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 been to the Ritz many times now, and it continues to impress. It has one of the most attractive dining rooms in the capital, offers slick service and turns out high class classical cooking. The ingredient quality is high; for example live langoustines can be observed in its vast kitchen rather than the frozen ones so often used in London. There is no shortage of technique either, with a whole pigeon deboned and stuffed with chicken mousse and truffles at my last meal here. The pastry section is particularly skilful, turning out elaborate and enjoyable dishes. This is the most underrated of all the high end restaurants in London.   

Below are detailed notes from a meal in May 2014.

The meal today started with a tray of nibbles. Lemon macaroon with smoked salmon purée was enjoyable, but even better was a gougere made using Gruyere cheese and an impressively crunchy squid cracker with prawn and lobster sauce (between 16/20 and 17/20). A further amuse-bouche of a puff pastry cushion containing pea flowers, scallops and Oscietra caviar was beautifully light and the filling had just enough acidity to work with the sweetness of the scallops (17/20). Beef tartare came with quail egg and a pastry base topped with black truffle. This was good but for me could have had bolder seasoning (16/20).

A gull egg was soft boiled and served with croutons, English asparagus, Serrano ham, morel sauce, broad beans, pea cress and a separate ham crisp. This was a lovely spring dish, the asparagus of good quality, the morel sauce deeply flavoured and particularly enjoyable (17/20). Langoustines are usually good from this kitchen, and the trio today were particularly lovely, beautifully sweet and served with peas, carrots, cauliflower purée and a velvety shellfish sauce (18/20).

Turbot was pan-fried, served with cauliflower purée, morels, braised leek, samphire and creamy fish sauce. This was also very good, the turbot accurately cooked, though was a little less striking than the previous course of langoustines (still a strong 16/20). Loin of Romney marsh lamb was topped with herb crust and served with mushroom purée, lamb sweetbread, pea cress, broad beans, goat cheese curd and a rich reduction of the cooking juices flavoured with garlic and rosemary. The lamb was of high quality, the vegetables excellent (17/20).

A pre-dessert of poached rhubarb with dried lemon zest, rhubarb sorbet and rhubarb doughnut on a sweet crumb with lemon balm leaf was particularly good, the sorbet superb, the doughnut’s richness nicely balanced by the sharpness of the fruit (18/20). Lemon sable with lemon mousse. Lemon curd coated in white chocolate with white chocolate cremeux, sweet crumb and a lemon sorbet was encased in a little sugar case. This had lovely balance (17/20). 

A final dessert was a pretty strawberry bavarois topped with strawberry, white chocolate, cannelloni of sugar filled with strawberry sorbet covered with white chocolate, alongside strawberries, strawberry jam, white chocolate cream and a garnish of mint. This attractive dessert showed considerable technical skill, the flavours harmonious (17/20).

Petit fours comprised salted caramel macaron, vanilla macaron and salted caramel bar served with Musetti coffee. The bill, with a glass of wine, came to £83 per head. Service was terrific, the large team of waiters clearly well-drilled and attentive. This was yet another lovely meal here, the best I have eaten so far, and was more in two star territory than at one star level. The fact that it actually is neglected entirely by Michelin is increasingly bewildering 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 | 21st Dec 2013 | 24th Aug 2013 | 30th Apr 2013 | 29th Dec 2011 | 01st Feb 2011 | 01st Dec 2010

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User comments

  • Edesia

    Is there some kind of history between Michelin and the Ritz we aren't aware of? Its lack of stars is past "overlooked" and heading somewhere that deserves some pondering over.

  • Alan Spedding

    In a nutshell. .... Best restaurant in the UK.

  • Jacqueline Rodgers

    I completely agree, is beyond me as went to Roux at The Landau, Le Gavroche then The Ritz within weeks of each other and The Ritz won hands down, have had lunch and dinner and both absolutely beautiful. Le Gavroche was quite underwhelming in comparison

  • gordon hogg

    I had lunch yesterday at the ritz, which started with foigra and cherries next lobster with a fantastic sauce followed by 3 langoustines followed by new season loin of Romney marsh lamb,next was strawberry and white chocolate, this meal was fantastic forget Michelin this was much better

  • Adrian Turner

    I think the Ritz is neglected by Michelin as it has no Michelin history - that and the fact that the cuisine is traditional, i.e., a bit old-fashioned and tasting of food which is unusual these days. This week I ate at the Priory Hotel in Wareham - stunning lobster thermidor, the best grilled sole ever, etc. Seriously old school and no Michelin listing either.