The Artisan restaurant is a key feature of the new-look Westbury hotel in London's Mayfair. Janet Harmer paid it a visit
The glitzy and glamorous £20m makeover of the Westbury hotel is totally befitting of its Bond Street location in the heart of London's Mayfair. Nestled alongside the likes of Versace, Armani and Tiffany's, the hotel welcomes discerning guests from all over the world, and it's head chef Daniel Hillier's job to ensure their expectations are met.
The elegant and opulent design of the 60-seat Artisan restaurant certainly provides the right setting, while Hillier, who previously worked at Claridge's and Putney Bridge, both in London, works hard at ensuring his selection of modern European menus meets the approval of the clientele.
Not surprisingly, the ladies' luncheon menu is popular with shoppers who stop off to refuel between serious spending splurges. The two-course menu, at £18 a head, offers a mix of light soups and salads such as wild mushroom consommé with spinach and ricotta tortellini velouté of Jerusalem artichoke, soft poached egg and truffle carpaccio of seared yellowfin tuna, pipérade and Morteaux sausage, salad of young shoots and salad of grilled Mediterranean vegetables, slow-cooked Roman tomatoes, smoked mozzarella and basil.
However it is on the à la carte menu, with a choice of seven dishes at each course, where Hillier's true creativity is allowed to come to the fore. Take, for instance, his starter of Dutch smoked eel, salad of sweet carrot, horseradish crème fraîche and beetroot reduction (£9.50), where the sweet beetroot jus - made by reducing and passing a combination of chicken stock and the grated roots - provides the perfect foil to the smoky fish.
Scallops always sell well and are currently on the menu in a starter of roast Cornish scallops with Jerusalem artichoke and vanilla purée, Alsace bacon and poultry juices (£10.50).
Among the main courses, a highlight is the roast best end of Elwy Valley lamb, partnered by a contrasting confit of shoulder. The shoulder is combined with an onion marmalade, toasted almonds, dried apricots and lamb jus inside a pastillia made from crunchy filo pastry (£22.50). A carrot and cumin purée provides a flavoursome accompaniment.
Fish lovers can choose between a roast fillet of line-caught bass served with parsnip purée, roast garlic, Jabugo ham and sherry sauce (£22.50) turbot cooked on the bone, buttered black cabbage and brown shrimps, confit potato with Pommery velouté (£24) or the fish of the day.
Pastry chef Sylvan Morel and his team of four chefs are responsible for an innovative selection of desserts, including roast mango, pistachio crumble and black pepper ice-cream (£7) and tonka bean mousse, confit kumquats, coffee ice-cream (£7.80). Morel's Brittany roots are particularly obvious in his dish of gaufrette chocolate with carambar and coconut ice-cream (£7.50). Layers of gaufrette (wafers) are topped with a layer of set milk, akin to crème caramel, flavoured with the chewy, chocolate-caramel sweet, particularly popular in Brittany, called carambar.
The wine list includes a choice of 20 available by the glass, with prices per bottle ranging from £20 for the South African Chenin Blanc, Flamingo Bay, up to £387 for the Château Lafite Rothschild, Premier Grand Cru.
Average food spend per head is about £40.
What's on the menu
Confit shoulder of rabbit, pickled celeriac, Pommery mousseline and balsamic jus, £10.50
Glazed rock oysters with sauerkraut and Morteaux sausages, £9.50
Baked goats' cheese with hazelnuts, salad of blood orange and watercress, citrus vinaigrette, £6.50
Roast breast of black-leg chicken, creamed cabbage with smoked bacon, pomme fondant, pied de mouton, chicken jus, £21.50
Turbot cooked on the bone, buttered black cabbage and brown shrimps, confit potato with Pommery velouté, £24
Lasagne of roast pumpkin, spinach and ricotta, salad of crispy root vegetables, £18
Apple and sultana tart soufflé, blackcurrant sorbet, £7.50
Pepper crème, chocolate mousse, vanilla granité, £7
Citrus tart, grapefruit sorbet, £7
• Artisan, the Westbury hotel, Bond Street, London W1S 2YF Tel: 020 7629 7755 www.westburymayfair.com