None of this should be too much of a surprise however to those who know Alyn, for he's been cooking at the two Michelin star level for some time. Even if you don't instantly recognise the name Alyn Williams, there's a good chance you have in fact already eaten his food, for he was previously Head Chef at Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley and Petrus before that.
The Westbury too might also be a new venue to many though it's been around for some time, though fails to enjoy the profile of its Mayfair rivals. Located on the corner of Conduit Street and New Bond Street, it is mostly familiar to locals for cocktails at the Polo Bar. The owners, keen to raise the profile, have undertaken a substantial investment in the hotel and know that to put a Mayfair hotel on the map, you need a restaurant of a calibre that can match the best of what's out there right now, and so Alyn William at The Westbury came to life.
With it being early days for the restaurant and a depressing economic backdrop, the restaurant has cleverly paired quality with value: three courses a la carte will set you back £45 and there's a three course set lunch menu for £24. The real bargain though is the seven course tasting menu at just £55. By comparison, the eight course tasting menu at The Square, no more than 200 yards away, will set you back £105, and you will not, take our word for it on this, feel this is a lesser meal in any way.
On a quiet Monday lunch service, having chosen the tasting menu, Chef Alyn was kind enough to showcase to us a few more dishes than the standard meal; with everything so good, we're glad he did. With so many plates, we wont labour the words here but invite you to enjoy the picture show below while picking out a few highlights along the way.
The three amuses were simply delightful, his signature Fourme d'Ambert gougeres (super light and super cheesy), prawn crackers (with prawn and tom yum mayonnaise) and beautiful truffle risotto balls. The bread selection encompasses potato sour dough, lavash, and beer & star anise rolls, served with whipped caraway butter or more traditional English salted.
Cauliflower panna cotta follows dressed with textures of cauliflower, and takes cauliflower to the next level. The beautiful creamy panna cotta is dressed with various textures including shredded fried leaves, and pickled rib of the cabbage leaf, over which rests a shaving of acorn. The most delectable cream cheese wafers are served alongside. Following this is a venison tartare (see the picture for the full description); it's another winner.
The final main, Devon red beef sirloin is one of the genuinely tastiest cuts of beef we can remember having this year. The flavour here is intrinsic, not imparted to it by a high temperature grill and an outside char, but simply the quality of the beef precisely cooked. At Wolfgang Puck's CUT, a single steak will set you back more than the whole meal at Alyn Williams yet none of the beef we ate on our visit to Cut came close to being as good as this.
Desserts at Alyn Williams are also nicely original. A pre dessert of creme catalan and pear granita is so nice it make you wish you could super-size it. After that, there's an Asian themed dish with banana in lapsang tea. The last dessert of baked apples and blackberry is not quite the final bite as all meals end up with Alyn's chocolate and coffee truffles, available to take away if you're too full to manage after all that you have eaten.
As we've already said, Alyn Williams has been cooking 2 star quality food for many years now and his time off between the Berkeley and opening the doors at The Westbury provided opportunity for Alyn to take in the restaurant scene around the UK as it currently stands; he used the time to good effect. The result is that Alyn Williams at The Westbury provides the perfect contemporary take on fine dining: modern food underpinned by classical technique, a stylish but comfortable venue, and service that is faultlessly professional but friendly, never stuffy. Wine pairings too by Alex Gilbert, ex-Dinner by Heston Blumenthal were similarly faultless throughout and offer similar value as the food.
We simply loved our meal here and fully expect Alyn Williams at The Westbury to be a major and influential addition to the London restaurant scene over the coming year. This was for us one of the very best tasting menus of 2011 and without hesitation we group it in the same company as The Ledbury and The Kitchin. So, if come the new year you want to eat like a king but don't want to break the bank, head to Alyn Williams at The Westbury, the new face of fine dining in the capital.
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