Good Food and drink The Ritual Way
By Mike Shess
Kensington resident Mike Flores knew he was going to own a small business. After years working with a bloated Internet company, he saw a widening disconnect between the large workforce and the quality of service that was being delivered to the customer.
Together with wife Stacy, he sought to create a business that would allow creativity and flexibility while providing a tailor-made product. Thus, the concept for The Ritual was conceived. The doors opened in July 2007 with the intention of providing an entertaining experience by way of good food and drink in a classical atmosphere.
The restaurant’s 30th and Polk street corner location places it on the northern tip of North Park’s beer and food scene. The bar’s elegant, subtle and dark stained wood captures the old world tavern vibe perfectly, and the dining room faithfully replicates the European pubs that inspired its design. The lion’s share of the carpentry and handiwork seen on the interior of the Ritual was completed by Flores himself.
A strong emphasis is placed on serving local fare, subscribing to the increasingly popular farm-to-table philosophy that is now ingrained in the culinary culture of North Park’s 30th Street corridor. “We have more control when we use ‘real’ food,” Mike claims. “There’s no mysterious web of suppliers to unravel.” Favorite suppliers for food include Suzie’s Farm for vegetables and Niman Ranch for meats. The Ritual’s food is creative, simply prepared, and elegantly presented. Flavors are bolstered by any one of the Ritual’s handmade condiments. Vegan options are available as well.
Nowhere is the philosophy of the Ritual more prevalent, however, than in the beer selection. The commitment to excellent brew is displayed through 10 taps, one cask handle, and over 40 bottles. The selection draws heavily from the San Diego craft beer community. Flores cites beer bar neighbor Toronado and beer reviewing Website BeerAdvocate.com as the two chief resources for the constantly changing craft beer program at the Ritual.
While the selection is not the largest in town, it doesn’t need to be. The drafts tend to be local, and tap handles at time of printing include AleSmith’s Speedway Stout, Manzanita’s Riverwalk Blonde, New English’s Explorer ESB and Mother Earth’s Crucible Black IPA. The bottle list covers a broad range of styles, and consists of local, regional and international beer.
The restaurant also frequently hosts craft beer-centric events. Recently, the restaurant began weekend brunch service with a cask of Alpine Brewing Co.’s Hoppy Birthday. The Ritual Tavern also participates in community craft beer nights such as the free, one-night-a-month beer bussing service known as the DrinkAbout, as well as 30th on 30th, when restaurants on 30th Street offer beer and food deals on the 30th of each month.
To keep up on the latest happenings, check out The Ritual’s Website and sign up for its newsletter: ritualtavern.com.