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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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This meal began with a set of signature canapes. Gougeres from 24-month aged Comte were piped precisely and served warm. Ragstone cheese mousse was served on a Parmesan sable biscuit base with wood-roast pepper and basil. A lovage emulsion was served on a potato tuile and topped with chive flowers. Finally there was Coronation chicken in panko breadcrumbed sugar tuile with espelette pepper. These were top notch canapes, especially the chicken and the gougeres (18/20). 

These were followed by Norfolk crab with espelette pepper, crème fraiche, chives, avocado puree, cornflowers, fennel flowers and fronds and jelly of Granny Smith apple, elderflower and ginger, covered with a foam of Granny Smith apple and a crab tuile made from reduced crab stock on the side. The crab tasted fresh and was free of any shell, with the slight acidity of the apple foam nicely cutting through the sweetness of the crab. The tuile was perhaps a touch oversweet, but the main dish was lovely (17/20). 

Ballotine of duck liver was served with a port jelly, damson gel and a garnish of wood sorrel. On the side was pistachio cake as well as toasted brioche. The duck liver had silky texture and deep flavour, and the pistachio was an interesting foil for the richness of the liver (18/20). Fillet of turbot came from a huge 9.5 kg fish (with turbot, the bigger the fish, the better the flavour, and this rule of thumb was really shown here) and was precisely cooked. This was served with cep puree, cep roasted in brown butter, rosemary and garlic in a foie gras jus, along with Scottish girolles and a supreme sauce (a velouté reduced with cream and strained through a sieve) finished with Jura wine. The sauce was superb, and the mushrooms had fabulous flavour (easily 18/20).

For the main course we had pre-ordered pressed duck. Here the duck was from the top supplier in Bresse, Mieral, the breast served with a deeply flavoured duck sauce that is made from the crushed carcass of the bird, the latter carried out by turning the wheel of a silver duck press at the side of the table. The duck juices are added to a sauce made tableside just before, that is flavoured with foie gras, peppercorns and Dijon mustard and then flambeed in brandy. The duck was glorious and the sauce fabulously rich, with just enough pepper, some of it the excellent Kampot pepper from Cambodia, to cut through that richness. The legs of the duck were served as a separate serving, and today were the only problem in the meal. I have had this dish several times and the duck leg confit has always been lovely, but today there was a tweak to the leg recipe that was unsuccessful and the duck emerged overcooked and a bit dry. Doubtless this will be fixed, as the version that I had prior to this was just fine.  This is tricky to score as the breast of duck and the sauce were essentially faultless, but the second serving was the duck was problematic. If I weight these three different dish elements equally and combine the individual element scores together then the average for the dish is 16/20, well below what I usually score it. On the side were delicate pommes souffles and a selection of lightly cooked seasonal vegetables.

Pre-dessert was compressed Pink Lady apple coated in apple juice and marigold, seasoned with lime juice and lime zest. This was topped with apple and marigold sorbet and caramelised hazelnut. The point of a pre-desert is to be refreshing and this delivered very well, with acidity of the apple and lime combining nicely with the sweetness of the caramelised hazelnuts (18/20). The main dessert was chestnut Mont Blanc with pear and tonka beans. There was a meringue shell with chestnut Chantilly, rum ice cream, pear and tonka compote, a puff pastry wafer, dark cocirculate disks, vanilla mousse, chocolate decorations and meringue tubes. This was a beautifully presented dessert that tasted every bit as good as it looked, the combination of flavours and textures being gorgeous (19/20).

Finally there was a selection of petit fours. Amadei chocolate and tonka bean ganache was offered alongside lovely passion fruit pate de fruit, vanilla macaron and a mango mousse with lime ganache. Service was silky smooth. The bill came to £214 per person including drinks. If you ordered a la carte and shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical cost per person might be £125. This was another fine meal from a kitchen that is cooking at the top of its game.

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Further reviews: 30th Sep 2019 | 30th Aug 2019 | 16th Jul 2019 | 18th Apr 2019 | 12th Mar 2019 | 26th Sep 2018 | 01st Aug 2018 | 04th May 2018 | 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 Bird

    Some of the best food I’ve tasted in London this year. Top notch ingredients, thoughtfully sourced and prepared and cooked perfectly. Highly recommended it!