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 is a regular haunt that I have reviewed many times, so please see previous reviews for the background of the restaurant, the key chefs and the wine list. 

This meal began with a series of canapes, some of which were well established and some much newer. Ragstone cheese mousse used the mild Ragstone goat cheese from Herefordshire and is flavoured with wood-roast pepper and basil, the result being a smooth-textured, pleasing mouthful. Duck liver parfait with sour cherry and yoghurt is another old favourite, the sharpness of the fruit cutting nicely through the richness of the liver, the parfait being silky smooth. A newer canape was beef tartare tartlet topped with a layer of oscietra caviar. The contrast of textures worked well, with the crumbly base of delicate pastry and the softness of the sturgeon eggs and beef. The caviar providing a natural seasoning to contribute to the tartare. Isle of Mull scallop had been marinated and dressed in a citrus concoction that included bergamot, lemon, soy and finger lime, served simply with avocado. (18/20 canapes).

Ballotine of duck liver is a classic dish, using top notch from the Landes region of south west France. The liver is marinated in Sauternes, port and Armagnac for 24 hours before being rolled out with a port and spice reduction, then wrapped in a spiced port jelly. The ballotine is served with preserved damson gel and pistachio yoghurt with a little salad of micro leaves. On the side is a miniature pistachio Bakewell tart, the pistachios being from Bronte in Sicily, and a slice of toasted brioche. The ballotine had gorgeous smooth texture and plenty of liver flavour, the acidity from the damson providing balance. This is a lovely dish that would be hard to improve upon (19/20) 

Langoustine a la nage is a signature dish of the restaurant. Large langoustine tails arrive from Scotland alive via top supplier Keltic. The shellfish are poached in butter and rest on a bed of cauliflower puree, fresh fennel, assorted baby Cornish vegetables and edible flowers. The creamy nage sauce and the delicate vegetables are a perfect complement for the superb natural sweetness of the lovely langoustines (19/20).

Fillet of Cornish turbot (from an 8 kg fish) was seasoned and then seared in a pan until golden, then turned over and cooked in butter, lemon, rosemary and bay leaves. The fish was garnished with a cucumber fondant filled with lobster fricassee, sea purslane and herb emulsion. The dish was finished with confit pink fur potato and potato crisp, the dish resting in a champagne and dill oil sauce (17/20).

Anjou pigeon with blackberry and walnut featured pigeon breast served with a duck liver parfait dipped in cranberry glaze and seasoned with juniper powder, served with cassis puree, celeriac puree and a red wine sauce. The dish was garnished with cep, blackberries, caramelised walnuts and wood sorrel. Served on the side was puff pastry wafer filled with caramelised onions that had been cooked in a waffle iron, garnished with shallot puree, thyme leaves and onion flowers (18/20). 

A pre-dessert of Sicilian orange comprised both cooked orange and confit orange blended with toffee oranges that were put into sphere moulds, dipped in vanilla mousse and covered in orange glaze. This was served with orange sorbet and oranges marinated in lime and Grand Marnier (18/20).

The main dessert was pear croustillant with prune and Armagnac. This was filled with prune puree, prunes marinated in Armagnac and diced pear and prune and Armagnac ice cream. This was topped with almond brislet and mascarpone Chantilly, topped with fresh pear wedges and dusted with vanilla powder (19/20). Finally, petit fours were vanilla macaroon, a rich dark chocolate, raspberry and custard tart and almond and hazelnut praline.

Service was very attentive, and the bill came to £251 per person, but you would pay a lot less by going a la carte. To me this seems not at all unreasonable given the prices now popping up around London in fancy restaurants for tasting menus that involve nowhere near the level of luxury ingredients, or frankly the high skill levels that are quite evident here.


Further reviews: 28th Mar 2024 | 02nd Feb 2024 | 11th Dec 2023 | 01st Nov 2023 | 24th Sep 2023 | 26th Jun 2023 | 10th May 2023 | 08th Mar 2023 | 09th Dec 2022 | 30th Sep 2022 | 20th Jul 2022 | 24th Jun 2022 | 15th Apr 2022 | 08th Feb 2022 | 14th Dec 2021 | 06th Dec 2021 | 22nd Oct 2021 | 14th Oct 2021 | 25th Jun 2021 | 25th May 2021 | 15th Oct 2020 | 28th Aug 2020 | 31st Jul 2020 | 29th Feb 2020 | 19th Nov 2019 | 25th Oct 2019 | 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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User comments

  • Michael

    Having had a very good dinner on Thursday at The Ritz, I would like to comment on the level of service which does not reach even one star, never mind two. This by the way is not the first time. Welcome at the restaurant reception desk - to be told “amazing” when confirming my name for the reservation sounds insincere at the very least and very much like “amazing choice Sir” when ordering food. Perhaps a more appropriate choice of adjectives ? The waiters have no sensitivity and keep interrupting guests with their agenda - be it “allergies”, “wine list” or “specials”. Surely, a restaurant with aspirations should train their staff to wait until the customers’ conversation ends - and only then interrupt with their business. Yes, it may take extra few seconds….. This was repeated at every table and it seems like the waiters have no training whatsoever - or just suffer from extreme impatience. Shame, as the food and the setting are very good, but the service lets the restaurant down. Whilst I do not always agree with the Tyre Man, this must be an element in their rating - and rightly so.