Our resident wine expert, Rob Buckhaven, moves away from his usual tipple to test out the new beer pairing initiative at Alyn Williams’ restaurant at The Westbury hotel in London’s Mayfair.
Let’s be honest, beer isn’t the first thing that comes to mind for a food-matching partner. It’s usually wine’s nuanced notes that are enlisted for the job, either meshing or clashing with a dish’s flavour profile. Once thought of as too simplistic for serious food-pairing, the craft revolution has shifted our perception of beer to that of a true foodie soulmate.
Alyn Williams’ restaurant, located within Mayfair’s 5-star The Westbury hotel, has harnessed beer’s power as a food-matcher and taken it to the next level, appointing it as protagonist in a seven-course tasting menu. A selection of beers has been expertly matched to Williams’ Michelin-starred, Modern European cuisine, with some delightfully unexpected results.
We started with the lightly briny Oyster and Scallop dish, with succulent pickled seaweed matched to the light and hoppy Curious Brew, from Kent winemaker Chapel Down. This was a highlight of mine, but then I’m a sucker for sea-faring flavours.
Next came a Monkfish dish with a buttery clementine sauce that married well with the Lefebvre Wheat Beer’s nuances of coriander and orange zest. Taster three was a fresh walnut, pickled pear and stilton salad, paired with a clean-flavoured, Bavarian crystal wheat beer, complete with an unpronounceable name.
I marvelled at the foie gras in a pumpkin broth, which somehow punctuated the sweetness of the decedent liver dish without smothering it. This was paired with IPA Torpedo, a zesty pale ale with all the requisite, richness-busting credentials. A beef dish was then placed into the ring with a Trappist beer accompaniment, giving the ‘three kinds of sirloin’ dish a brown butter and dark chocolate hug.
The final act served up caramel tart, matched with English Organic Cider. An original way to wrap up an intelligent and well-executed menu that had me thinking about the flavour dynamics for days after.