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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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What follows are notes from a meal in February 2011.

The dining room here is striking, luxuriously appointed as you might expect, yet for me the food is what I care about, and the attention to details shows in the bread. Several top London restaurants just buy in their bread, but here it is made from scratch and it shows. A brioche was extremely delicate, an oliver bread light in texture and heavily flavoured with olive, while even a plain white bread was excellent (easily 17/20 bread).

The first dish today was chicken terrine, served with a quail egg beignet and pickled mushrooms. The technique shown in the terrine was hard to fault, the texture smooth and the garnishes carefully made (16/20 at least). Next was celeriac baked in hay, served with salt beef, bone marrow and black truffle. This was a pretty dish, the bone marrow providing some depth of flavour and the earthy celeriac going well with the beef (16/20). 

My favourite dish from this meal was tea smoked salmon with crayfish and bergamot. Normally I am not a fan of bergamot, but here the flavour was well controlled, and the salmon was fabulous, nicely paired with carefully cooked crayfish (18/20). Native lobster was cooked just a fraction longer than I would have ideally liked, but was by no means overcooked, served with a rich carrot puree and ginger broth. These were pretty strong flavours for the delicate lobster; I thought it was fine but my experienced dining companion thought the broth overpowered the lobster (15/20). 

Next was an ingredient treat, milk-fed lamb from Pauillac, presented on a wooden board and carved at the table: the lamb was carefully cooked and the flavour was lovely (comfortably 17/20). Cheese from Paxton and Whitfield was pleasant rather than exciting, which I found odd as they are a very good supplier (15/20). Dessert was Brillat Savarin cheesecake, served with poached rhubarb, buttermilk and vanilla sorbet. This was a prettily presented dish, and for me I would just like to have seen more Brillat Savarin flavour, though I really liked the idea of the rhubarb to provide balancing acidity (16/20). Coffee was of very good quality. The sommelier provided some well-matched wine pairing, and I particularly liked the Podium 2008 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesy Garofoli with the salmon. Service was top of the range, attentive, knowledgeable and friendly. Why this restaurant does not have a Michelin star is a mystery to me. The bill was £106 a head, so hardly cheap, but this was for a full tasting mneu with generous wine pairing.

 

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Further reviews: 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 Dec 2010

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