Putting On the Ritz

Saturday, September 12th , 2015

ritz 5472 Honore dessert-crop-v2.JPG

The Newman Arms ticks a lot of good boxes: it uses nice produce from Cornwall, the front of house staff seem charming, the room is cosy, the wine list is kindly priced and the pub even has an interesting history. It is the kind of place that I really wanted to like. Yet the meal that I tried there was very ordinary; there were no horrors, just a tendency towards under-seasoning, but the food just seemed bland to me. It seems to have plenty of fans but I cannot get excited over the food itself.

I preferred the meal I had at another place nearby doing simple food, albeit of a different cuisine. Briciole is an Italian deli and restaurant that gets a lot of things right. It has a very appealing menu and its kitchen produces robustly flavoured, enjoyable food. The waitresses can be a bit disorganised but the manager holds things together, and the wine list is unusually good as well as being affordable. Taglialini with porcini mushrooms was a typical example of the kind of food that they serve here, and very nice it was too.

Moving up the culinary ambition level, I had another superb meal at The Ritz. The level of technical skill in the kitchen was illustrated by a beef tartare topped by what looked like just like a whole black truffle but was actually a sphere of breadcrumbs coloured with squid ink, encasing a mushroom puree with a soft cooked quail egg at its centre; the dish was finished by dots of egg yolk reduction. The pastry section here is no less ambitious, with a spectacular gateau St Honore (pictured).  That the food here continues to be ignored by Michelin is a source of unending bewilderment to me, but not to its customers: the vast dining room was packed out on a midweek lunch.

The round of 2016 Michelin guides will soon begin. The schedule is as follows:

September 17th (2015) - UK and Ireland

September 30th – New York

October 7th - Switzerland

October 20th – Western Japan

October 21st – San Francisco

October 28th – Chicago

November 5th – Hong Kong

November 12th – Germany

November 17th – Belgium & Luxembourg

November 25th – Spain & Portugal

December 1st – Tokyo

December 7th – Netherlands

December 10th Italy

Late February (2016) - France

February 24th – Nordic Cities

8th March – Main Cities of Europe (covering Greece and eastern Europe)

April 6th – Sao Paolo & Rio de Janeiro