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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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The Ritz has perhaps the grandest dining room in London, all marble and thick carpet. It also has the most beautiful private dining area, The William Kent room with its ornate ceiling. The Ritz is very much a place to dress up, which in fact is not optional as it is the only restaurant left in London where men must wear a jacket and tie.

The meal today began with one of my favorite nibbles: a sugar-coated tuile of Coronation chicken. This sounds a little odd but the flavour of the bird with the gentle hint of spice is superb, and the texture of the tuile is ultra-delicate (18/20). Cheese gougeres were also very good, the choux pastry light, encasing a béchamel liquid sauce (16/20). 

Norfolk crab and crème fraiche were prettily presented in a cylindrical tuile topped with Sevruga caviar and garnished with lovage and nasturtium flower, with a few spots of egg yolk reduction and cucumber jelly. This was an attractive and clean-tasting dish, the refreshing crab working well with the salty caviar (17/20).

Langoustines (which are alive in the kitchen here, unlike so many London restaurants) were steamed and glazed with a reduction of the shellfish, served with cauliflower purée, diced celery, lovage gel and langoustine jus, with a garnish of squid ink grissini on the side. The shellfish had good inherent sweetness and the earthiness of the celery was a pleasing contrast; the grissini were delicate but were perhaps superfluous (17/20).

This was followed by a whole black Perigord truffle wrapped in lardo di colonata, baked in brioche and served with shreds of celeriac. The truffle flavour had permeated the bread, though this was quite a rich dish, so the celeriac was a welcome earthy contrast to the sweetness of the brioche (16/20). 

Whole mallard was served at the tableside and carved. A jus was made from the blood and innards of the duck using a duck press, and flambéed at the side of the table. Confit duck leg was then presented separately. This was another very enjoyable dish, the duck cooked pink and the sauce rich and full of flavour Something more than the little plate of vegetables that could cut through the richness of the sauce, such as a salad with a sharp dressing, might have been useful though (16/20).

A refreshing pre-dessert was a good way to follow the duck. Rhubarb was poached in spiced orange juice and served with its jelly, with a rhubarb-coated sphere of vanilla mousse and lime with rhubarb jelly, with yoghurt jelly on the side (17/20).

An attractively presented gianduja (sweet chocolate and hazelnut spread) praline cylinder came in a gingerbread Tuile with Pear William poached in champagne, with almond crumble, gianduja crema and manuka honey crema. This was certainly a well-made and nicely balanced dish, though I slightly preferred the rhubarb pre-dessert (16/20).

Service was very professional as always, with the bill coming to £79 with water to drink. This was another lovely meal here, clearly somewhere between one and two star level, though Michelin continue to snub The Ritz. The public shows better judgment, with a full dining room here on a Tuesday lunch in January.

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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 | 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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  • alan fowle

    A rare occurrence here but I am one step on from Andy , we not only ate in the splendid restaurant but stayed for a couple of nights in a suite overlooking the park. Remembering his description of the langoustine I had that as -a starter- delicious - then lobster followed by halibut off the live at the ritz menu last Saturday evening -what an event with a couple of amazing dancers putting on a show -allied to the usual perfect(in the non boring sense )food. Service was one with the surroundings-the suite was also celestial.