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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I have reviewed the Ritz many times, so please see previous reviews for background on the restaurant. Executive chef is John Williams and head chef is Spencer Metzger, who recently strode through the TV show “Great British Menu” like a conqueror, cooking half of the banquet menu and getting a perfect score for his dessert to boot.

At this latest meal, we started with a pair of canapes. Ragstone sheep cheese mousse came with wood roast pepper and a basil leaf, the mousse having silky texture and plenty of flavour. Even better was duck liver parfait with sour cherry and yoghurt, the acidity of the cherry nicely balancing the richness of the parfait (17/20).

Norfolk crab was mixed with mayonnaise and lemon, the served with peeled green grapes. Chervil, sea fennel and covered with ajo blanco white garlic espuma. On the side was a shellfish-infused tuile and a little tartlet of crab made with whipped brown crab meat, compressed Granny Smith apple and a jelly of apple, fennel and grape. The tartlet was dazzlingly good, the pastry delicate and the flavour balance of the crab with fruit superb. The tuile was delicate and these two other elements actually somewhat overshadowed the crab with ajo blanco, which was very nice but to me could have done with an extra element to enliven it (17/20).

After this was ballotine of duck liver with cherry and pistachio. The duck liver was from Landes and was very high quality, the texture beautifully smooth and packed with flavour. The liver had been marinated for 24 hours and rolled with a port and spice reduction then wrapped in a spiced port jelly with preserved cherry gel. On the side was a pistachio Bakewell tart with pistachio yoghurt, as well as brioche toast, the bread made from scratch in the kitchen. This is a dish I have eaten many times before, and is hard to fault. The duck liver was impeccably sourced, the pistachios were top notch ones from Bronte in Sicily and the cherry gel provided exactly the right amount of sharpness to cut through the richness of the ballotine. The little tartlet on the side added an additional flavour dimension (19/20). A vegetarian alternative was white asparagus cooked in a butter emulsion and served with a wild garlic and maitake mushroom emulsion, vin jaune sauce, finished with a beurre blanc flavoured with vin jaune.

A signature langoustine dish followed, large langoustine tails from Scotland poached in butter and served on a bed of cauliflower puree, baby vegetables from Cornwall and broad bean flowers from Merseyside, the shellfish completed with a nage sauce with herbs. The langoustines were high grade and superbly cooked, having lovely natural sweetness. The cauliflower provided a touch of earthy contrast and the herb nage was beautifully rich and deeply flavoured (19/20).

Next was wild sea bass from Cornwall, fried and then roasted in the oven to deliver a crisp skin. This came with courgettes, baby artichoke and Menton lemon puree, with a shrimp sauce poured at the table. The sea bass was precisely cooked and had superb flavour, the artichokes were lovely and the lemon puree cut through the richness of the intensely flavoured shrimp sauce (18/20).

The main course was cutlet of Suffolk breed lamb that was bred in Dorset and aged for ten days. The lamb was initially roasted in a pan then finished in the oven. This came with boulangere potato, the strips of potato rolled to create a spiral and then cooked in lamb stock with garlic and rosemary butter. Finally, there was lamb sweetbread as well as a new season morel stuffed with lamb tongue. This was a lovely dish, the lamb having great flavour and the potato beautifully enhanced by its cooking in the lamb stock. The morel was gorgeous and the sweetbread added an interesting additional element to the dish. This was top class cooking (19/20). I should also mention that my wife’s vegetarian alternative was excellent: gnocchi with pea, mint and morels. A baked potato mix was rolled, blanched and chilled then lightly smoked to make the gnocchi. This was then served with minted pea puree, white and green asparagus and new season wild morels. This was a pretty dish and the gnocchi had lovely texture.

Blood orange segments came with blood orange sorbet and blood orange foam, along with soft-set yoghurt and vanilla mousse. Blood oranges have terrific flavour and are just coming towards the end of the season now; the sorbet was lovely and there was plenty of vanilla flavour in the mousse (17/20). We finished with chocolate souffle, which I have written about before. This is made with a rice pudding base and blended with 90% Amedei dark chocolate, with a 70% chocolate disk lilted on the top, served with crème Chantilly. The execution of the souffle was faultless, being light and airy, evenly cooked and packed with chocolate flavour. I have eaten a lot of souffles in my life and this is up there with best (20/20). To finish there was a salted caramel macaroon, a dark chocolate, almond and hazelnut praline and a raspberry and custard tart, all of which were of the standard that you would expect from such the high-class pastry section that the Ritz possesses.

Service was excellent as usual. The bill came to £264 including wine and service at 12.5%. This was another meal that confirms the Ritz at the top of the London dining scene from my perspective. It offers top notch ingredients, highly skilled cooking and a beautiful dining room.


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 | 04th Nov 2022 | 30th Sep 2022 | 20th Jul 2022 | 24th Jun 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

  • tim w

    Have to confess that of all the Michelin rated restaurants I have visited around the world (which, I add, is *nothing* like the number AH has visited) this one continues to make me wonder whether the Michelin reviewers have the faintest idea what they're doing. It was AH who turned me on to the Ritz (not my usual style at all - I don't dress codes) but the food, wine and ambience are, to me, what the three-star category was made for. That it has one star is beyond belief (especially when you consider some of the restaurants in the UK that currently enjoy two and three-star status).

  • Brian Mcmillan

    Great review as always, how The Ritz has only 1 star is nothing short of disgraceful ???????