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Oct 19, 2007 10:12 AM

Has anyone been to Ritual Tavern yet? (SD)

We drove by it the other day, and then I found this on their website:

About the ritual
we like to think that once you cross the threshold of the ritual, you enter a different
time and space - a simpler time, when people knew all the ingredients in the food they
ate and probably knew the names of the people who farmed their dinner. we've done some
research to find the perfect combination of sustainable and ethical farming practices
and consistent quality. that's why we proudly serve niman ranch meats. when you see us
buying produce at the farmer's market, don't be afraid to say hello.
when possible we avoid serving overly processed foods, high-fructose corn sweetener,
hydrogenated oils, and transfats. we make our own condiments, pickles, coleslaw, veggie
burgers, and french fries right here. it's our ritual.

Sounds interesting...

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  1. I wish I had the detailed food memory that lots of you posters do! We were there about 5 weeks ago and some of our meal as good, none of it particularly memorable (especially for my brain!) except the gumbo was delicious! The lamb sirloin was good, and thankfully cooked med rare to perfection. The shortbread dessert was good, the porter shake was the favorite of my 21 year old son.
    We thought for the neighborhood bar atmosphere and the portions, the prices were a bit high, and when we went there (a month after opening) was no coffee, although apparently the owner was out buying French Press pots that evening. When I asked what the coffee was going to be the server mentioned some roaster unfamiliar to me, and I asked why not Cafe Calabria since they are a neighbor and the best in SD. The server mentioned price (huh?) and the owner, when I emailed her, said she didnt know Calabria did wholesale coffee (huh?)
    When we left, there were 6 employees (we counted them) standing around the kitchen pass through chatting about something, and not a one took it upon him or herself to walk over to the door and say bye, hope you come back, hope you enjoyed the meal, or anything like that. We were very surprised and a bit put off by that.
    We have not been back because of those reasons and the fact that there are so many new places to try in SD, it has not been a priority.
    I will say that we were excited to find a neighborhood joint that we might be a regular at, and were disappointed because it didn't have that calling for us, but then found Buds which has! We live in Mission Hills, and both are what we call neighborhood. Buds is delicious, very affordable, and so pleasant to be at! And their coffee (with just a touch of chickory) is great! But that's another whole conversation.

    1 Reply
    1. re: abacal

      I ate there the second week they were open and was pleased. It's very simple food - burgers, shepherds pie, chicken, gumbo, etc. I had the Gumbo and my friend had the shepherds pie. Both were above average, but nothing I would seek out. Clearly, when we went, they were still trying to find their niche and they made a point to let us know that their menu will be changing in the weeks to come. What I do love about the Ritual is it feels like a neighborhood cafe, rather than a restaurant, and the beer options are very good. They currently have 7 taps, all of which are from local microbreweries. They also have a large selection of bottled Belgian style ales.

    2. Thanks abacal and naven. We were feeling a little stir crazy from last week and wanted some comfort food, so we headed to Ritual on Saturday night. The atmosphere was the best part of the place. It felt like a real neighborhood place and the owner's wife, Stacy, was walking around chatting with the guests and making sure everyone was happy. Abacal, it seems like they have gotten their act together a bit since you were there, because everyone was very attentive.

      We didn't have any coffee so I am not sure if they took your advice on using Calabria, but I was impressed with their selection of local beer and wine. The special was local mussels- they were soo good they had to bring us a second helping of bread to soak it all the sauce. I really enjoyed the shephard's pie- nice chunks of lamb and beef. I appreciated that the flavors all stayed distinct. And we had housemade pumpkin pie for dessert which capped off the meal perfectly. We will be back for sure.

      1. Went there last night for the first time. Thought it was pretty good. Had shepherd's pie, which was very nice. The potato topping was really good, and the meat and gravy flavorful.

        The beer selection is really what makes this place stand out. Incredible selection of bottles and drafts. I will definitely be back.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Josh

          I enjoyed my burger there, and the homemade condiments and pickles really stood out to me. The Stone Porter Milkshake was great as well, it was like having a creamier version of the porter, and a beer-ier version of ice cream. It was one of the few things recently that lived up to very high expectations.

          1. re: JRSD

            Oddly enough, will actually be eating there tonight. Wanted to try something new in the neighborhood (sorry Urban Solace) and it was a toss up between Jayne's Gastropub and Ritual. The prices at Jayne's really turned me off... I'll post my take later, after I've had a few pints of Hop 15 ;-)

            ETA: Seems they now know of Calabria. From their online menu:
            welcome to the ritual tavern
            we like to think that once you cross the threshold of the ritual, you enter a different
            time and space - a simpler time, when people knew all the ingredients in the food they
            ate and the names of the people who farmed them. we would like to introduce some of
            our farming, roasting and baking neighbors.

            carlsbad aquafarms
            our black mediterranean mussels come fresh from a family farm of third generation
            Californians. their rancho aqua lagoon aquafarm in carlsbad produces shellfish that
            exceed the requirements of the the national shellfish sanitation program, and is
            environmentally sustainable at the same time

            crows pass farms, temecula
            our organic greens for our salad come from crows pass farms in Temecula. They also
            provide a range of other organics we use as sides and garnishes on our other plates.

            niman ranch
            “niman ranch started in the early 1970s, when bill niman began raising pigs, chickens,
            goats, and cattle on eleven acres in a small coastal town, just north of san francisco.
            He raised his animals using traditional, humane husbandry methods and wholesome
            natural feeds. before long, bill began selling his beef to local grocery stores while
            restaurants were asking to put the flavorful beef on their menus.” (Source –
   niman ranch now distributes meats from over 500 u.s. family owned
            farms and ranches using all vegetable feeds and who humanely raise their livestock,
            with no antibiotics or hormones.

            caffÉ calabria coffee roasting co.
            located on 30th street just south of here, calabria roasts coffee from around the world.
            all of their organic coffee is certified by ccof, california certified organic farmers, an
            independent third party deemed for the assessment of organic quality foods.

            sadie rose baking company
            known for their “handmade, hearth baked, artisan breads” sadie rose baking company
            uses old world techniques and recipes to create some of the best breads in san diego. we
            love their foccacia rolls and ciabatta.

            bottega italiana
            like the ritual, bottega italiana makes a point to avoid corn syrups, artificial colors and
            flavors, and milk that has been treated with growth hormones. The only color in their
            gelati comes from the natural ingredients. they also have a commitment to the
            environment, recycling all appropriate plastics, metals, and paper products. They also
            compost hundreds of pounds of fruit a month. lastly, their packaging, gelato cups and
            wholesale containers are made from biodegradable corn plastic. please visit them in

            ritual tavern
            we make our own condiments, ketchup, mustard, pickles, coleslaw and french fries right
            here. it's our ritual.

          2. re: Josh

            If you are a fan of the beer selection, you may be interested in this event- I plan on attending!

            Trappist Ale Night at the Ritual Tavern
            Tuesday, January 22th, from 5:30 to close

            Please join us to experience the monastic brewing traditions of Belgium and Holland. The monks of the Cistercian Order of Strict Observance have been brewing beer for centuries to support their communities and their charitable works, and in the process they've become some of the world's most esteemed brew masters. We'll be offering tasting flights of three beers from Trappist breweries paired with artisan cheese from Belgian, French and German monestaries. Gina Freize from Venissimo will be here to discuss the cheeses while you taste

            1. re: bethsd

              Hm, sounds good, though I've already had all the various Trappist beers at one time or another. I did a similar event at O'Brien's last year, which even included the incredibly hard-to-get Westvleteren. It's nice to see the expanding interest in Belgian beers, though.

          3. We have eaten here many times. The shepard's pie, burger and homeade pickles will not dissapoint. Some of their other entrees have been both good and mediocre at times, but we will definitely be back. The owner Stacie is nice and very receptive to feedback. A few times she has changed recipes after we made suggestions. We also love the fact that we can get gluten free onion rings at this place. Just make sure to call ahead so they can make the batter properly.

            1. Finally had a chance to stop by and it was a great experience. The Stone Porter shake was yummy and I had the same mussels special as Bethsd, black mussels from Carlsbad Aquafarms in a white wine, garlic, onion (maybe shallot) sauce. On this visit, the sauce was a lackluster white wine sauce, but the mussels were really fresh and more than made up for the sauce. It was served with crusty bread, which was a nice side.

              Two of my friends had the gumbo and really liked it. Great taste and an appropriate amount of heat.

              My BF wasn't a fan of his Niman Ranch burger. He said the meat was too bland and the "artisan buns" too hard for a burger. I tried their in-house ketchup and it was really acidic with onion almost dominating the tomato flavor. Ironically, what would have made a difference would have been sugar or corn syrup, like a commercial ketchup, because sweetness would have balanced out the other flavors.

              We split the bread pudding for dessert and I wasn't overly impressed. It was a dense clump with overpowering cinnamon flavor.

              The beers were great, the service fabulous, and the dining room comfortable and lovely. The food was decent and certainly worth a return visit to try other dishes. I'd have the mussels again or try the shepherd's pie. If anything, we'd be back for beers, the shake, and the ambiance.