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Alyn Williams at the Westbury
August 26, 2016
Industry leading chefs don’t tend to mention their past job experiences, as they prefer to focus on their present ventures. However, it is often handy to discover their past to understand the culmination of their style of cooking. Alyn Williams has been a much-loved part of the London culinary scene for numerous years. He has previously worked with Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing; the latter as head chef at the renowned 2 Michelin starred establishment at The Berkeley. Of course, for Alyn the greater achievement is getting a Michelin star for his own restaurant; Alyn Williams at the Westbury.
Situated in the heart of Mayfair, the location is ideal for their upscale, modern and affluent clientele. The restaurant, much like the hotel, is quietly elegant and understated. Such venues are rare these days, where outrageously decadent designs or pared-back minimalism prevails. The most stunning part of the room is undoubtedly the wine salon in the centre, which is surrounded by a floor to ceiling glass case featuring some of the world’s finest wines. Conventions are reversed here, where food will be matched to the wine you choose.
Seasonality is taken very seriously, with the menu changing every two months, so even innovative favourites like Williams’ deconstructed onion soup disappear off the a la carte menu. Glazed veal sweetbread & meatballs might sound like a distinctly heavy starter, but this heavenly version is presented in a finely prepared portion with a great depth to the richness of the sweetbread. There is careful textural contrast with salt baked celeriac, celery, apple and hazelnuts. A dish of Orkney scallops is beautifully plated with white peach, carrot salad and miso.
Sourcing premium produce is also a key part of Alyn Williams’ success. At his restaurant, Devon Ruby Beef is used, which has the perfect balance between fat and meat and has top quality marbling, texture, flavour and tenderness. Whilst popular in France, not many restaurants in London offer a tartare version of the meat alongside the cooked version. The confit potatoes are petit and buttery whilst the sherry vinegar gives the dish a vibrant kick.
Pavlova don’t often appear on chef’s menus, because making them well is a taxing proposition. Williams’ raspberry Pavlova with sweet cicely ice cream has a perfectly formed crisp crust, whilst the inside is elegantly soft and delicate. The raspberries along with the sweet cicely delivers a distinctly summery sweet ending to the meal. With most of his dishes, there is a strong classical French base alongside some progressive innovations using the latest seasonal ingredients.
Whilst not officially advertised, the flexible kitchen team will accept 3 course a la carte choices off their lengthier tasting menu. What is particularly commendable is a carefully crafted vegetarian tasting menu; as often neglected vegetarian guests get offered limited choices when they dine out. This would never happen in Alyn Williams’ restaurant, given his wife is a vegetarian.
The food is refined and thoughtfully progressive, the classical dining space serenely elegant and with faultless restaurant service, Alyn Williams is more likely to be gaining Michelin stars than losing one anytime soon.
Words by Baldwin Ho
Photography by John Carey