In photosMore pictures
When I discovered that you could get some great wines to eat with Indian food I don’t think I’ve ever gone out of my way to order a beer in a restaurant ever again, this isn’t to say that I’ve gone off beer (far from it) but your standard lagers in a hotel bar aren’t going to be a great match for food unless you’re lucky enough to find a place selling Estrella Damm Inedit. Some restaurant seem to be keen to buck the trend of only having wine with food so seeing a high-class tasting menu matched with beer sounded like something I couldn’t not go for!
I also had very high hopes for the food and would have come here regardless of beer being served or not as chef Alyn, after learning his trade for the past 5 years fronting up the kitchen at The Berkley under the name of Marcus Wareing is someone I’ve heard great things about from a number of fellow bloggers and food critics. His self-named restaurant is pride of place in The Westbury Hotel in Mayfair and when we visited we received a warm welcome from the front of house, enjoyed a cocktail at the bar and enjoyed the 7 course menu with beer for me and wine for Ella.
We started things off with a delicate crab dish – a small piece of crab topped with a milk puree, meaty consume with a couple of smoked bacon buns on the side, it was a nice clean tasting dish but rather over-shadowed by the second course of scallop, pumpkin and cuttlefish. Taking what I’m guessing was inspiration from Koffmanns the cuttlefish was served as thin pasta-like ribbons on which the scallop (charred on top, tender and juicy in the middle sat proud until I started cutting through it with my knife. The small chunks of pumpkin and fried marjoram provided some extra taste highlights where needed but the stars of the show shone through and provided a dish to remember and we were only on the second course.
Next up we had two of my favourite foods – foie gras and beetroot. Unfortunately the foie was served up as a semi-fredo and personally I don’t think that’s the best way to treat it as you loose a lot of the richness and taste you get when served ‘au natural’, it did go nicely with the beetroot though and did a good job matching up to it’s strong earthy taste. Following this we had cod, topped with truffle shavings and sat on a bed of bean stew – the fish was cooked great but nothing about this dish really jumped out at me, it was certainly hugely edible but it kinda was what it was.
After going mad in the first couple of paragraphs about the beer matching you’ve probably noticed that I’ve not mentioned any up to now; unfortunately none were really that inspired and a bit boring, there were IPA’s, wheat beer, a light ale but alas they didn’t really add anything to the food up to the main course of devon ruby sirlion which all in all was THE dish of the night and certainly something worthy of repeat custom. A perfect pink cooked cut of beef was served with numerous stock and butter infused chanterelles and joined by what might well be near mash potato perfection; AND matched with a smoked beer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoked_beer#Bamberg_Rauchbier) that made the beef taste like it had just come off a BBQ – it made me think of summer sunshine opposed to winter darkness.
Following this masterpiece we had cheese, a small creme catalan pre-dessert and a nice winter baked apple, ice-cream and rolo (a home-made tribute the type you don’t give your last of away) dessert, a nice way to end a meal though matched with a cider felt a little bit of a cheat.
I don’t know if I got hit with the Christmas curse again (not sure if it’s me but I never seem to get the best eating experiences close to Christmas) but it certainly felt like something here was missing during my dinner here. I’m not sure if I was expecting too much from the beers (I was certainly expecting there to be a few more British ones), if Christmas boozing had killed my taste buds and I missed a number of the flavour layers or if my mind was distracted by the Christmas tunes on loop but I was expecting a little bit more than what I got. There were great dishes, and THAT mash, but many more failed to make a significant impression.Tweet