‘Live at The Ritz’: A magnificent dinner dance experience
By LAURA TOOGOOD, supported by ANTONY NEWTON
Dining at The Ritz London has been on my bucket list for a while. The Ritz always reminds me of when I first moved to London and set about exploring the city. I was strolling down Piccadilly one sunny afternoon and passed the grand building that hosts the capital’s best known luxury hotel.
The rich red carpet on the steps outside indicated that someone very important was staying (it is blue on other days) and it was beckoning me inside. I couldn’t resist popping in to see whether the hotel lived up to its legendary reputation.
Needless to say, I was not disappointed and even though I only ventured as far as the Rivoli Bar on that occasion, I was still able to catch a glimpse of the regal décor and experience the impeccable service.
It left me eager to return one day for a proper visit and with confirmation that there really is nothing quite like The Ritz.
Four years on and I found myself sitting at the same table where I first ordered a glass of white wine in the early days of my ‘London Chapter’ of life. This time, I was joined by The Sloaney’s experienced food critic, Antony Newton, and we began our night with a coupe of Bollinger each.
As expected on a Friday evening – or probably any evening at The Ritz – the bar was fully booked. We were lucky enough to have one of the corner tables and quietly observed the sophisticated merriment. There were as many International guests as British and the waiters were eagerly serving cocktails and champagne to most.
The Bollinger was accompanied by a small selection of pre-dinner bites, which certainly whet the appetite. However, we were careful not to overindulge as the intention of our visit was to experience ‘Live at The Ritz’, which is the celebrated dinner dance that normally mesmerises guests on a Saturday night.
Due to popular demand it has now been extended to Fridays and aside from featuring incredible food and wine, musician Peter O’Donnell and his band also perform with dancers on-hand to impress with the tango, rumba and salsa.
‘Live at The Ritz’ unfolds in The Ritz Restaurant and many guests choose to take their table without visiting the bar first. However, considering we were running an hour early, it was worthwhile experiencing the Rivoli Bar and reflecting on previous memories.
It also gave us the opportunity to stop and listen to the live musicians that were serenading the late Afternoon Tea sitting from the hallway as we made our way to dinner.
The Ritz hosts one of the most spectacular dining rooms, I would say, in the world. It radiates a sense of traditional British glamour, with a magical atmosphere and luxurious surroundings.
It mixes classical service with opulent décor and provides the perfect setting to experience the timeless charm of a dinner dance and live entertainment. The restaurant captures the very best of Old England, with a dash of contemporary flair to suit modern times.
The food is exquisite and there are various menu options that have been designed by award-winning Executive Chef, John Williams MBE. When our waiter mentioned the ‘Menu Surprise’ was a popular choice, we couldn’t resist joining such an intriguing culinary journey that included a selection of classic or fine wines chosen by Head Sommelier Tobias Brauweiler.
With eight courses ahead, we tried our best to be modest with the bread offering at the beginning. However, this proved harder than we first thought, especially with scrumptious creations such as a warm, bacon-filled brioche available and we perhaps ordered one too many.
Thankfully, the Menu Surprise included several delicate seafood dishes, such as Lobster with Tomato Essence, Bean Flower and Cucumber, Grilled Mackerel with Apple, Viola and Cucumber and Sea Bass with Courgette Flower, Crayfish and Quinoa.
The Terrine of Goose Liver and Pheasant Egg were among highlights and my personal favourite was the Tournedos of Beef – mainly because of the Truffle Sauce accompanying it!
Each course is paired with a wine that is especially selected to complement the style of food that is served with red, white and pudding wine among the selections. Whispering Angel Rose is also poured from magnums and is a popular choice on a summer evening.
As the sun sets outside and most guests reach the latter stage of their meal, the lights dim and the entertainment begins. Professional dancers perform under sparkling chandeliers and the band continues late into the evening, encouraging a post-dinner dance from nearly everyone in the room.
It really is a fairytale evening and The Ritz London excels on every aspect. It is a wonderful atmosphere in a splendid setting, with faultless service and a perfect menu. This is the ultimate dinner treat for a special occasion and definitely worth ticking off the bucket list.
Live at The Ritz is extended to Fridays due to popular demand, and spaces can be booked online (from £95 per person) at www.theritzlondon.co.uk. For those wishing to continue the magic, a fantastic package is also available which includes one night of accommodation, dinner, dancing and breakfast the following morning (from £545 inclusive of VAT).