Since its opening in 1906, the Ritz has brought glamour to 150 Piccadilly and this opulent hotel has become something of a London landmark. The afternoon tea, served in the elegant Palm Court, is booked up several months in advance. I’ve always wanted to go for a meal in the Ritz restaurant so was super excited when my gentleman companion finally agreed to go with me.
As we walked into the entrance and down through the hotel lobby we were taken aback by the beauty of the place. It was gold leaf this and marble that and I loved every single bit of it. But that was nothing compared to the stunning dining room.
I forgot for a second that I was in London and thought I’d wandered onto the set of Downton Abbey. At the same time as being an entirely formal affair it didn’t feel at all stuffy. The dress code for a meal at The Ritz is strict – jacket and tie only. Someone was even turned away as we entered as they were in jeans (jeans at The Ritz?!). But it seemed entirely appropriate – the room was so grand and sophisticated that jackets and ties matched the setting perfectly.
As you can imagine – the whole experience isn’t a cheap one. Feeling a little over excited I decide to treat myself to a pre-lunch Jack Daniels and Coke – you can imagine the stunned expression on my face when I realised it set me back £18! That’s right, £18 for one drink! The food is equally as expensive but there’s a little light relief in the form of the set lunch menu priced at £47 for three courses (phew!).
Three attractive amuse-bouches got things off to a winning start. The tangy yoghurt meringue with salmon mousse, the perfectly spiced coronation chicken and the tomato jellies were all delicious. Bread was also triumphant – the bacon brioche was one of the finest bread rolls I’ve ever tasted.
To start I opted for the slow cooked duck egg, pigs head and pickled vegetables which is right up my street. The pigs head croquette had a crispy coating with a soft succulent meaty filling. The duck egg was unlike any egg I’ve ever eaten before with an almost translucent egg white yet the most gooiest of yolks – a total delight.
My gentleman companion went for the mackerel with quince, golden beetroot and nasturtium which looked simple but beautiful. The mackerel fillet had a flame grilled skin which had crisped up to perfection and the sharp quince purée cut through the oily fish delightfully.
My main of John Dory with truffled lentils and cauliflower purée wasn’t the most filling dish I’ve ever come across but it did taste divine. The creamy cauliflower purée combined with the earthy truffled lentils balanced with the soft flakey fish rather well. Simple yes but still really enjoyable.
My gentleman companion’s blanquette of veal with autumn vegetables and Jura wine looked a little less elegant and more on the rustic side. Blanquette is the french term for a ragout of white meat (usually veal) cooked in a white stock or water with aromatic flavourings. This was a hearty dish which warmed my gentleman companion’s cockles no end.
My pud of poached pears, spiced financier and heather honey ice cream was very pleasant indeed. The honey ice cream was silky smooth which worked well with the sweet pears.
My gentleman companion’s banana soufflé with malt ice cream gave me food envy as it looked and tasted seriously good. It had proudly risen from its ramekin and looked like a thing of pudding beauty. It’s centre was fluffy and light as air with a big smack of sweet banana. It was ruddy lovely.
Petit fours ended things on a high – the mint macaroons and chocolate caramels being a serious highlight. I could have eaten hundreds of those macaroons.
I really loved my time at The Ritz and was reluctant to leave – I could sit in that dining room forever. The food was tasty and although being relatively simple at times it still packed a punch in terms of flavour. Match that with the friendly service and you’ve got yourself a cracking restaurant – a very expensive but cracking restaurant.