It was no surprise when The Ritz was awarded a Michelin star back in the 2016 guide. The biggest shock was more why it had taken so long; exec chef John Williams is highly regarded within the industry and arguably one of the finest fine dining chefs cooking in London.
His speciality, handy for the time of year, is grouse, and so I’m invited to an intimate dinner to sample John’s impressive handling of the game bird.
The dining room is quite simply stunning. It’s all golf leaf this and chandelier that, along with the tallest and plushest curtains I’ve ever seen. There’s a pianist in the room and the strict jacket, shirt and tie policy (blokes only) means your fellow diners don’t let their surroundings down.
We start with a rather pretty plate of lobster, basil scented tomato jelly and avocado. The jelly is made to look like a tomato and although we are pre warned not to eat the green stem (decorative purposes only) I somehow manage to wolf it down. It’s a well balanced plate of food with the light jelly complimenting the sweet lobster chunks and claw perfectly.
The main event is grouse, we even watch one being carved at the table which is done with calm precision. The breasts of the bird are served with game chips, walnuts, celeriac, salsify and lardons (£38 from the a la carte menu).
I’ve had grouse a few times now and it can often taste incredibly bitter, a sign the bird has been hung for too long. John believes 5-6 days max after shooting is all that is needed. The result? Soft, sweet but incredibly rich meat. It’s ruddy lovely.
A slice of toast topped with truffle and foie gras is as decadent as the surroundings and a lovely addition. I can honestly say I’ve never tasted better grouse in all my days.
After all that richness, a light dessert of elderflower sorbet and parfait of raspberries is just the ticket. The whole thing is brought together by some tiny, chewy financiers; full of almond and totally addictive.
The Ritz is a magical place. It’s old school charm and there’s ‘fancy’ in abundance. I rarely wear a tie, but if I’m going to, I want to do it at The Ritz. And I want to eat grouse, carved at the table, by a man in a bow tie. Lovely stuff.
Would we go back? Yes
We dined as guests of the restaurant