When The Ritz hotel in London opened in 1906, founder César Ritz had his eye on Wimborne House, the property next door. After he was rebuffed by the owner Lord Wimborne, it took 99 years for the hotel to purchase the house. It was then renamed William Kent House after its 18th-century architect, and when restoration was completed, such was its accuracy and beauty that it was awarded the gold medal by the Royal Institute of British Architects. Accessed through a discreet passage from The Ritz’s main building, this summer it is to be the setting for Dinner with Opera (£275), a magical evening of food and music in sumptuous surroundings on Wednesday August 26.
The evening will start at 7pm with champagne and canapés in the William Kent Garden (second picture), adjoining Green Park. The guests will then move into the Music Room to enjoy a four-course menu designed by executive chef John Williams, with accompanying wines chosen by the hotel’s head sommelier, Giovanni Ferlito. A starter of marinated scallop with citrus and crudité vegetables, served with 2013 Riesling Koonunga Hill Autumn, Penfolds Barossa and Eden Valley, Australia, will be followed by fillet of turbot with asparagus and morels with a 2012 Pouilly-Fuissé Vieillies Vignes from Burgundy.
Then it’s time for the opera: a 45-minute performance from The Ritz’s resident soprano Miranda Heldt of opera classics, from Puccini’s O Mio Babbino Caro to Verdi’s Libiamo – mixing drama and comedy in the way that only opera can.
The rest of the meal will follow: new season rack and loin of lamb with black olive and basil jus with 2012 Syrah Viognier Pierneef, La Motte from South Africa, followed by peach and vanilla mousseline with caramelised almond and raspberry, plus 2003 Sauternes, Château Filhot from Bordeaux. Tea, coffee and herbal infusions accompanied by “frivolities” will conclude the evening.
Although guests are not encouraged to recreate the decadence of Tallulah Bankhead, who sipped champagne from her shoe during a press conference in the 1950s, this evening of dinner and opera looks set to be one of enormous fun and glitz only to be found at The Ritz.