Fewer restaurants in London can boast a more breathtaking dining space than The Ritz Restaurant. A deserving holder of 1 Michelin Star, finally awarded in the 2017 guide, The Ritz Restaurant is one of the most popular places in the capital when it comes to spoiling oneself.
The Ritz is of course very special to us. We were married in the private houses and took our reception in both the garden and William Kent room. As stunning as that experience was, The Ritz Restaurant is every bit as grand.
Experiencing walking through the famous revolving doors and past The Palm Court, where afternoon tea is enjoyed, is an event all on its own. The restaurant sits towards the back of The Ritz with a scene greeting the diner such as it would have been many years ago.
Waiting staff look immaculate in their bow ties and jackets. Male diners are expected to mirror that image by sticking to the dress code – jacket, shirt and tie. This is the perfect occasion to dress up to the nines and really get carried away by the experience.
The setting may be formal but the atmosphere is relaxed. The staff are well trained to read the customer and give the best service. Something that The Ritz is notorious for. The beautiful chandeliers and gentle colour scheme compliment the incredible murals on the walls and ceiling. Why pay for a plane ticket to Le Louis XV in Monaco when such a scene exists right here in England?
Lunch is a superb option at The Ritz. A menu of three courses for just £59 is available in addition to the A La Carte, Menu ‘Surprise’ and a selection of ‘Arts de la Table’ – a list of specials.
You may think that given the reputation of The Ritz that your wallet is likely to take a kicking. It’s probably a good idea to examine the wine list very carefully. Many wines come in at above £50 for a bottle with a few good options such as Beaujolais red coming in just below at £41. We chose a half bottle of The Ritz Champagne – Baron de Rothschild for £55.
The Ritz Champagne is lovely stuff. A fizz that is light on gas but big on oak flavour. Even a glass as an aperitif is a great way to begin any meal. With our choices steering towards the lunch menu, we placed our order.
Within moments, a tray of amuse bouches landed on the table. A mico-macaron of smoked salmon mousse and lemon, a coronation chicken filled tuile and goats cheese, black pepper and basil mousse were all beautifully presented on a small tray.
The macaron was incredible. The skill to get such a small, delicate shell looking so perfect and then to fill it with a sensational mousse is mesmerizing. The lemon flavours in the shell were also a perfect match to the smoked salmon.
Tuiles are tricky little devils to get right but The Ritz have it down. This particular coronation chicken tuile was amongst the canapes served on our wedding day. A sweet sugar shell and rich filling packs more of a punch than the size of it first suggests. Delicious.
Black pepper, goats cheese and basil are three elements that work superbly well together. A really enjoyable mouthful and once again a nod to the skill of the chef who had a hand in preparing them.
First courses to begin the lunch menu arrived in the form of Red Mullet with Fennel, Basil and Lemon alongside another fish dish – Chalk Stream Trout with Apple, Fennel and Radish. Both dishes looked very easy on the eye. The intricate dots of puree and gel on the trout dish were astounding.
My Red Mullet succumbed to the light pressure of the fish knife. Perfectly cooked with a nice crisp skin and an intense Lemon Sauce. The dish did seem a little on the simple side but with a great collaboration of flavours on the plate. A touch of Italy in a predominantly classic French restaurant.
The Trout was just brilliant. The style of cooking a piece of quality fish at a low temperature to almost confit is very popular around this time of year. With fresh and beautiful garnishes to enhance the visual attraction as well as the flavour, this was a flawless dish.
Along with the amuse bouches, we had been given a small loaf of wholemeal bread which arrived at the table steaming hot. After letting it cool throughout the first course, we dug in. Lashings of butter on good quality warm bread is always a good thing.
I had been looking forward to my main course ever since I had seen it beautifully displayed in The Ritz Cookbook. An all time classic of the French repertoire – Saddle of Lamb ‘Belle Epoque’. I couldn’t quite believe this was on the lunch menu as it is usually a staple of the A La Carte.
One dramatic lift of the cloche and there it was. A beautiful mosaic of lamb loin and fillet with chicken mousse, mushroom duxelle, foie gras and spinach. A quite brilliant sight. All rested on rich pomme puree, a vegetable garnish and a rich lamb jus.
The taste of this dish puts a smile straight onto your face. The medium-rare cooking of the lamb is the chef’s recommendation, and believe me, he knows what he’s talking about. From a dish wrapped in lamb fat and containing foie gras, you would be forgiven for anticipating a heavy plate of food – wrong.
Sure it’s rich, yes it’s indulgent, but there is a real lightness that comes from the mousse and the airy pomme puree. Nothing stodgy here. Just the touch of a chef that knows exactly what he’s doing in order to achieve the perfect balance.
Bresse Duck with Beetroot and Pickled Blackberry was also being enjoyed across the table. A thick port sauce really brought together the sharp elements of the dish. Walnuts are not something that I’ve really seen paired with duck before but they went so well in this dish.
The Bresse region is world famous for producing amazing poultry. These French ducks really are full of flavour and well worth ordering if you happen to catch them on the menu. Likewise with Bresse Chicken which we tried at Daniel et Denise in Lyon, the quality is just astounding.
Desserts at The Ritz are always a highlight. With incredible talent lurking in the pastry section, you can be assured of a quality end to any meal. We decided to play ‘opposites’ again and select one Apricot Souffle and a dish cryptically named ‘English Raspberries, Vanilla and Elderflower’.
We had gone from gazing at artwork on the walls to artwork laid before us on plates. A dainty ring of raspberry mousse with vanilla cream was stunning to look at, as was the perfectly risen souffle.
The mousse was set on an extremely delicate biscuit tuile. The skill level on display was completely off the scale. Appearances are one aspect but the flavour has to match it. This had every single box ticked with the sharpness of the raspberry, creamy richness from the vanilla and a rich raspberry jelly hidden within the mousse.
That’s not even the best part! The sorbet, oh the sorbet. An unbelievably fresh flavour of raspberry and elderflower with a perfectly smooth texture. It’s like a mouthful of summer. Absolutely stunning.
Equally stunning was the souffle. One of the hardest things to get completely bang on the money in the kitchen. There’s such a small window between success and failure when it comes to a souffle, it can be too eggy or runny in the centre or dry and overcooked. This was completely on point.
Like an apricot cloud, melting in the mouth, the best souffle that we have ever had. The smooth and refreshing yogurt sorbet containing flecks of vanilla seeds just made it all complete. A fantastic dessert and a classic for a reason.
Petit Fours arrive on the table to signify the end of the food experience. Coffee and Tea is an optional £8 but really gives you a taster of the afternoon tea experience so it is well worth doing. The selection of chocolate pralines, passion fruit jellies, vanilla macarons and raspberry choux buns are just perfect with a lovely cup of Ritz tea or coffee.
For the overall price of £195 for two lots of three courses plus half a bottle of Champagne, this is outstanding value in our opinion. The Ritz is a notable venue for the rich and famous but you don’t have to be either of these to enjoy an experience here.
Opening Times: Daily 1200-1400, 1730-2200 (Sunday 1900-2200)
Nearest Tube: Green Park