while passed before the next course and the sommelier kindly topped up our red wine for the overdue last savoury course.

We chose one of each of the main courses of Lomeswood Farm duck, wild garlic and barigoule and new season Welsh lamb, jersey royals, seawood and black truffle. By now food fatigue was beginning to settle in due to the delights of the previous courses, but the pick of the mains was the duck for being more interesting.

The first dessert acted as a palate cleanser of mango, avocado, meringue and sherbet. This was followed by a sweeter medley of chocolate, melilot, date and salt.

For quality it lives up to its one Michelin star billing with nicely executed dishes. For pricing the tasting menu is pitched at the lower end of comparable menus at other starred restaurants, which is a nice surprise as it easily outshines most.

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