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 meal today began with a trio of nibbles:  beetroot macaron with caviar, a sugar tuile filled with coronation chicken, and squid ink crackers with avocado and lobster. These were all made, but my favourite was the coronation chicken, whose hint of spice, rather counter-inutuitively, worked remarkably well with the tuile.

Next was a clever presentation: on top of a layer of Scottish beef tartare was what appeared to be a black truffle but was not. It was actually a sphere of breadcrumbs coloured with squid ink, encasing a mushroom puree with a soft cooked quail egg at its centre; the dish was finished by dots of egg yolk reduction. This not only looked pretty but, more importantly, had stunning flavour (18/20).

Next was a disc of kohlrabi with Mirabelle plums, prune puree and glazed veal sweetbread topped with garlic crisps and flowers, resting in a pool of veal jus (17/20). This was followed by some old-school French cooking: ”sole zephyr” was Dover sole filled with mushrooms and langoustine, accompanied by a langoustine tail, covered with champagne and shellfish sauce, then finished with a veal jus. No one could accuse this of being a light dish, but the ingredients were impeccable and the combination of sauces lovely (17/20).

Grouse was served with celeriac purée caramelised salsify, lardons, salted grapes. caramelised walnuts and grouse jus, with crisp and light pommes soufflé on the side. This season has seen limited supply of good quality grouse, but this one was excellent, not over gamey (16/20).

A pre-dessert was sphere of salted caramel filled with nougatine and caramelised almonds, topped with gold leaf and cocoa nib ice cream (16/20). The finale was an impressive “Gateau St Honore”, named after the French patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs, a dish often served at weddings in France. This version consisted of a layer of puff pastry, Diplomat cream (a mix of pastry cream and whipped cream), an eclair with caramelised pear William, almond nougatine, caramelised choux bun, white chocolate with more Diplomat cream and topped with dark chocolate discs and caramelised nuts. This was as impressive as it looked, the pastry delicate, the pear providing just enough balancing acidity, the choux bun having just the right level of caramelisation. This was top class pastry cooking (19/20).

Service was excellent. A friend was taking me here today so I did not see the bill, but a typical cost per head for a three course meal here, sharing a modest bottle of wine, would be about £95 a head. Not a cheap meal for sure, but the room is very grand and there is a great deal of skill and effort going into the cooking 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 | 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 | 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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  • c.elder

    It all looks wonderful, especially the St.honore(and I am not a dessert fan), but I note from the pics that the langoustines tails have not been cleaned- the removal of the long black intestine/colon from the back of the langoustine/lobster/shrimp is always done in top restaurants.