A stylish, calm dining room – front of house staff who have a passionate understanding of their work – intriguing menus that balance classic technique with innovative flavours. These are the hallmarks of an exquisite dining experience, delivered at Hélène Darozze at the Connaught and Le Relais Louis XIII in Paris. Alyn Williams at the Westbury delivers on them too.
The scene is set with a selection of faultless mis-en-bouches. Delicate blue cheese gougères, melting cèpe macaroons with beef tatare, and a refreshing spoonful of langoustine laced with clementine – and things only get better.
Sweetbreads are a tricky thing to get right. They should always be melting in the middle and normally crisped up in a pan for contrast. Though Williams creates an Asian effect by enveloping the offal in a rich, thick sweet and sour glaze. Crunch instead, comes from fresh cucumber. A dehydrated snow and a cream of peanut butter adds a nutty note while a swipe of hibiscus gives a sweet finish. Outstanding.
The turbot main is also a masterclass in flavour combinations. Braised to keep the meaty fish moist, the accompanying cream sauce has a hint of orange, which is an inspired blend that we’ve also seen at l’Angelique in Versailles. With buttery fish and acidity covered, earthy sweet flavours come from the roasted parsnip and a bitter touch from the Italian chicory. Another superb piece of cooking.
And there is no let-up in the creativity or standards for dessert. The chocolate mousse with dark chocolate shards and soil is topped with an intense tamarillo sorbet. A flavour not normally seen in the UK, but common to New Zealand. Imagine passion fruit acidity with red berry depth. The dishes richness comes from a bed of vanilla crème and hints of cinnamon give some winter warmth.
Though it’s not just the food that deserves an accolade at Alyn Williams; the service too is top level too. The whole team is charming and knowledgeable.
Which leads me to the only problem with eating in wonderful restaurants like this. Alyn Williams delivers such high standards that it makes it all too easy to pick holes in restaurants that are supposed to deliver the same. I suppose there are worse problems to have in life.