So one of the reasons I set up this blog was because in April I had quite a few meals planned, the main one being at The Ritz on Easter Sunday. Each year my very generous Step Dad buys me a very generous Christmas present - vouchers to a restaurant. Last year was Le Manoir (the best dining experience of my life, set to destroy any other when trying to live up to it. Woe) and this year was The Ritz. T was pretty chuffed as he got to be my plus one, of course.
I dressed up quite a lot for Raymond's experience last year, however I wanted to be a little understated as I had read the previous day that they were now allowing people to wear jeans. This annoyed me slightly as I feel somewhere as well known and respected as The Ritz, they should keep it very smart. Who cares if you have to don a suit for a few hours? It's part of the experience! Anyway, I obviously pushed T towards his dark blue, mod style suit which always gives me butterflies, and I opted for a black maxi dress:
After having great intentions to get the tube, then ending up in a taxi (regular occurrence) we arrived at the extravagant building and the door was opened for us by a lovely older man in a top hat. I was quite speechless when I walked in - it was beautiful. Definitely, completely over the top, but I love all that stuff. Froths, deer heads, edible flowers - bring it on.
After being slightly speechless for a while, then carrying on the silence as it felt too 'posh' to talk, we downed a glass of pink fizz which should have definitely have been sipped after we saw the price. One thing I noticed, and wasn't overly fond of, was the seating plan. Every table was round which is great, however the tables of two had the chairs next to each other, not opposite... fine again, unless you are on a business lunch. But we were facing the wall... what woman wants to face a wall when she is a celebrity spotting shrine?! I know I should have been gazing into T's eyes and feeding him my (his) dessert seductively, but I want to people watch damn it.
Never mind, onto the food. Bread first, we both went for the warm baguette but when I eyed the bacon and onion pastry, the waiter popped it onto my plate as well, legend. The baguette was fine but the pastry was gorgeous! It's quite strange eating something you expect to be sweet but is actually savoury, quite like Heston's Duck A L'Orange last night (genius). Yum.
It was a 3 courser with 3 options per course. T went for the scallop (yes, just the one) and I opted for the ballotine of tuna. They came quite promptly along with our bottle of cold, crisp Pinot.
The tuna was perfectly raw with lots of flavour and the remoulade of turnip and lemon was a brilliant partner, it was just on the small side as well which was good due to my bread-off earlier.
The one scallop and it's gnocchi and morels accompaniments was lovely. Scallop cooked perfectly but not cancelled out by the garnishes. Bravo to both.
Onto the main course - we had seen a huge silver thing rolling around the restaurant, which when opened, revealed a huge slab of beef, that's what I'm talking about. After deliberating over whether one of us goes for the beef and the other with the pigeon, we both gave in and got us some bloody cow.
Unfortunately, everything was cold. The beef was nice enough and cooked well, however lacked on the seasoning front. Two roast potatoes made my heart sink, but they were nice and fluffy - just cold. We ate everything, of course, but were both pretty disheartened that the restaurant we had built up so much in our heads had let us down hugely with the main. Boo.
Luckily dessert was better. T's being the absolute winner with the rhubarb souffle.
It was gorgeous! Light, fluffy with a hit of rhubarb and then a melt-in-the-mouth ending to a wonderful mouthful. I had serious food envy.
My chocolate parfait was... OK. Extremely pleasing to the eye, but lacked a dreamy, melting hit of dark chocolate that I was craving after the subservient beef. However I ended up getting my hit with the warming double espresso and selection of impressive friandises. Another great touch was that every woman got a Ritz Easter egg at the end! That was a nice end to the copious amount of cocktails we consumed after lunch.
All in all a wonderful experience that I will remember fondly, but not with the passion I hold for Le Manior. I text the Step Dad after to say thank you and he replied with 'we'll see if we can beat it next time.' Oh, yes please! Maybe El Bulli?