Alyn Williams was the head chef at Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley when it won its two Michelin stars before setting up his own restaurant in 2011. I’ve been wanting to try it for a while and when The Better Half (TBH) and I came up with the Michelin Star Experiment, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to visit.
The restaurant is located within The Westbury Hotel in Mayfair. With rosewood lining the walls, silver-threaded carpets and a central private dining room surrounded by the temperature-controlled wine ‘salon’, it’s plush!
I don’t normally write about the amuse bouche (small appetiser to tease the palate in English) because you don’t get one in every restaurant. But as I’m trying to distinguish the difference between one, two and three Michelin starred restaurants, I thought I would include it so that I can compare every aspect of the experience. On this occasion we had a choux pastry filled with blue cheese and Parmesan. I enjoyed the strong flavour of blue cheese and the pastry was as light as a feather. I could’ve easily eaten a whole lot more!
TBH loves soup and he really fancied some on this day. When he spotted a prawn taco and green soup on the a la carte menu, we asked to have this as additional course. The soft tortilla encased a large, lightly spiced prawn and the green soup – avocado in this case – was packed full of flavour and really refreshing. It was delicious and I’m glad we had this added to the menu.
To start I had the Orkney scallops with spring onion and herb risotto. The plump scallops were well cooked and added a lovely texture to the creamy risotto. I have never tried spring onion in risotto before, but I am definitely going to try and replicate this at home.
TBH had the coddled egg, peas, créme fraiche and truffle to start. I really liked the presentation of this dish! The truffle ‘soldiers’ cut through the richness of the egg and créme fraiche. It was a great combination.
For my main course I had the roasted lamb neck, stuffed courgettes and green olive tapenade. On paper, this dish sounds ideal to me as I love all the component parts. But in reality it was just nice. It could’ve done with another crack of seasoning and the meat could’ve been more tender, but I enjoyed the freshness of the tomatoes and courgettes and the piquancy of the green olive tapenade.
TBH ordered the grilled beef rib cap, chimichuri couscous and beef fat vegetables. The meat was well cooked and the beef fat vegetables were totally sublime – full of flavour and still retaining their bite. The crispy seaweed on top of the beef adding texture and seasoning, a really interesting addition to the dish that worked really well.
I had the elderflower pannecotta with macerated kiwi and pink lemonade for dessert. I enjoyed it because it wasn’t overly sweet and in particular I loved the tartness of the pink lemonade. The almond brittle reminded me of a brittle that I used to love to eat as a child in South Africa. I must track some down!
For his dessert, TBH ordered the white chocolate mousse, black olive caramel, cherries and yoghurt. He was a little sceptical of the black olive caramel, but when our waiter came to collect his plate, he made a pretty bold statement. This had been the best dessert he’s had all year…possibly even ever!
We finished with a couple of delicious caramel and Turkish delight truffles.
Service was professional and polite and being seated quite near the kitchen, I liked hearing ‘yes chef!’ punctuate the quiet dining room from time to time. Our total bill came to £146.25 which included service, drinks and an additional course. The set menu is priced at £35.00 per head. All in all, we had a lovely lunch and it was a great way to start our Michelin experiment. Next up is the two star experience at Hélène Darroze at The Connaught Hotel.
Until we eat again!