If you’re looking for honest, solid food Ritual Tavern, only a few months old, might be your place. It’s on 30th Street, a few blocks north of Lincoln. Buzz and pals made two visits to taste some of its small menu. Not fancy, but homey with dishes made with mostly local, organic ingredients. You might call the place a neighborhood Slow Food eatery. Owners Michael Flores and Staci Wilkens (alums, along with chef Glenn Farrington, from The Linkery) strive for dishes made from sustainable and organic ingredients. Niman Ranch provides their meats and Farrington makes his own catsup, mustard, pickles and slaw to avoid high-fructose corn syrup and other additives usually found in commercial brands.
A northern version of gumbo that adds carrots to the usual southern trio of onion, green pepper and celery is thickened with roux and the bites of spicy sausage, chicken and shrimp mix well in the bowl with organic wild rice. It’s a zippy, hearty dish that is just terrific, as a dish, regardless of whether it can be called gumbo in the strictest sense. A dish should be good on its own merits and this one is. Farm-raised catfish and house-made chips are light and crunchy though the fish could have used a moment more in the fryer to give it a firmer texture. A perfectly cooked medium-rare lamb sirloin flanked with fresh chard and potatoes du jour is the highest priced item on the menu ($19). There’s a delectable bread pudding with homemade bourbon sauce and a seasonal fresh fruit (apple and pear one night) that hit the spot–albeit with an unexpected heavy crust.
An extensive list of beers and a small eclectic group of wines by the glass make good beverage choices. You’ll find gluten-free dishes and the kitchen is willing to adjust a dish to meet your needs. That said, it can impact the kitchen and service. One night all went well, another time salad and entrees arrived together. One could argue it’s food you’d make at home, simple and tasty, but why bother if you’ve got a neat little tavern nearby.