A Ritzy Time

Saturday, April 20th , 2019

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Royal China in Queensway is a huge barn of a place that always seems to be packed, whether at lunch or dinner. The restaurant opened in 1994 and single handedly lifted the standard of Chinese food in London. It caters mostly to Asians and service can be curt, though it is at least usually quite efficient. The large Cantonese menu is well prepared, with dishes such as steamed sea bass with black bean sauce filleted at the table are always carefully cooked. I am particularly fond of the gai lan here, the Chinese broccoli lightly cooked with garlic and having excellent flavour. The restaurant even featured in the movie “Sexy Beast”, with some of the former staff acting as themselves as waiting staff. It is never a particularly cuddly experience here, but few Chinese restaurants in London produce better food.

The Ritz has become my “go to” destination in London when I want a serious meal. The large dining room is very ornate and service is formal but in no way stuffy. The buying power of the place allows high quality ingredients, such as live Scottish langoustines and top-notch French asparagus, and the considerable size of the kitchen means that no dish is too elaborate to make, with labour intensive sauces being expertly made. At my latest meal a star dish was tender native lobster with precisely cooked beans and a light pea and verbena puree. The dessert section is very strong here, and delivered two fine dishes at this meal (an almond dessert is pictured). The sous chef, Spencer Metzger, has worked here for most of his career and has just won The Roux Scholarship. This is very much a dining place for grown-ups, with comfortable chairs and classical cooking. It has just one Michelin star, which is an absurdity when you compare it to the two star places in London, none of which outperform the kitchen here.