Where: Alyn Williams at The Westbury, Mayfair London.
When: Saturday 2nd May from 1-4pm
Atmosphere: Dark wood fittings and deep forest green furnishings you felt like you’d walked into a luxurious library but instead of bookshelves there are beautifully built-in wine racks with clear glass frontages so that you can have a good nose around.
Discrete opulence – not a hint of ostentation – lovely plump comfortable armchairs, for me the piece de resistance were (randomly) the napkin rings which were heavy-duty amber coloured glass affairs.
The best service I have ever been privileged to enjoy. The sommelier magically appeared and circulated with the waiting staff proffering expert and interesting details on the food and wine we were being served. At a count I’d say there was about six people attending our table but there was no hint of intrusion or overbearing attention. Sublime service with a smile.
Aperetif was a lovely bubbling glass of Pol Roger, Brut Reserve which was sharp and fruity A perfect accompaniment to pursuing the menus.
Amuse-bouches came in the form of choux pastry filled with a delicate blue cheese mousse and a bread basket which was sublime and still warm from the oven.
1. Marinated langoustine/mackerel/scallop/kiwi/cucumber/arrow grass
The plate was beautiful three exact strips of each of the fish sat on top of delicate pieces of kiwi and cucumber. Usually, I’m not a fan of fruit with my savoury but the kiwi brought all the flavours together. First to hit was the rich buttery avocado mousse which was then cut through by a sharp acidity of kiwi finishing up with the fresh tastes of the sea.
Wine: Riseling (Chateua Bela & Egon Muller) from Slovakia – extremely fruity on the nose and provided a surprisingly buttery partner.
2. Cornish Monkfish/Morels/Cucumber
Meaty piece of fish perfectly cooked sat atop an earthy, course, mushroom puree – an inspired contrast to the previous fish dish.
Wine: Malvasia, Istria Croatia I’ve never really tried Croatian wine but this was sharp and refreshing cutting through the mushrooms and providing a compliment to the lighter flavoured fish.
3. Frozen aerated foie gras/beetroot/sour cherries/pistachio
Phenomenal. The foie gras looked a bit like a sea anemone in texture or perhaps a sponge, as it hit your tongue it was an enjoyable cold shock which then melted into its trademark creamy texture. It was original and playful on the palate with the richness then cut through by the sharpness of cherry and beetroot.
Wine: Moscatel, La Cigarra like it’s food partner this was a fun, bubbly, pink affair with generous flavours of berries without being overbearingly sweet.
4. Barbequed Holstein tartare/Mersea oyster/mustards/grelot
The oyster was poached and had the texture of a plump mussel and the tartare was woody – a very refined and memorable take on surf and turf.
Wine: Wasn’t wine. Old Ford Export Stout, Redchurch Brewery (Shoreditch) was a surprising but inspired choice by the sommelier.The appearance of an espresso martini in a wine glass the stout gave a deep earth flavour with hints of the very same coffee.
5. Welsh spring lamb/niçoise/tomato/tagette (Or you could have had Pigeon)
By this point I am running out of words for delicious and tasty so I leave you with simply the vision of me with eyes closed making yummy noises and the knowledge that tomatoes – apparently British – can have flavour like bursts of sunshine.
Wine: Chateau, La Gasparde Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux robust deep flavours and fruit on the nose perfection.
(NB: My dining partner had the pigeon which was equally delightful partnered with a wine that tasted nice but smelt like manure – this was highlighted by the sommelier with a chuckle)
6. Meyer lemon/caramel popcorn/vanilla
Served in a tiny little sauce pan this palate cleanser was sharp without being eye-wateringly so with textures and flavours that resembled an upside down creme brûlée.
7. Manjari chocolate/candied orange/yoghurt
Chocolate and orange are a match made in heaven. The various textures of the candied and fresh orange pieces gave a sweetness to the bitter chocolate – which was erring on the slightly too solid side.
Wine: Sherry, Manzanilla Pasada, ‘Pastrana’ Hidalgo provided further flavours of orange and nuts without being saccarchine.
Rich and strong espresso were brought and accompanied by: little mango tartlets with a meringue carefully perched, salted caramel truffles and a turkish delight.
Price: Credit Card Busting
(£130 per person for tasting menu with matched wines + £30 for 2 glasses of champagne + £10 for 2 espresso = £345 inc. 12.5% VAT)
Rating: 10 out of 10 – given the price (for us this is) definitely a treat but an exceptional one and one that will be revisited in the near future… hopefully.