My Favourite Restaurant: Ritz is a cracker

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DAVID SULLIVAN, chairman of Sport Newspapers, Birmingham City Football Club, property firm Conegate and several other companies, plumps for the restaurant in The Ritz when asked to name his favourite eatery - though he admits it's a hard choice between that and the one in The Connaught.

He chooses The Ritz Restaurant because here he can eat in "the nicest room in the world".

Renovated when it was bought by David and Frederick Barclay, Sullivan says the decor is now "a cracker", having been given a real kick in the proverbial. "It's classic rococo, I think you would call it," he adds. "It's all gold and so beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. You have to wear a jacket and a tie and it's very old-world style."

The food, too, is good, he says, citing the wonderful Dover sole and steak. Sullivan, 50, says he has dined at the Ritz dozens of times and likes to go there once every couple of months. He prefers to take his girlfriend although he has also taken business associates on occasion.

Last year he also took 24 of his staff to The Ritz for their Christmas meal, where they were served portions from a whole side of beef. And, he adds: "They do the best Christmas crackers. They cost pounds 10.50 each and you get silk scarves and ties, high-quality presents."

Sullivan would expect to spend pounds 70-pounds 80 a head at the restaurant, though his costs are kept down because he doesn't drink. He prefers a Diet Coke or fresh orange juice with his food.

He likes the atmosphere of the hotel, where, he says, there are always lots of interesting people. "There are cabinet ministers and members of the Royal Family. It's just a very discreet and nice place."

The Ritz Restaurant, 150 Piccadilly, London W1 (Telephone 0171 493 8181)