Before we talk of the food, a few thoughts on the room for it attracts much attention whenever the restaurant is discussed. We like it. Key for us is just how comfortable it is. Comfortable chairs, good spacing between tables and a classic fine dining finish lend it an old fashioned luxury though some modern touches around the room, not least the floor to ceiling wine display lend it a contemporary feel. Maybe it is not what’s in fashion right now where even the likes of Tom Aikens has ripped out the table cloths in a contradictory styled-natural look, but given the quality of food and service at Alyn Williams, the room is in harmony with the offering and that we think is more appropriate than following trends.
Foodwise, it is again the fantastic value tasting menu, still just £55 making it surely the best value fine dining in Mayfair. There’s the usual early pre menu treats: Fourme d'Ambert gougeres, prawn crackers, truffled risotto balls and bread assortment, after which the menu is delivered up. We start with a divine Parmesan panna cotta with candied sweet onion. There’s real clarity to the Parmesan taste of the panna cotta, and that ability to showcase flavours is evident throughout the meal, a hallmark of Alyn's cooking.
Paired with Alyn’s technical ability is also a keen focus on sourcing quality ingredients, mostly soured from the British Isles: Cornwall, Devon and Scotland provide much of what’s on today’s menu. Scallops from Scotland are of the highest quality, sourced from Keltic Seafare who similarly supplied scallops for James Knappett at our recent charity dinner where that quality was similarly evident. Alyn here pairs them with a Sea Urchin sauce, itself a mini masterpiece. That's true too of the nettle tortellini and sweetbreads as tender as you could ever hope to come across.
There’s salmon on the menu too, something we would not normally order a la carte just because few places do anything exceptional with it; Alyn of course does. Teaming the salmon with grapefruit, pumpernickel crutons, seabeets and miso, it becomes a real treat, especially with a little bit of everything on the fork.
Desserts too are always original and often playful, today, a little homage to Rolo (remember 'do you love anyone enough to give them your last Rolo?'). The Rolo here is richer and more powerful, a Michelin Rolo if you will, paired with baked apple and hazelnut ice cream, all fabulous.
Alyn Williams is an extremely talented chef who is in the kitchen every day. At the end of service, we have regularly seen him walking the restaurant floor talking to diners gathering feedback on the meal. And with the pressure of opening now behind him, an already excellent restaurant will in our view continue to improve over the next couple of years.
Alyn Williams has been the driver behind award winning kitchens of others over the past decade, and with his own name now above the door, his food deserves Michelin stars of its own which without doubt will come in time. With a tasting menu that is half the price of its nearest neighbours, for us, in Mayfair, it is simply the obvious choice.
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Alyn Williams at The Westbury Dec 2011