Tuesday, March 05, 2013

A Birthday Celebration at Alyn Williams

Unless we're travelling for our birthdays (see Keenan's 29th in Syria; my 29th in Rio de Janiero; Keenan's 31st in Borneo), Keenan and I usually celebrate our birthdays doing one of our favourite things: eating. This year was no exception. I picked Alyn Williams at The Westbury Hotel for a celebratory birthday dinner. Unfortunately, Keenan was just recovering from the stomach flu, which needless to say ruined his dining experience but I enjoyed the food and service of Alyn Williams. 

After working as the Head Chef at the 2-starred Michelin Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley for half a decade, Alyn Williams opened his own restaurant at The Westbury Hotel. The decor was sophisticated with lots of soft plush furniture, neutral/warm hues, and spacious, but a bit on the stuffy side for me. The service was attentive as in the waiters will re-fold your napkin when you leave the table. Within a year and half of opening, Alyn Williams was awarded with a Michelin staff. Talk about a track record.

We opted for the 7 course tasting menu for
£60 and in honour of my Californian roots, we ordered a bottle of Le Crema Pinot Noir from Sonoma (yes, we do miss Napa Valley). We started off with gougères, fluffy savory cheese bread, similar to Brazilian pao de quesjo. The basket of freshly baked bread were delicious each 'paired' with its own butter -- aniseed-infused bread, potato bread (with actual chunks of potato) and crispy flatbread. 

Everything tasted as lovely as it was presented. We started off with Crab/pot au feu/milk/celery crisp served in a martini glass in which the crab infusion was poured directly at the table. The celery crisps were interesting contrast of textures and flavour, each with a drop of cream cheese. Then is was on to the Orkney scallop/cuttlefish/mint/caraway with a hint of squid black ink. Delicious and unbelievably fresh. 

Then it was on to the Marinated quail/smoked egg/baked potato/pickled red cabbage. I'm a huge fan of quail, and this one did not disappoint. The next dish was the Cod/coco beans/pastis/winter truffle, another excellent dish. Initially, I though the coco bean was an odd touch but it worked great. For the main meat dish, Keenan got the Devon ruby red sirloin/boulangere/turnip/pied de mouton/scurvy grass whilst I ordered the 50 day aged middle white pork/quince/chicory/parsnip/
liquorice. Both were good but we enjoyed the seafood-based dishes better. 

It was now on to the desserts -- yes plural plus a birthday cake compliments of Alyn Williams. Ice cream aside, I don't have a big sweet tooth and could forgo dessert. We started off with the Cornish cheesecake/Clementine/
honeycomb with a dab of citrus granita. Refreshing and delicious, even coming from someone who doesn't like cheesecake. The main dessert was Acorn crème Catalan/pear/pine/winter truffle tuile, a salty caramel dessert, and espresso chocolates -- sugar overload, but a completely delicious birthday dinner, even with a side order of the stomach flu. 


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