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 evening we had a tasting menu, which was priced at £95, though three courses can be had for £47. The Ritz wine list has very high mark-ups, so this is not the place to indulge your wine fantasies; even the water was an indefensible £6 a bottle. Fortunately this is just about the only issue here, as the food and service are excellent, so order some modest wine and enjoy the cooking.

Our meal began with a scallop marinated with lime and ginger, served with apple puree and hazelnuts. This was a lovely dish, the scallop’s natural sweetness balanced by the lime, the hazelnut adding a textural contrast (16/20). Lobster, heirloom tomatoes, caviar and basil puree arrived in a dish with raw baby courgette with its flower, over which a chilled tomato consommé was poured. The tomato flavour was deep, the balance of the elements of the dish precise (16/20).

Carrot puree with pickled mushrooms, sautéed carrots, goat cheese and black olives was very pleasant, though not quite to the level of the other dishes (15/20). Pan-fried duck liver was of very high quality, the texture of the liver silky, its flavour rich. This came with leek, broccoli puree, broad beans and raviolo stuffed with Pecorino cheese with a sauce of butter and lobster. The earthy taste of the vegetables balanced the richness of the liver nicely (17/20).

Langoustines with shellfish foam were served with courgette flower stuffed with ratatouille. Again the ingredient quality came through here, the langoustines sweet and accurately cooked (16/20). Turbot with truffle Bearnaise came with cauliflower puree, asparagus and crayfish, with black truffle sauce. The turbot was accurately cooked, the truffle flavour coming through well to lift the dish, the cauliflower giving an earthy flavour balance (16/20).

I now had grouse, which is a dish that I rarely order. I usually find the flavour ultra-gamey, and the texture can be rubbery, which is why this dish was a bit of a revelation. The grouse here has just four days of age and its flavour was not too strong but instead pleasingly aromatic, and the texture was superb, the meat very tender. It was served with lovely Alsace bacon and celeriac puree, which was an excellent foil to the richness of the bird, with girolles on the side. This is the best grouse I have eaten (18/20).

A pre-dessert was silky-smooth lemon sorbet with excellent raspberries and breadcrumbs (16/20). Then came a red peach dessert with custard parfait, strawberry, poached peach and peach jel, which was very refreshing (16/20). This was followed by a superb semifreddo dessert with several layers: salted caramel, gianduja (sweet chocolate with hazelnut paste) mousse, a sheet of waffle and vanilla ice cream wrapped in Italian chocolate. This was a lovely dessert (easily 17/20).

The bill, including drink, came to £134 a head, which seemed to me fair given the quality of food that was delivered. If you had the set menu at £47 and were careful about what you drank you could comfortably get away with about £85 a head all in. Service this evening was like a well oiled machine, the elaborate hierarchy of waiters all knowing exactly what to do, clearly the product of careful staff training. This was another very fine meal at The Ritz, which uses high quality ingredients and where the cooking technique is hard to fault. Its lack of Michelin star is a mystery to me.


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 | 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 | 30th Apr 2013 | 29th Dec 2011 | 01st Feb 2011 | 01st Dec 2010

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User comments

  • roman

    Grouse is a strong game bird but mainly in smell, not so much in taste. Sometimes it is stronger than normal; this is because of it being shot and the blood leaking into the body, which makes it smell and taste very strong! Please try them they're great!!