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Ritual Restaurant, Worcester - A HIT!

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Four of us hit this newish spot in Worcester last night. Mostly a Mediterranean mezze-type place, with some pizzas and entrees as well. The decor is very interesting - - some huge wooden doors imbedded into the wall, the standard downtown Worcester tin ceiling, funky dark/warm ambience throughout.

We started off with their Argentinian Medoc by the glass which was excellent, and shared the dip assortment, stuffed grape leaves, bruscetta and seafood trio. The dip dish had 4 lovely dips (hummus, a veggie-flavored hummus, a carrot/beet puree topped with egg slices - heavenly!, and tzitziki sauce), surrounded by bread, assorted veggies, olives, cheese. The bruscetta was topped with lovely fresh tomatoes w/a light balsalmic dressing and shaved parm. Both the grape leaves and seafood trio had meat, which I don't eat, but the other folks at the table were swooning - - grape leaves were served warm, which was enjoyed. For entrees 2 people had the filet mignon wrapped in bacon, which was well prepared as were various side dishes accompanying. Grilled scallops on lobster ravioli were perfectly cooked and the ravioli were very tasty - I usually don't like lobster ravioli, but these actually tasted like lobster! I had a porcini mushroom and linguini dish which, while tasty, fell short in the complete absence of detectable porcini mushrooms and was chock full of domestic mushrooms. I mentioned this to the waitress and she talked to the kitchen. I was told that people complained that the porcini flavor was overwhelming, so they changed it to a mixture. Still, no porcinis detectable by my palate. For dessert we shared a fresh fruit yogurt parfait that was rich, creamy and satisfying.

The only real complaint came at the end of the meal when they tacked on a 20% tip for our party of 4. I inquired, and was told that it must have been since our reservation had initially been for 5. They took it off immediately, but I was a little dismayed that they would even have added it on for a 5 top, and that it was at the 20% level as an automatic gratuity. Isn't 15-17% the norm when the establishment adds it?

Looking forward to going back. This place has potential.

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  1. I love the menu..I resent the tip..it's not an automatic thing to me..trust me, I tip hugely..I waitress..I get it but how lame..glad u called them on it. Where is this spot please?

    1 Reply
    1. re: phelana

      281 Main Street Worcester

      http://www.ritualworcester.com

      @invinotheresverde- I'm going again next weekend, but I don't go out all that often. Not sure my little contribution will turn it around, but it will help. Hopefully posts here will help even more. I didn't see a single thing about them on the boards! They've been open since March, so it's still a bit early.

    2. You should go often if you like it. I heard through the grapevine that they're not doing well financially...

      1. We returned Sat. night and had a very good experience again. I called around 5 pm to see if I could book a table for ~7:30, but they were completely booked for the night. We showed up anyway, and they were able to seat us within 10 minutes! Very nice, especially considering that DH was playing with his quartet at Nick's Bar at 9:00pm and we needed to get over there.

        We had their Caesar salad, beet/goat cheese salad, an order of fried calamari (lemon, garlic, peppers) and smashed Yukon potatoes. Everything was absolutely great. Caesar dressing clearly made in house: tangy, creamy, garlicky with nice capers. Beet salad was vertical with alternating yellow//red slices sandwiching the herby chevre. The calamari was made with a loving hand in the fryer, and was not overdressed (I sometimes find this preparation soggy....not so at Ritual!). Served with a great homemade tartar sauce with hints of fresh dill. Yum! Finally, the smashed potatoes were right on target..chunky style, which I like, with good sour cream flavor.

        My only complaint is that all the food came together. We were planning on having the salads as a first course, and the calamari/potatoes as an entree. Since this is a small plates kind of place, I can understand why they prepped everything together (they were all in the "appetizer" section of the menu). But it wouldn't have taken a genius to figure out that 2 people were not going to devour this stuff all at one time. The waiter should have asked us whether we wanted everything at once. Our little 2-top was completely crammed with food and we had to eat the calamari and potatoes first so they wouldn't get cold. I acted surprised when everything came together, and the waiter hurriedly said "they come from 2 different stations", which doesn't help me understand why I have to eat 4 plates of food at once. I mentioned it to the hostess as we were leaving.

        At any rate, food was great and the vibe is fun. Highly recommended and we will definitely be back again!