Alyn Williams at the Westbury [London]
New opening from the man who was head chef at Marcus Wareing.
Lovely room, very reminiscent of the Berkeley actually. Absolutely stunning service - they let us sub in any ALC dishes (including a langoustine starter) or any vegetarian tasting menu dishes into the main tasting menu.
At the moment they are running what I can only assume is introductory prices, £55 for a 7-course+ tasting menu must be the best value fayn dayning in London at the moment.
I was consciously not taking notes but some excellent dishes: crab, ox cheek with a cold onion consomme in a martini glass, then my girlfriend had a langoustine and apple dish while I had scallops with celeriac, oyster and caviar. Then dorset snails.
A red mullet with malt and vegetables was ever so slightly undercooked but would have been the standout dish otherwise. Then the classic rib of beef sous-vided to perfection.
We got an extra vegetarian gnocci dish, which was stunning and actually the highlight.
Very generous cheese plate, brilliant pre-dessert of granite and custard and a seventh course I've forgotten.
Overall this was a superb experience, one of those head: 9/10 heart 7/10 ones. Service flawless apart from mild upselling on the wine.
The cooking is also very-nearly-almost flawless and at the price point is basically ridiculous value.
i went, i ate and i liked it!
we went for the tasting menu which is still £55 (at both lunch and dinner) and you are still able to swap courses between the standard and vegetarian tasting menu and the alc menu.
there wasn't a bad course* but my favourites were:
- a take on french onion soup - a martini glass is filled with crab meat, topped with a layer of beef jelly and some beef cheek and then topped up with an onion consomme; on the side were little nibbles of gruyere sandwiched between potato wafers
- walnut gnocchi with beet, baby fennel and a wonderfully intense cheese custard (subbed from the veggie menu)
- pre-dessert of a creme catalan with a pear and pine granita - this combination worked suprisingly well!
- chocolate-coated caramel with peanut icecream
* there was a deconstructed passion fruit cheesecake added as an extra course, from the chef, but i'm not a cheesecake fan so was never going to like that very much
with this we had a jurancon sec which the wine waiter was so pleased we had chosen (a favourite of his, he said, and great value for us) and a dessert wine that wasn't on the menu (it tasted of ripe pineapple which was very wonderful).
re: abby d
Ate there a couple months ago, and what impressed me most food-wise from the tasting menu was the roast chicken done perfectly, flavoursome, moist, tender, with crisp skin. Good support from a smoked egg. Sounds "simple" but truly an exemplary display of refined and careful cooking. The kind of stuff I would go back for in a heart beat.
Some of the more "inventive" things were not as successful. Fish that was cooked sous vide was mushy. The batons of foie gras semi freddo, while pretty to look at, compromised the flavour of the foie gras by the cold temperature, the delicious smoky richness coming up only after the foie has warmed up.
But on the whole a good deal if one is careful on the wine, which seem to have the high hotel-level markups.
Awesome, thanks for the review, might try it soon
If you're looking for more ridiculous values, Trinity in Clapham has a 6 course tasting for £45 -- the recent butter-sous vided halibut with crab tortelli was outstanding. The real value, however lies in their chef's cellar section of the wine list, with various excellent vintages sold without markup (only includes VAT and corkage according to the menu). Given that many places markup wines by 2-3x, the relative savings for a bottle could be more than the cost of the meal.
Thanks Limster, yes I've not been to Trinity but heard excellent things about their cooking.
I interrogated the chef's cellar wine list and there are some incredible bargains on it. Although there is some very odd pricing in there too so I would recommend doing your research on it before going.
It's certainly better than other places, the Hand and Flowers have a special wine list which they claim not to mark up as much but which in fact still hit 3 x retail.