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Ritz

150 Piccadilly, London, England, W1J 9BR, United Kingdom

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Chef interview

John Williams MBE is the head chef of the Ritz Hotel in London.

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My latest meal here started with excellent gougeres made from three year aged Comte that had plenty of cheese flavour, the lovely Coronation chicken that I have previously described in detail, as well as a delicate tart of quail egg mousse with asparagus and caviar. The final nibble was beef tartare cornet with oyster mayonnaise garnished with caviar, chives and Oscietra caviar. These were very classy nibbles (18/20).

These were followed by green asparagus from Provence alongside a gull egg with truffle on a bed of mushroom duxelles, with morel mushrooms and a truffle sauce reduction with a separate Parmesan foam. The asparagus was top notch and the gulls egg had lovely flavour, while the morels are a classic accompaniment for the asparagus. The rich sauces took this dish to an even higher next level (easily 18/20).

Native lobster came with pea and verbena purée, kohlrabi that had been pickled in verbena vinegar, and finally lobster bisque flavoured with almonds, broad beans, verbena flowers and the rest of the lobster claw. The shellfish was very tender and the pickled kohlrabi was a nice touch, its slight sourness cutting through the richness of the bisque (17/20).

This was followed by a particularly pretty ballotine of Dover sole that had been glazed in seaweed butter, with a garnish of sea fennel, tarragon and chives topped with grape gel and fresh grapes. This was accompanied by a leek terrine with a filling of cauliflower purée and leek purée, topped with cauliflower and oscietra caviar and finished with a sauce of champagne and caviar. The sole had lovely flavour and the pairing with the leek terrine worked very well, the acidity of the grapes nicely working with the richness of the ballotine and the excellent sauce. This was a very labour-intensive classical dish that few kitchens in the UK would attempt, and it was lovely (18/20).

The final savoury course was three different cuts of Kent lamb: fillet, cutlet and loin were served with a pair of quenelles, a spiced tomato purée and the other a courgette purée. There was a also a cooked tomato with basil leaf and a lamb jus. On the side was a vegetable selection with broad beans, asparagus and baby turnip. The lamb had very good flavour but I was almost more impressed by the quality of the vegetables, the broad beans in particular being gorgeous (17/20).

A first dessert was a very pretty frangiapane and pear pithivier, with sliced pear poached in Poire William liqueur and a sugar tuile along with vanilla ice cream. This was superb, the natural acidity of the pears being a lovely foil for the sweet almond flavour of the frangipane (19/20). The final dessert was, if anything, even more elaborate. A chocolate spiral had a chocolate sable made from Amadei 60% dark chocolate and grue de cacao (cocoa nibs). There was a shell of cocoa beans and a mousse of Valrhona Orelys that was flavoured with dark muscavado sugar, along with cocoa and liquorice. A sugar cigar had a filling of brown sugar ice cream, all enclosed in a cylindrical chocolate cage. This was a tour de force, the balance of flavours excellent and the presentation exquisite (19/20).

For mignardise there was a passion fruit mousse on a coconut sable, green apple and passion fruit jelly, choux bun with creme Chantilly and salted Caramel, and finally Amadei ganache with salted caramel filling. Service was top notch and the bill came to £118 per head, which seemed to me very fair given the quality of ingredients and the tremendous amount of work involved in the dishes.

 

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Further reviews: 20th Apr 2018 | 13th Feb 2018 | 11th Dec 2017 | 02nd Feb 2017 | 15th Jun 2016 | 27th Jan 2016 | 26th Aug 2015 | 28th Feb 2015 | 21st Dec 2013 | 24th Aug 2013 | 30th Apr 2013 | 29th Dec 2011 | 01st Feb 2011 | 01st Dec 2010

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  • Alan Spedding

    Ohhh Jeeeez , it`s 7.20 in the morning and I`m dribbling over my newspaper. That`s the finest meal i`ve seen so far this year. Stunning, and what amazing restaurants and dining experiences are all about. But there again , I`m ever so slightly biased and loyal to the best restaurant in the land.

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