There's a new Ritual in the West End—and tipping is not a part of it.
On March 26, owner Nevada Cope opened her restaurant at 774 Denman Street, taking over the space from the Asian bistro Shibuya Nuts.
Cope, who previously worked as the Italian Cultural Centre executive chef, told the Georgia Straight in an interview that her preparations involved two years of planning and eight months of renovations.
She transformed the dark, black-and-blue space with a dropped ceiling into its polar opposite: a bright, inviting, and airy room. In fact, she even served as general contractor ("I will never do that again," she said).
"I wanted to create something that was kind of rustic, and almost like home, kind of a homey feel, but more modern, hence the white and lighter colours contrasting the rustic [wood] bar top," she said of the 48-seater room.
Comfort food (for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner) is the operative word here for the menu. Cope, who grew up in Abbotsford being inspired by farming culture, said she wants to keep things fun and do whatever she wants. Thus, Ritual's menu, displayed on a chalkboard, will be ever-changing.
"I feel like a lot of restaurants in Vancouver kinda take themselves a little too seriously and I just wanted to lighten it up."
Selections riff on pop culture.
There are Mickey Mouse–shaped buttermilk pancakes with chocolate chips, berries, whipped cream, and maple syrup ($15); Swedish meatballs (a nod to IKEA), with Yukon gold mash, cranberry sauce, and Dijon herb pan gravy ($23); and daily handpies—think handmade pies shaped into Pop Tarts ($7).
There are also—believe it or not—spicy potato-tater Twinkies: jalapeno, cheddar, and herb mashed potatoes rolled into a Twinkie shape and deep-fried with tomato chutney ($12).
Yes, baked goods comprise the backbone of the menu, with what Cope calls "hearty baked fare" such as pies, biscuits, and bread.
In fact, as she spoke, Hawaiian Bunz were being prepared for the oven, to be filled with teriyaki pulled pork and pineapple compote ($14).
Speaking of which, fusion cuisine is another recurring theme. There's, for example, chicken mole with Canadian einkorn and gai lan ($23).
For vegetarians, there's braised chickpeas in a tomato sauce, with a soft-poached egg, market vegetables, and ciabatta toast ($19).
The drinks menu is also adventurous, with the likes of muddled mimosas (muddled citrus, prosecco, orange juice; $11), the Barrister's Breakfast, with rye, coffee, root beer bitters, amaretto, and cinnamon ($12), and Havana-style iced coffee ($6).
Regarding the prices, keep in mind that tipping is not necessary at this establishment. Cope said she was inspired by the no-tipping trend at restaurants in the U.S. and Australia.
She wanted to try it out and found that it's gone over well so far. Instead of tipping, she welcomes donations to A Loving Spoonful, the volunteer-run organization that provides free meals to people living with HIV or AIDS.
"A lot of the world actually doesn't tip so it's kind of an American thing that is a little strange to me," she said.
Will Vancouverites embrace the idea of no tipping on a wider scale? Well, we'll have to wait and see if it catches on as a trend here but for now, there's at least this tip-free option.