Having worked under the likes of Marcus Wareing and Gordon Ramsay in some of Britain’s top restaurants, Alyn Williams now has his own Michelin-starred restaurant, set in Mayfair’s The Westbury Hotel (located a short stroll from Bond Street, which our poor credit card discovered only too well). As is the case with most hotel restaurants, the décor & atmosphere is polished, quiet and on the serious side. However the warm, friendly team welcomed us with a hospitality that we remembered for weeks later. Fine wines are on display in a large glass cellar, crisp white tablecloths adorn every table and although it wasn’t heaving, we were by no means the only ones dining.
Tasting menus are priced at £90, whether you take the meaty one or the veggie friendly option. The additional wine pairing is offered at £160 (or £230 for an even more premium selection), or mix things up entirely and go for matching beers at £140. A quick note on the wine, we went for the entry level option and it was outstanding, so there’s really no need to spend more unless you really want too.
If we’re totally honest with you, we’d kind of fallen out of love with tasting menus of late (I know, I know, my diamond shoes are pinching here, please get out your tiny violin). BUT, but, a night tucking into Alyn Williams at The Westbury reminded us just how bloody great they could be. We’d never normally go for the veggie tasting menu, but the cacio de pepe course swung it for me and so in the interest of research, we got both.
Three sets of canapes appeared, starting with light as air cheesy choux pastry balls (and we should know what we’re talking about here, having recently spent a morning learning the art of choux) washed down with a cold glass of Pol Roger. Delicate, elegant cigars filled with foie gras followed, alongside dainty open tartlets with freshly podded peas. Mmmm, food before food – our favourite. Despite the upcoming eight courses we couldn’t resist tearing chunks from the perfect sourdough cob with salted butter.
First up for me was a glass bowl of pea mousse, with a deliciously cooling mint and yoghurt granita (perfect during this heatwave!). Andy got a similar iteration of flavours but with scallop ceviche, watermint and cucumber, served in a perfect shell. So far, I was in the lead with my veggie menu. Next up was my roasted cauliflower which you could hardly see for a fine shaving of black garlic, under which was hazelnuts and tiny grapes. SO blimmin delicious, particularly with the Kit’s Coty Chardonnay from Kent’s Chapel Down vineyard it had been paired with (we ADORED the sommelier by the way). Andy’s Cornish halibut was a treat, with clams and courgette, finished at the table with a swirl of taramasalata sauce but so far I was still feeling smug with my lot. Beetroot, ricotta, pecans – his with eel, mine without – was a beautifully constructed dish. The Cacio e Pepe lived up to my creamy pasta dreams whilst his chicken salad was elevated to the next level with a carefully constructed beehive waffle creation. The only dish I struggled to get particularly excited about was the very large carrot that made up the bulk of my main course, especially when you look over to see some very delicious looking lamb on the opposite plate. Unless of course you’re a lamb, in which case the carrots would no doubt delight.
A slight pause came where we marvelled at the antique cheese trolley, with its glass dome displaying a whole host of stinky treats. An additional £15 will give you the most glorious selection of cheese, which we’d honestly say is not to be missed. Served with the likes of truffle honey and fruit curried chutney, we got pretty giddy with at excitement at this point.
Our tasting menus joined up at this point, with matching desserts of yoghurt, blackberry and sorrel followed by a fig tartlet with fig leaf curd and pistachio sprinkles. Just when we thought there couldn’t possibly be another mouthful to come, out a couple more bites appeared, alongside a bowl of truffles.
Utterly indulgent, definitely best saved for a special occasion, this is a tasting menu where you actually want to devour each plate and there is no chance you’ll leave hungry. Couple that with warm service and exciting wine pairings and you can see why we got into our taxi with the biggest smiles on our faces. We’d return in a heartbeat.
More information including menus can be found here: http://www.alynwilliams.com