Yesterday evening, I was invited to an event at the Alyn Williams dining room at The Westbury for drinks and canapes, followed by a three course dinner at Brasserie Chavot, next door. I was amongst ten other 'influential PA's in Mayfair', invited to see and experience both restaurants.
A few people knew each other, but as usual I was starting from scratching terms of learning names and meeting people. Uusally this is the best way by far to network your way around as there's no 'security blanket' in the form of a friend that you can hide behind and stand chatting to the whole night. The Alyn Williams is a wonderful restaurant within The Westbury Hotel (37 Conduit St, London W1S 2YF), with thick carpet, a serene atmosphere and big wine fridges that act as walls. With a Michelin star, the service and champagne were delightful, and the canapes that were brought out were artistic and delicious. The two dishes that stood out were these small deep fried balls filled with a delicious light prawn filling and a light, crunchy covering, and these little toasts with tomatoes on top. This actually sounded way better when they were introduced by the waiter - it's just that I've forgotten the ingredients so I'm relying totally on how they looked! Shameful, I know. Mr Alyn Williams came out afterwards to greet us and check that we weren't all choking on his bread-crumbed balls. They were seriously amazing.
Afterwards, we were taken into Brasserie Chavot (41 Conduit Street, London W1S 2YF), a large French-style brasserie. Most or the menu was in French, and the Maitre D and waiters were on form, knowledgeable and efficient. I went for the Salmon Tartare followed by Veal Ossobucco which was divine. The starters were around the £11 mark, and also offered oysters, snails and soft shell crab. Mains were £25-30 and included duck casserole, seabass and a ballotine of Cheval (horse).
The salmon was the tastiest salmon I've ever had, with little balls of cucumber and served on a bed of pureed avocado. I cannot emphasize how incredible this tasted. The veal was also a memorable meal - it was off the bone, and had been marinated and served with sauteed green beans, artichoke and potatoes. It was mouth-wateringly tender, and held so much flavour. We were also served side dishes of salty chips with the perfect ration of crunch to fluffy potato, and tenderstem broccoli. We had wine to match our meals - I drank a spanish white wine which was glorious, but sadly, once again I have no idea what the name or grape was. The waiters were extremely knowledgeable on wine and at deciphering all the French on the menu.
It was a really pleasant evening and I enjoyed meeting various other PA's in Mayfair. I chatted with two ladies from the Belstaff office, a French girl from JAB Holdings who got a fabulous discount off their house brands including Jimmy Choo and Bally, one woman PA to a celebrity couple, and another PA to the managing director of Conde Nast UK and President of Conde Nast International. It was very interesting to compare notes, and see if PA-ing had been something they'd always wanted to do. For me, it's just stepping stone to where I want to get to, but it was fascinating to see where they'd come from, how they got into running someone elses life, and if they wanted to continue. Most of the ladies I spoke to had been doing the job for more than 5 years!
We all decided to have a pudding seeing as the meal was on the house - I opted for a chocolate and pistachio 'pot de creme' which looked very interesting, and the pistachio flavour really came through. Due to my emerging food baby, I dug down to the bottom and ate most of the chocolate leaving the cream and biscuit pieces.
The whole atmosphere was elegant and secluded, and the noise levels were relaxed and mellow. Overall this was a really enjoyable and stylish venue to dine at - I hope to go back on a romantic and issue-free date night with the Boyfriend, and I will definitely be recommending it to my CEO and team.