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Entries in Ritual (1)

Friday
Apr132012

Ritual

Ritual 

281 Main Street
Worcester, MA 01608
(508) 762-9501

Restaurant Weeks are a great way to sample new restaurants. They are a “win:win”, restaurants get business at a quiet time of year, and patrons can try places at a reduced cost.

Ritual was on the target list of places to try. Their website is interesting and makes it all the more enticing. It’s interesting the reviews listed on the website have pros and cons, something making me wonder if they are that balanced in their perspectives or are simply “feeding” reviews into their site from external locations.

Arriving at the Main Street Worcester location, not far from Armsby Abbey, I was greeted by what seemed to be a wedding party. “Casual Elegant” is what’s called for on the website, and I was suddenly wondering if I was underdressed in traditional grey slacks and a blue sportjacket. No worries, if anything I was a tad overdressed.

I chose to use the complementary valet do deal with the car, and once inside the building felt huge energy. The restaurant is one large space, with a massive bar area in the center breaking the room up into smaller spaces.

I originally used the word INTIMATE rather than SMALLER and changed as there is little intimate in the seating. Small tables are put together for larger parties, otherwise couples are seated adjacent to each other (similar to what’s do popular in Boston’s North End). We ended up having moments of light conversation with the tables on either side of us; this is almost required with the closed seating. The restaurant is also fairly loud, creating that sense of energy.

One of the more interesting things in Ritual is the lighting. The bar is well lit, with the side tables being illuminated from indirect lighting. This gives a sense of darkness to the side areas, making the whole place somehow seem exotic.

Looking over the menu, we found many entrees we’d like to try. Two in the party went with the Restaurant Week menu, while one stuck with the regular menu.

The restaurant week menu offered three courses…appetizer, main and dessert.

We went with the Tiger Eye Sushi Roll (salmon tempura, tuna, asparagus, spicy mayo and unagi sauce), and the Cucumber and Marinated Tomato Salad. Neither were inspiring. We tried to get the sushi without tuna, and discovered it was pre-made.

The menu also suggested the sushi had an ingredient “salmon tempura.”  Tempura is lightly battered and briefly deep fried in hot oil. We felt the whole sushi slice was deep fried…and was not impressive.

The cucumber and marinated tomato salad was simply unimpressive.

While we debated why a restaurant would showcase “less than fabulous” appetizer on the restaurant week menu, our order of fried calamari arrived. This appetizer is fried then tossed with lemon, garlic and chili peppers. Simply fabulous. Everyone was drawn to the calamari, leaving the sushi and cucumbers.

Our service was a bit slow. One of our companion diners observed the waitress had too many tables to wait.

At this point, we were beginning to wonder if Ritual was a “miss.”  Then our meals arrived.

My “Ritual Chicken” (lightly breaded and sautéed, topped with asparagus, prosciutto and mozzarella, served with potato bacon ravioli.)  Delicious only begins to describe my feelings on the entrée. The chicken was perfectly prepared, and was not dry. The bacon was strong in the ravioli, making me comment, “Everything is Better with Bacon.”

The San Fran Cioppino is described as a seafood stew with mussels, clams, shrimp, and scallops, with essence of tomato, garlic red pepper and wine, served over linguine. I might debate labeling this as a stew, as there was no broth. That said, it was quickly consumed with enough left over for a take home portion.

The waitress recommended the Chilean Sea Bass, with the panko crust, carrot mango broth and tomato risotto. It was a fabulous recommendation!

None of us really wanted dessert, and reluctantly accepted the desserts on the restaurant week menu. The chocolate lava cake was a tad to dry side, and not particularly worth the calories. I tend to declare I am not old enough to eat bread pudding, and the Ritual White Chocolate Bread Pudding is an exception. Made with a croissant, it is served with vanilla gelato and espresso chocolate sauce.

When we arrived at six, the bar was busy, with table seating available. By 7:30, there were no tables open, and seating at the bar was available. Overall Ritual gets a green light, with a suggestion to stick with the uniquely prepared main courses.

Hours

Monday – Friday 11:30 AM – Close
Saturday 4:00 PM – Close

Ritual gets a

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

About the RAG scale:

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

       Amber Light – Use caution

       Red Light – Save your time and money