The Red Cat Kitchen Hits The Ritz. That’s a hashtag you’ll see on Instagram and Facebook. What does this mean for all of us you might wonder?
Well, it means that we can all access the amazing food by chef Ben DeForest. By accessible, I mean meals that are $12 and under, and a daily “Blue Plate Special” that’s $10.
Ben has been sneaking into The Ritz since he was 16, and since had an affection for “dive” bars. With this affection, also comes a love of its patrons. Add good food to the mix, and there’s the trifecta. And don’t forget that Ben enjoys jamming out every now and then with band, an added bonus.
Ben’s restaurant, Red Cat, has won a number of awards and has become one of the best places to dine on Martha’s Vineyard. In that tiny kitchen, he creates food that leaves people speechless. He never gets tired of bringing people joy with his food. However, not everyone can enjoy the Red Cat experience.
Everyone can now at The Ritz. Here, Ben still uses great ingredients, like pickles from Rock Pond and Island eggs (without the $2 up-charge) and creates food that is still amazing but is affordable too.
The menu is easy to understand, nothing exotic or hard to pronounce. It’s back to basics, basics done well. It’s like diner food that’s been elevated to a gourmet status, but at a dive bar.
In this other tiny kitchen, Ben makes food that feeds hungry people, for a good price. Crossing the alley from Red Cat to The Ritz seems crazy to some, but here he makes delicious food for everyone. The plan is to be year-round and that this will continue for several years.
For Ben, it’s the perfect triad. He’s got Red Cat, creates the menu for The Ritz, and works with the Tiny Baker (Erica McCaron) who is the pastry chef at Red Cat, Mocha Motts, and now The Ritz. It’s three iconic Oak Bluffs places all working together, elevating the food scene.
Food For Thought
Ok, so I know many of you might be thinking, “You want me to eat at the Ritz?” I am telling you that and yes you should eat at The Ritz.
First of all, I don’t think I could ever convey how good the food is there now. Yes the Tex-Mex introduced last year was good, but the food now is stupid good. Also, the bar has evolved over the last year and a half. It’s become one of the hottest night spots for a lot of people on the Island.
Also, the space is going to continue to evolve, and before the music comes on. It is more conducive to dining. There are family style tables upstairs and plenty of room by the bar. I particularly like the little nook by the front window.
Now that I’ve gotten that out, it’s time to talk food. When I met with Ben, he offered to whip up a couple of things for me to try. Being a lover of food, how could I not? He started with Stewart’s Littleneck Chowder. Chowder is not my favorite thing these days. I’ve eaten too much in the past.
However, this masterpiece makes me eat my words. Ben’s chowder has no butter or flour in, gluten free my friends. It is light and fragrant, and tastes unbelievably fresh.
I consumed the whole bowl, missing valuable note taking, because I was so committed to this soup. Dip the buttered bread it’s served with, and you are at peace in the world. I can’t stop thinking about it. It is $9 but it’s a meal, and worth every penny.
Then he served up the “Blue Plate Special” which happened to be short ribs, served with mashed and green beans. No surprise, the meat was fall apart tender and absolutely amazing and only $10. For real, no joke, $10. Patrons at The Ritz were loving this dish.
There was talk about more food for me to try but I had to decline. I had just eaten two meals for lunch. Gluttony took over and I was under the spelll of well seasoned, beautifully presented food.
However, I would like to try the Fishcakes and Tarter Sauce with Lloyd’s Organic Pea Shoots and Some Other Stuff, The Reliable Burger on the Square (it’s square like Wendy’s), perhaps the Linguini and Balls or Ben’s current favorite the “White Boy” Enchiladas (homage to Larkin and Jackie’s Texas roots).
Some Other Stuff
When you look at the menu, you’ll see “Some Other Stuff” as sides. This is the perfect way for Ben to mix up the sides, sometimes daily or sometimes with the next dish.
There’s some of his humor sprinkled throughout the menu. They’ll catch your eye and perhaps make you grin. It’s actually quite perfect for The Ritz.
Also, note that the menu is an evolution. It’s currently menu number 5, so be prepared for changes the next time you visit. Ben likes to keep busy.
Things Get Sweet At The Ritz
In addition to chatting with Ben, the Tiny Baker herself, Erica, joined us. Not only can you satisfy your savory side but your sweet tooth can be indulged as well.
Erica is baking desserts for The Ritz, “Dive Desserts.” She has become one of the most talented dessert makers on the Island, and how great is it that she is bringing this talent to The Ritz.
Think amazing vanilla creme brûlée, her famous cheesecakes and more. Erica is super creative and fun with her sweets. She’s even brought back “Dunkeroo’s,” a spin on a classic but with homemade frosting.
When I was there, one of the specials was Rocky Road Rice Krispy Treats. I had to have one. With little marshmallows and mini chocolate chips and peanuts, it looked scrumptious. I had to take it to go. I could’t eat another bite.
My husband and kids were very grateful for this amazing after-dinner treat. It got four thumbs up. What a funny pair these make in the kitchen. He’s, well, he’s big Ben and she is this petite fierce baker. I love this pic by Tim Johnson (below).
You can dine at The Ritz everyday from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. Don’t forget to checkout the “Blue Plate Special.” You can find it on the specials board or ask your server. During the holidays, look out for some specials, larger meals with a slightly higher price tag.
I look forward to hearing about your experience with lunch or dinner at The Ritz. Also, don’t forget that The Ritz has live music almost every night #bestlivediveontherock.
Be on the lookout for Red Cat Kitchen at Ken ‘n’ Beck opening again in Spring 2016.
Thanks for reading the On Point Blog. You can learn more about The Red Cat Kitchen Hits The Ritz on Facebook, including events and “Blue Plate” specials. Speaking of social media, don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter, Linked In, Google+, Pinterest and Youtube.
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2 thoughts on “Martha’s Vineyard Chef Ben DeForest Brings His Talent & Amazing Food To The Masses – The Red Cat Kitchen Hits The Ritz”
Wow! This looks incredible. It is about lunch time for me, and… wow. I shouldn’t be doing this right now.
Yes you should be doing this.