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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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The Ritz has perhaps the grandest dining room in London: all marble and mirrors, with picture windows looking out over Hyde Park. The thick carpet means that noise levels are low even when it is packed (which it almost always is) and chairs are blissfully comfortable.

An array of nibbles arrived to begin the meal. A stalwart here is a delicate cylinder of Coronation chicken infused with mango, the gentle spices working beautifully with the meat. Also excellent were a truffle sandwich, haddock tart with cucumber and dill, shortbread with goat cheese mousse, salmon mousse macaron and a mushroom crisp. These were classy canapes (easily 17/20).

The wine list here has 800 labels these days, though prices are not kind. We opted for a menu (£65) that began with a lovely dish of langoustine in a court bouillon with baby vegetables and Perigord truffle. The shellfish was beautifully cooked, its natural sweetness nicely lifted by the fragrance of the truffle (17/20). Even better was agnolotti pasta stuffed with caramelised onion, with pecorino cheese, Supreme sauce and a black truffle reduction, with more Perigord truffle shaved over the dish at the table. This was really special, the pasta perfect and the combination of onion, cheese and truffle divine (19/20).

Turbot had very good flavour - a fillet from a large 6kg fish: the bigger the turbot the better the flavour in general. The fish was topped with a single scallop and came with cauliflower puree, brown shrimps, clams, artichoke crisp and shellfish sauce. Some might have viewed this as a touch salty, but I actually like bold seasoning (16/20).

The main course was Anjou pigeon with a ballotine of chicken and foie gras, morel and oyster mushrooms, Romanesque sauce and also a little truffle and foie gras sauce. The bird was lovely and the morels in particular were excellent. Sauces at The Ritz are the old-fashioned kind, and I mean that in the most complimentary way. They are the product of lengthy labour and patient reduction, and taste accordingly intense and rich (easily 17/20). 

Pre-dessert was a delicate tart of poached rhubarb with yoghurt sorbet, almond biscuit, vanilla custard and rhubarb jelly. The Ritz pastry section is one of the best in the UK, and this was a lesson in precision, the balance of the dish hard to fault (18/20). A modern take on tarte tatin had delicate puff pastry, caramelized apple, almond biscuit, piped vanilla ganache, vanilla ice cream and salted caramel. This was a visually striking and top-notch dessert (18/20). Service was as well-drilled as ever, and the bill came to £105 a head, which seems to me a bargain. The Ritz is serving some of the classiest food in the capital at present.

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Further reviews: 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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