I ate this nice dish of gumbo at Ritual, a brand new restaurant just steps away from my North Park apartment.The gumbo had a few problems: the roux was too blond, it was served over slightly crunchy wild rice instead of the soft white version that's a staple in Louisiana, and there were chunks of carrots mixed with the Andouille sausage, chicken and shrimp.
I told the waiter that mixing carrots and gumbo is a culinary apostasy. That's how gumbo might be made in Jackson or Tupelo, I said, but not in southern Louisiana. His response: "What should we put in it instead?"
Sigh . . . I tried as best I could to explain that gumbo doesn't really need any vegetables other than the trinity -- onions, celery and bell pepper. Anything else, I said, and you're on the verge of vegetable soup.
Don't get me wrong. I liked the gumbo. The stock had a rich, complex flavor, and the sausage (supplied by Niman Ranch in California) was the best I've tasted outside Louisiana. Still, it would be better and more authentic if the chef left out the orange bits next time.
When it came to beer, Ritual did everything right. I downed a glass of local draught, Green Flash Nut Brown Ale, that was served at the perfect temperature -- just below room temp.
The menu, so far, is limited to a single page, but all of the items are tempting and the prices are reasonable. I paid $14 for my dish and $5 for the beer. Entre prices ranged from $11 for a hamburger and fries to $19 for lamb tenderloin.
A street-front window lets diners on the deck look into the kitchen. I think this guy is the chef.
Here's the view across 30th Street from my table. That's a coffee shop on the right and a naughty bookstore on the left. The bus stop is a popular late-night hangout for transgender escorts and the occassional hustler and drug dealer.