Alyn Williams at the Westbury: Fine dining the way it should be done
The joy of eating a wonderful, wonderful dish. Isn’t that one of the reasons why we go out for a meal?
The first time I was at Alyn Williams was for my birthday in 2013. It was good, solid, refined. Fast-forward six years, everything is better, more solid, more refined. The dining room speaks of comfort and fine dining; the tables are spacious and the white tablecloth is grand, the napkins held inside gorgeous Murano glass rings. Trends are left at the door.
Guests who are interested in a tasting menu also have a vegetarian one available; it’s not a “vegetarian option”, the chef developed it thinking of his wife who had too many underwhelming experiences even at high-end restaurants. We omnivores, though, still prefer the “regular” one.
The amuse-bouches and a glass of champagne by Nicolas Fetizon (mostly pinot noir, which makes it sharper and more structured) kick off our dinner with delight. The little crab tartlets with caviar stand out from the assortment.
A refreshing Orkney scallop with grapefruit and watermelon follow suit; the presentation is not outstanding but the fine balance between ingredients make up for it; the flavours intensify with the grilled Cornish prawn. The first elaborate course comes with the halibut – Cornish, too – and it’s brilliant. The fish cooked to perfection, with shrimps and crunchy hazelnut, and a fresh parsley sauce.
Williams is a capable chef who strives to utilise local produce and in-season ingredients. He knows how to put together a great dish but what he achieves with the 1/2 Native Lobster Tail goes beyond that. It’s a supplement but it’s worth every penny. The iconic crustacean’s tail is sublime – tender and intense despite being delicate; it lies in the middle of the dish, with a delicious bisque around it and a quenelle of courgette and basil to make it lighter. On the left of the plate, a serious amount of caviar adds a sapid (and luxurious) touch.
Because we are two and enjoy trying different things, we also pick the supplement from the vegetarian menu, a nicely cooked risotto with Australian black truffle. We continue with the pork jowl and the House Salad. Our final course before the cheese and desserts is a classic, the Herdwick Lamb; served medium-rare, we love how well it goes with the red berry aroma of its paired wine – Il Bruciato, the little brother of super Tuscan Guado al Tasso.
A palate cleanser of lemon sorbet, meringue and sorrel paves the way for the strawberry and clotted cream dessert. After a long meal, these two refreshing sweet dishes are very welcome. And if you are after chocolate you’ll just have to wait for the petit fours.
Alyn Williams at the Westbury is a restaurant where you want to spend time enjoying great food in a luxurious yet relaxed environment – never ostentatious or opulent. There are carefully selected wines at every price point and you’ll always feel looked after. Here the level of service, cooking and quality of the produce match like the best pairing.
★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
To book a table at Alyn Williams at the Westbury, 37 Conduit Street W1S 2YF, call 020 7183 6426 or visit their website here.