Alyn Williams, London

http://www.westburymayfair.com

Westbury Hotel, Bond Street, London W1S 2YF

Lunch for one in London. Was on the lookout for some place new. Alyn Williams at the Westbury had opened a few days prior with good buzz, having been former head chef at the ambitious Marcus Wareing. It seemed the perfect place to try. Just my paper & I.

It’s not one of the most recognizable of hotels, but perfectly located off Bond Street. The dining room is cosy and inviting with lots of pastels. It’s a lunch time and not too busy. Attentive service is not going to be a problem.

The menu is extremely well priced for a restaurant with potential. The tasting menu has many delights, with no throwaway dishes to be found. The focus is on British regional food. In a conversation with the restaurant manager, he mentions that the success of Great British Menu has fuelled an interest in native food, making it possible to move away from modern French/European as the staple of fine dining. Wow. I guess it’s a price worth paying then to listen to the insufferable Oliver Peyton.

So the tasting menu it is.

Nibbles are the obligatory gougeres – if it works for Alain Ducasse….

A personal selection of bread to fill up on.

A broad selection including lavash, beer bread & caraway seed butter. All are excellent.

The first course: French onion consommé/crab/gruyere/potato wafer

So we’ve regressed back to France, but it’s a doozy. Deconstructed without being detrimental to flavour. Crab is a mixture of brown and white meat and it’s beautiful and subtle.

Next up: Orkney/Mersea/Aquitaine

A riff on the old classic – scallop and peas – no complaints.

To follow: Dorset snails/malt soil/chickweed

A dish of the country and ‘hedgerow’. Earthy and moreish. It’s a novelty to see snails on the menu and not just drenched in garlic. A pleasing imaginative dish.

Moving into the substantial part of the menu: Guernsey bass/watercress/truffle/Barolo

Pan fried and moist with hit of truffle. A watercress puree provided substantial bite. The combinations made the bass a meaty dish fitting with the autumnal/winter menu. Though not sure all the elements were singing from the same hymn sheet.

Next up: Cotswold white chicken/hen of the wood/smoked egg/charred leek

A complimentary dish from the kitchen. I’d chosen the beef as my main, but the chef said it was too good a dish not to miss. I could not argue. Continuing a run of pretty fine chicken dishes in the UK, this was a front runner. Yet what really stood out was the smoked egg yolk – twice cooked and finished in a smoker it was wonderfully gelatinous. The combination of elements made it an excellent dish. It was the highlight of the meal.

The final main: Devon red beef sirloin/red wine/turnip/oxtail/croutons

Again a triumph of English flavours, including the much under-rated turnip. It was mostly about the beef and everything else was a conduit. Good depth of flavour.

Pre-dessert: Crème Catalan/pear granita/pine sugar

I’m not have a good run of palate cleansers and this was a little vague. It contained all the elements, but nothing really stood out. Not something to dwell on.

To finish: Tiramisu/Nutella brioche

A mild interpretation with only a light coffee flavour. Particularly enjoyed the brioche – a novel twist with the hazelnut and chocolate working particularly well. A decent close.

A whopping espresso to finish with chocolate truffles

It was a fine lunch from the pleasant service to the memorable food. It’s a new opening, so the eagerness is clear to see. Meeting Alyn Williams – enthusiastic and personable, you can’t help to wish him all the best of luck with his venture. It’s a far cry from the noticeable pressure of perfection at Marcus Wareing, which had made our meals there good, but not so relaxing. It makes a big difference. Clearly there’s a lot of technique in the food, but I didn’t find it over the top of detracting from the flavours, which is good since the British produce is excellent. It’s terrific value, so it would be rude not to give it a go.

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One Response to “Alyn Williams, London”

  1. karohemd Says:

    Alyn Williams definitely is on my list this year, I have only heard good things and a fine dining tasting menu at that price in central London is a bargain.

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