Impressive new tasting menu at Ritu in London St John’s WoodHALAL STATUS Fully Halal food menu (duck subject to availability (phone ahead); prepped & cooked separately) • Alcohol served
The last time we visited this area of north west London’s St John’s Wood, was in 2018 for our review of Lebanese restaurant Yasmeen.
This time our return to the corner of Blenheim Terrace was to review a new tasting menu at Indian eatery Ritu, whose kitchen is led by Muslim Head Chef Shoeb Haider.
Haider has worked at places like Michelin-starred Benares in Mayfair, and Tamarind Collection’s Zaika of Kensington, whose sister-restaurant Tamarind, also in Mayfair, was the world’s first Indian fine-dining to win a Michelin star.
Owned by restaurateur Anubhav Srivastava, who has restaurants in India’s Chennai including KNK Project, Ritu means “seasons” in Sanskrit (there being six according to the Hindu scriptures: spring, summer, monsoon, autumn, pre-winter, and winter), which means that the menu is updated with new dishes in accordance with the cyclic seasons.
Having opened in September 2021, the restaurant serves a fully Halal food menu, except for the duck, which is subject to availability (although it’s prepped and cooked separately so as to avoid cross-contamination), with guests requested to inquire in advance as to its Halal status.
While alcohol is served on the premises, there’s a separate room situated well away from the bar area to the right of the premises for 16 diners, with heated outdoor seating also accessible all year round.
If you love your watermelon, then the Coast Guard is a no-brainer. Garnished with a wedge of watermelon, it’s finished with coconut sprinkles on top.
Of the two, however, the frothy Tapster would be our choice, with a sweet almost candy-like fruitiness to it.
And while the smooth Seasonal Crush’s fruity tanginess was comparable to the above Tapster, our overall favourite was the slushy-textured Flavored Mojito, whose mixture of mango, strawberry and passion fruit was superbly balanced by the eye-squinting zestiness of the mint and lime.
What’s better than plump, meaty and juicy jumbo prawns whose smokiness, courtesy of some tremendous tandoori charring, complemented its spicious marination.
Dipping these Gunpowder Prawns in the accompanying sauce, and chasing that with some of the pickled onions served in a crunchy papadom cone, meant a strong start to proceedings.
Although seekh kebabs come in a variety of tastes and textures, Ritu’s Lamb Seekh Kebab was on the softer side of the spectrum, which, while being appreciated by one Lion, was tentatively criticised by the other as “a little chalky”.
Nonetheless, there was no denying its taste, with the spices being strong and robust without ever being harsh, and going really well with the sauce and pickled onions.
This Lotus Stem Chaat was one of those that you might question at first, before eventually beginning to appreciate its complexity with each given bite.
Made up of an assortment of flavours and textures, which sees a mixture of chickpeas, diced red onions and potato enveloped in plenty of vermicelli sev, with four large slices of fried lotus stem all dusted in masala chaat, combining to challenge the senses.RECOMMENDED
You’re simply not going to get better chicken lollipops than Ritu’s Kolkata take on this classic Indo-Chinese street food staple.
What stood out for us was the incredible texture they’d managed to achieve, with a subtly spiced crispy batter that had a chewy edge to it, and which gave way to moist chicken that retained a good bite. Just be sure to give these lollipops a good squeeze of lime, before making use of the aforementioned green sauce.
This Blue Cheese Malai Broccoli could have been better had the broccoli been more charred so as to impart a deeper smoky flavour, which might have then married nicely aganist the blue cheese sauce, had this not been so watered-down as to dampen its piquancy. Having said that though, a decent dish all the same.
While one Lion found the basil and pesto marination to be over seasoned, the other considered it a touch over.
Nevertheless, giving the chicken a good squeeze of the lime, and having it with the accompanying pickled onions and mayo sauce, just about did the job in masking said shortcoming.
There aren’t many places that offer this popular dish. Ritu’s is vegetarian based, and quite magnificent.
The star of the show here were slabs of cottage cheese which, while being stuffed with a potato mash mixture, were battered and fried to deliver a crispy-cum-chewy exterior which contrasted beautifully against the tender softness of the cheese.
But it was that silky smooth and vibrantly orange curry sauce, made rich and soothing by the unmistakable aroma and taste of cardamom, as well as a touch of spice, that we couldn’t get enough of.
Be sure to order either a portion of rice or some naan bread to really enjoy this outstanding Laziz Pasanda. One of the dishes of this review; and which may, we suspect, feature in our end of year awards.RECOMMENDED
And things didn’t let up either with this delicious Fish Mappas continuing our culinary euphoria.
While its attractive tawny-coloured curry sauce was rich and buttery, it was ultimately driven by the combination of mustard seeds and fried curry leaves, which helped temper its spices just enough for us to enjoy the natural taste of the meaty chunks of monkfish tail. Delightful!RECOMMENDED
A simple looking dish it may seem at first glance, but the complexity of flavours and the ability in balancing the spices was masterful.
With the lamb turning out absolutely tender, and coated in a semi-viscous masala sauce, this astounding Champaran Gosh was full of flavour, and enjoyed immensely with the tandoor naan below.
Not sure the £4.00 price tag justifies what is ostensibly a single naan; but the execution is something we couldn’t argue against.RECOMMENDED
And this was a wonderful medley of Grilled Seasonal Vegetables, which had the garlic coming through pleasantly, while also retaining a crunchy bite throughout.
This Classic kuchumber was well made, with everything you’ll need to complement the curry dishes above, including green chillis.
This slow-cooked Gajjar Ka Halwa Strudel was a first for us, and, we hope, not the last.
The strudel pastry was nice and flaky, with a touch of spicy-sweetness from the rabri condensed cream helping to cut through the richness of that wonderfully smooth-textured carrot filling.
Add to that the cherry coulis base, and this turned out to be an excellent palate cleanser after a spicy evening.
Of course, there was no way we were going to leave Ritu without enjoy a cup, or two, of their karak chai.
There’s nothing like masala tea to settle the senses. This did the job.
- YES/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
Muslim Head Chef Shoeb Haider churned out one quality dish after another, with some we'd never had before, such as Ritu's version of a Pasanda, and the Gajjar Ka Halwa Strudel; and others we're not going to be forgetting in a hurry, with one or two that'll probably be in the offing for our end of year awards.
With a solid 4.5/5 rating, there's plenty to admire here, with many more intriguing dishes worth revisiting for. Respect to Ritu!
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