Saturday, 16 November 2013

Alyn Williams At The Westbury

Right time to write up another great meal out this time at Alyn Williams at the Westbury, having arrived I was stunned at how beautiful the dining room is.

We decided to go for the tasting menu and let the sommelier pick a glass of wine for each of us to match the early courses and a glass each to match the mains as my dining partner and myself had chosen to have 1 each of the main choices.

The meal started with great bread, caraway butter and lovely light canap├ęs 
including tempura peppers and airy cheese gougeres. 


 These where followed by our first course of –

Crab/Pot au feu/milk/Celery crisp,
This was full flavour, light, brilliantly fresh and vibrant.


Orkney scallop/Cuttlefish/Caraway/Mint 
came next and was mind blowing in its simplicity but packed an almighty punch.



The course that followed was not on the tasting menu but turned out to be one of my favorite dishes from the meal –

Heritage tomato/wasabi/radish
When a tomato taste as good as these did you don’t need to do a lot to them but the finesse the kitchen showed with this dish put any other tomato dish I have had in the shade.



Marinated quail/Smoked egg/Baked potato/Pickled red cabbage
Again brilliant flavours and clever use of textures to create a balanced and properly tasty dish.



Cured salmon/Peas/radish/Summer truffle
If not the best dish of the day a very very close second. Clean, bright and salmon cooked with great precision.




















Next where the 2 main courses,

Devon ruby red sirloin and cheek/Turnips/Sand carrots/Croutons
&
Char grilled dry aged pork/River kennet crayfish/White asparagus

Beautifully cooked sirloin, tender melting cheeks and carrots with an incredible flavour.



But for me the pork was the highlight of the whole meal, sweet succulent loin and belly pork, crisp skin, perfect crayfish, butter roasted white asparagus and a light jus was just awesome.



Cornish cheesecake/Pineapple/Timur pepper/Cereal
This was our pre dessert and like the rest of the meal it was full of flavour, clever in the way it was presented.



Our final course –
Chocolate cake/masala/Mascarpone/Passion fruit
Simple In design and plating but it was wicked, warm and satisfying.





I have included the images of the wines we tasted all 4 where very nice but the Alberino stood out to me as something abit different and was very nice.














So to sum up the meal was awesome, Alyn was nice enough to come out and say hello and spend a few minutes chatting. He seemed at ease and very happy with the way life is going at the moment.
The service we received was top draw; the gentleman that served us was knowledgeable about the menus and Alyn’s style of cooking and was relaxed and looked like he really enjoyed his job.


Remember live to eat don’t eat to live

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Alimentum


I would like to start this with a thank you to Mark Poyton and his team at Alimentum for an incredible birthday lunch and also a sorry as this was back in march and I should have posted about it before now (sorry mate).

I was lucky enough to meet mark when I worked with him on his course for Kai we care back in 2011 and had wanted to go to Alimentum since then, I finally made it down to Cambridge for my birthday this year. As my wife has a couple of allergies I was in contact with Mark about this before our meal and when we arrived I couldn’t wait to see what we would be having.

I am not 100% sure of all the dishes we had as Mark cooked us what he had planned and I never saw a menu but will do my best to remember them, Mark had managed to work out a meal where lizzie and I had a nearly identical meal with only subtle changes to accommodate lizzies allergies.


Some dishes didn’t even make the camera as I couldn't wait to try them. just before we get to the pictures, Mark I'm sorry if the descriptions are wrong and if you can give me the menu descriptions i will put them right on here.



Salmon, broccoli, puffed rice & yogurt sorbet

Crisp, clean flavours a prelude to what was to come 



Heritage carrot salad

The absolute highlight of my meal, amazing carrots that showed what can be achieved with real skill with seasoning and bringing the best out an ingredient. It was served with a goats cheese ice cream, awesome on its own better with a mix of carrots.




Halibut, pumpkin seeds, butternut, savoy & trompette mushrooms

This was lizzie's favourite course, beautifully cooked fish with the seeds adding texture as well as flavour the trompettes adding an earthiness to the dish.



Beef and onions

Perfectly cooked beef with ragu of oxtail, bone marrow and onions cooked in a variety of ways including puree, roast onion and crispy fried onions. this was a plate full of flavour and skill balancing the huge flavour in the oxtail ragu and the richness of bone marrow the different taste and textures of the onions. To me this was a masterclass in putting a main course together, everything on the dish deserved to be there and nothing was there for show.



Pear & rhubarb 

A very elegant dish to finish the meal of pear and rhubarb both done a couple of ways, fresh pear, pear sorbet, poached rhubarb, rhubarb gel and i think brown butter powder. as with everything i ate that lunch it was beautifully presented, full of flavour and original.



Just to finish i would like to add that the service was bang on, the guys really do sell the restaurant and marks vision for it brilliantly. To say i enjoyed my meal is an understatement i will defiantly be going back in the evening at some point to do the full on tasting menu and i suggest if you have not been you get down there, it is defiantly worth a journey thats for sure.


Remember live to eat don't eat to live






Tuesday, 29 October 2013

New challenge and thanks

So after nearly 4 years at the Best Western Ship hotel it's time to move on, the next chapter in my career is set to be the biggest challenge by far. This post is not about my new job or about the ship but with the amount of time spent looking to for my next step I realised how many people have helped me get this far, and I just wanted to thank them. 

First up is a chef called Neil Wackrill, he was my chef for 9 years and showed me that there was more to cooking than pushing big numbers in Brighton seafront hotels, under his guidance I rose from what I considered a good young cook to his senior sous chef at a large country house hotel, taking in some amazing events and fantastic times between 2001 and 2010. He gave me the courage to cook my own food and encourage the whole brigade to use there own ideas and create not to copy what everyone else was doing. 

The other chefs I want to thank are Ben Miller who I consider the best cook I have ever had the pleasure of working with full time, watching his passion and drive at Lythe hill hotel inspired my to push on as hard as possible and The French Maestro Christophe Ferraro for taking me under his wing and also giving me a proper hard time but teaching me some invaluable life and cooking lessons, he is also responsibale for my ridiculous cookbook addiction I have, after showing me - cooking by the sea by Danny Horseele I knew I had to have it and have bought a monstrous amount since ( cheers frenchy game of caps later with miller) 
 
Also my first sous chefs at the Thisle hotel, Brighton 
Gary Thompson and Andrew Farrell, Andy was a proper task master but was fair and hard a drive that made you want to work hard for him and to succeed in making the sort of food we did there.

Gary was different in his approach to training me but taught me what I needed to know so that I could learn the rest throughout my career, he also was the voice of reason in a very macho kitchen snd all the apprentices really loved him for that. I'm still learning now big man 

Finally 
Lizzie my amazing wife that has put up with the life a chefs partner has to deal with, not seeing each other at Christmas, Mother's Day, birthdays and all those other celebrations and events that most 
people take for granted. She has always encouraged me to push myself and believe that whatever you want you can get and for that support I am forever grateful. I love you Lizzie

So thank you to the people above for helping to shape the chef and person I am today. 

I know today's post is not what I normally write about and normal service shall be resumed very soon as I have amazing meals at Mark poytons Alimentum and Alyn Williams at the westbury to post about.



Remember live to eat don't eat to live



Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Im Back



Hello everyone, well it’s been nearly 6 months since I posted on here and what a hectic 6 months it has been. At work we have been getting busier and busier whilst trying to push the food offering forward, to help this and to give me a bit more freedom we have stated to do one of tasting menu events. The last one was my take on burns night which went down a treat with our guests and a really good night was had by all involved. 

What else is there to say, not a lot really the team and I are knocking out great food in my opinion and are pushing to make us the place to eat in Weybridge. I am writing this as I take a break from writing the menu changes for the coming weeks with spring just around the corner we are already seeing wild garlic and there are lots more exciting produce just round the corner. I am looking forward to getting my hands on some local asparagus again this year from either Crockford bridge farm (http://www.crockfordbridgefarm.co.uk) or Garson’s Farm (http://www.garsons.co.uk/c/esher-farm-shop/) last year we got some cracking vegetables from both and the selection in both shops is great.

Last year we served our asparagus very simply, we blanched it for 1 minute in heavily salted water then refreshed in plenty of iced water to retain its brilliant green colour and fresh flavour. It was then chargrilled and served with a poached duck egg, wild garlic oil and shaved Cornish yarg a really good spring starter that went down well with our guests. We will be bringing that back this year but are currently working on some tweaks for it.

Whilst being busy at work  I have still found time to eat out at a few places most notably I have been back to Michael Wignall at The Latymer, Pennyhill park (http://www.pennyhillpark.co.uk/EXCLUSIVE_HOTELS/eating_and_drinking/the_latymer.aspx) . I said when I first went that it deserved 2 stars in my opinion and since that post it has been awarded its second star so massive congratulations to Michael and his team. That meant that I had to go back and eat again, it did not disappoint the meal was flawless, my favorite dish was

“Lightly Salted Cod, Textures Of Cauliflower”
Which as you can see was treated to a good covering of black truffle.





I also went back to Drakes in Ripley (http://www.drakesrestaurant.co.uk).I think the food that Steve is producing is among the best around, incredible flavours, brilliant presentation and executed perfectly and to boot he is a real gentleman, I am really looking forward to staging there very soon. The highlight of my last meal at Drakes was

“Pork Belly Cooked in Masterstock, Quince, Langoustine”
Awesome plate of food.



Right well I will try not leave it so long to post again. With my birthday next week and a lunch booked at Mark Poynton’s, Restaurant Alimentum I’m sure I will have something to talk about and some pictures to share.

Thank you

Remember live to eat don’t eat to live