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A friendly neighborhood pub

Shepherds Pie

Step through the doors of The Ritual Tavern and you’re transported to a friendly neighborhood pub from another time and place. The hunter green walls, subdued floral print drapes and dark woods glossed with the patina of age imbue the intimate low-ceilinged space with a distinct “Ye Olde” vibe. “Pierce”, wearing a tight T-shirt and tighter jeans, was waiting at the massive bar when I arrived one recent balmy evening. He was anxious to tell me about his new job.

Allison greeted us with a warm smile and presented the menu. The Ritual Tavern features a judicious well-curated selection of craft beers on tap as well as an extensive list of specialty and limited edition bottled brews – some of which are priced at $60 a pop. In short, nirvana for the beer connoisseur.

Pierce beat me to the punch and ordered the Mother Earth Primordial Double India Pale Ale ($6.50), so I chose a pint of Thorn Street North Park Pale Ale ($6). The India Pale Ale, served in a Tulip glass, is a full-bodied coppery-amber pour with a rich creamy head. A big bold beverage (9.5 percent alcohol by volume) with lots of citrus on the nose, a deep malty aspect on the tongue with notes of caramel and toffee, and a tart lingering finish. Sultry and satisfying. The Pale Ale (5.3 percent ABV) is a lacy light-bodied pale flaxen pour with pine on the nose, hints of citrus and apricot on the tongue, and a crisp grapefruit finish. Delightful and drinkable.

We discussed Pierce’s tech support responsibilities as we enjoyed our appetizers – Mussels in White Wine ($15) for him and the Baja Crab Pub Cakes ($12.50) for me. The generous portion of steamed bivalve mollusks are served in a rich buttery broth redolent with white wine and fresh herbs. You’ll want to sop up every drop with the crunchy toasted ciabatta. The cakes, packed with crab meat, roasted red peppers, shallots, parmesan cheese and herbs, are fried to a crispy golden brown and served atop colorful lightly dressed cabbage slaw. A drizzle of fiery Sriracha remoulade completes the presentation.

The dinner menu reflects the gastropub’s worldly influences. Entrée selections range from Shepherd’s Pie (“Our signature dish,” Allison assured us) to Creole Seafood Gumbo to Chicken Primavera. There are several vegan and vegetarian choices, too. Pierce raved about the Brazen Sandwich ($14) and I savored the Chocolate Stout Braised Beef Brisket ($22). A mound of tender slow-cooked pork shoulder slathered in a mild smoky BBQ sauce, served on an airy toasted pretzel roll, is topped by apple-tinged slaw and tangy bleu cheese crumbles. A side order of hot-from-the-fryer house cut fries tossed in minced garlic, grated parmesan and chopped parsley, completes the plate. A generous portion of succulent chocolate-kissed brisket is served atop a large mashed potato and bacon croquette, with braised organic spinach and a ladle of pan-drippings gravy. Delicious and filling, but a little too salty for my taste.

Did I mention The Ritual Tavern has been a Dining Out For Life participant for the past five years? They are donating 25 percent of sales to benefit the San Diego LGBT Community Center’s numerous HIV/AIDS services and programs, and Chef Tom Maki hinted at a sumptuous special selection for the event.

The Ritual Tavern is open seven days a week and offers a weekend brunch, too. Hours vary. Eat this, hungry readers. You’ll be glad you did.

The Ritual Tavern

4095 30th Street

Open at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday -Thursday

Open at noon Friday; 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday brunch



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Posted by on Apr 28, 2016. Filed under Eat This!. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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