The Ritz – much more than just afternoon tea | The Ritz restaurant, 150 Piccadilly, London W1J 9BR
Being food bloggers we get to do a whole host of exciting things, meet interesting and passionate people, try a wide variety of food, stay in stunning hotels. Never in a million years did we imagine we’d end up in the kitchens at the lavish Ritz hotel on a Saturday morning for a dessert masterclass. But there we were, joined by a few others a little bleary eyed but very excited, lapping up every second and taking in every sight and sound of the vast kitchens buried underneath the hotel.
Head pasty chef Lewis Wilson was our guide, he explained how we’d help create a Vanilla, chocolate and hazelnut ice bombe with hazelnut daquiose and feullatine. Easy for him, not so easy for us amateurs (no offence to the others). We whipped ice cream, melted chocolate (not any old chocolate – 63% Amedei from Tuscany), piped praline, moulded ice cream and glazed the bombe – we finally gave up when it came to the finishing touches of decoration, spindly ‘S’ shaped chocolate curls were as fragile as a house of cards. Ade compared the topper to Jordan’s wedding carriage from one of her many nuptials. It did look much grander than that, so stunning we couldn’t stop gazing at it, we were full of appreciation for all the stages and effort that this creation went through. Whilst in the kitchen we learnt that The Ritz serve a staggering 400 afternoon teas a day.
The fun didn’t stop there, we were led back up to the splendour of the hotel and into the restaurant for lunch where we would be presented with the very same bombe for our dessert. The room was like something out of ancient Greece, but then it has been there since 1906 – with marble columns, a vast golden glow sweeps the entire ceiling, gilded statues stand proud at the end of the room. This was absolute heaven for people watcher addicts like us (that sounded creepier than it was intended).
After our bread selection and an amuse bouche trio we leapt into our starter of Var salmon with beetroot, horseradish and orange. The prettiest and tastiest plate, gently poached fish daintily embellished with dots of roe atop a beetroot smear that wouldn’t look out of place in a beauty feature. For wine loves there’s an infamous wine list, including some of their own wines that can’t be found anywhere else. Our sommelier for lunch put us at ease with no wine babble, in fact the head sommelier, Tobias Brauweiler came in the top six of the UK Sommelier of the Year Competition 2012. We fell in love with the red wine from Bordeaux – The Ritz Pauillac Premium Selection 2010 Baron Philippe de Rothschild £64 a bottle.
Next was Loin of lamb with a herb crust, caramelised shallots and peas. A great juicy hunk of meat, balanced by the freshness of the peas and pea shoots. I am not normally a fan of lamb but this was really good, so much so I ate every last morsel. The herb crust was exactly that, a crust, not that powdery coating you can get from lesser kitchens. The peas were crisp and sweet whilst the softened onions offered a little change of texture.
And of course dessert was our Chocolate and hazelnut bombe masterpiece, drawing admiring glances (and even a sneaky photo from other diners) when it arrived and served at our table. At table preparation and service, a lost art that the Ritz are proud of, so much so executive chef John Williams MBE has even introduced a ‘Les Arts de la Table’ menu at £75 per person for three courses. Which includes a glass of Ritz Cuvée Champagne and with dishes expertly carved or filleted in front of your very eyes, talk about adding theatre to one’s meal!
We weren’t finished just yet, coffee and ‘frivolities’ were yet to come and I needed a doggy bag. A silver tray of petit fours including macarons and gorgeous raspberry topped cakes complete with a teeny ‘R’ was placed before us. Such seamless service throughout, but then we’d expect nothing less, it took me a while to get used to the only man at the table being served last, it’s ladies first all the way here. We’d never have thought about coming here to eat, not because we didn’t think it would be good, but because we assumed we couldn’t afford it. The Ritz is about much more than afternoon tea, and at £49 a head for a regularly changing three-course set lunch, it’s not that unachievable either.
150 Piccadilly, London W1J 9BR
Telephone: 020 7300 2370
BREAKFAST: Monday to Saturday: 7:00am – 11:00am
Sunday and Bank Holidays: 8:00am – 11:00am
LUNCH: Monday to Sunday: 12:30pm – 2:00pm
PRE-THEATRE: Monday to Saturday: 5:30pm – 7:00pm
DINNER: Monday to Sunday: 7:00pm – 10:00pm
Friday and Saturday ‘Live at The Ritz’ Dinner Dance: 7.00pm – 10.00pm
PLEASE NOTE: Men must wear a suit and tie in the restaurant
Book a table here
Nearest station: Green Park (4 mins walk)
We ate at The Ritz as their guests, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.