Thursday, May 17, 2012

Moseying Down to the Ranch

The Ranch Restaurant 
1025 E. Ball Road
Anaheim, CA 92805

It is all about change. For the last six years my family has been going to Mr. Stox to celebrate our family holidays. The months of May and early June are filled with birthdays and anniversaries, almost every other day during this time of year for us. Wanting something a little different, my Mom made reservations for a new restaurant in Anaheim, The Ranch Restaurant and Saloon. 

The Ranch Restaurant could not be in a stranger place. Located in an industrial area of Anaheim, on the ground floor of the six story Extron Headquarters. This restaurant is the lifelong dream of the owner and founder of Extron, Andrew Edwards. He wanted to create a a place that honors his love of dancing to country music, while paying homage to some of the great country clubs of OC's past, the Crazy Horse and the Palomino Club. 

The Saloon and the Restaurant are under the same roof, but have different entrances. Both have different menus as well. We were actually going to be eating at the Saloon, until my parents found out there was going to be a five dollar cover charge per person. Not wanting to spend an extra $30, (and sparing my ears from listening to country music), we opted to eat in the Ranch Restaurant instead. 

We got to the Ranch at 5:30 on a Sunday night, just after they had opened. For being in such an awkward place, the restaurant and mainly the saloon were filling up quick. The restaurant is dominated by polished dark wood. The feel is very contemporary. The seasonally driven menu is anchored by American regional cuisine, and the kitchen is lead by Chef Michael Rossi, formerly of Napa Rose, and numerous other great restaurants. His resume is rather impressive. Keeping his family close, his brother is the pastry chef here.  With these guys at the helm, I was really looking forward to what they had in store for us, so lets take a look.

After we were seated we were brought their bread basket, or as they call it, The Wagon Wheel. 7 different kinds of rolls including, Jalapeno, Squaw, Multi Grain, and others that I could not write down fast enough as they were recited to me. I tried three of these, and they were all really good. The jalapeno was my favorite. I know, big shock. They were not shy about refilling this bread basket either. 

Even after the Wagon Wheel, we were presented with even more carbs, in the form of their signature item, Freshly Baked Popovers ($6), served with creamy butter and preserves. The popovers really reminded me of a Yorkshire pudding. I was not as happy with these as others at the table. The house made preserves and the butter helped, but I felt these needed more substance behind them. They were hollow inside, and I thought the outside was a little over done. Everyone else really liked these, so I was definitely in the minority about these popovers. 

I was the only one to order a salad at the Ranch, and that was a good thing because this Caesar Salad ($11) may not look big in the picture, but it was very good sized. All six of us tried at least a few bite of this, and there was still plenty left over when the bowl got back to me. I enjoyed the subtle creamy garlic dressing on here, and there was plenty of it, along with a good amount of Sonoma dry jack cheese also. A good combination. My one complaint would be the size of the lettuce, it was too hard to handle because of its large size. Needed to be cut in smaller leafs. Good salad though.

It is entree time, so lets start with Katie's dinner for the evening, the Maplewood Smoked Free Range Chicken ($22). This half chicken was served on top of a rustic bread salad, which seems like just a fancy way of saying stuffing. I usually do not order chicken in restaurants because most are very dry, not the case here. The bird was juicy, had a great au jus to accompany it, and went well with the bread salad. One of the best chicken dishes I have had in a restaurant. 

After much perusing of the menu my Dad settled on the British Columbia Skuna Bay Salmon ($25). This hunk of fish was served with an interesting assortment of items including, black quinoa, pistachios, vine dried grapes, and a tangerine nage. My Dad called this good and moist, with a light sear to it. The sauce was a little on the fruity side, but it all went well together. He was pleased with his choice.

Unlike the rest of us, my Mom knew she would be getting the Classic Pub Style Fish and Chips ($21) before she even sat down at the table. The fish and chips at the Ranch are made with Icelandic Haddock, and covered in a batter made with Anchor Steam. The result was a light breading that was very flavorful, and not greasy at all. Not only were the fries stacked Jenga style, but they were well seasoned as well. My Mom would not hesitate to get this again.

This handsome looking entree belonged to my Brother in Law, Jarrod. The Colorado Grass Fed Lamb Chops ($35) drew praise from him, and everyone that tried this plate. The lamb was served with sweet potatoes, whole grain mustard, and pecan spatzle. Jarrod felt this was a well put together plate. The lamb was tender and cooked perfectly, but he felt the portion size of this was a little light. 

I needed two pictures here, because I wanted to show you the thickness of this Prime Rib ($44). Not only was this thick, but it was called, "the best prime rib I have ever had!", by my brother in law. It was cooked a wonderful medium rare, and melted as you were eating this. The meat was paired with a white cheddar scalloped  potato. My sister was a big fan of these potatoes. Very cheesy, without losing the taste of the well   cooked potatoes. 

Confit of Muscovy Duck Leg ($26) was my dinner on this night. I never thought ducks had such meaty legs. There was a lot of meat here. Not as greasy as some duck dishes can tend to be. The skin here had a great crispiness to it. The meat, while not greasy, still provided a great amount of smoky flavor. The duck was served with baby root vegetables and Beluga lentils. I had a hard time envisioning lentils with this plate, but they worked very well here. The root veggies were also cooked fork tender. Great plate.

Side dishes are sold separately at the Ranch. We ordered three for our table of six, and had plenty to pass around and share. The Green Bean and Mushroom Casserole ($7) was definitely a crowd favorite. This is actually Grandma's recipe, and it reminded my sister of the holidays. It had a wonderful creaminess and came out scalding hot. The Creamed Spinach ($7) was a solid side item. I am in search of my favorite creamed spinach in OC, and this one is in the running. Like the green bean casserole, this needed some time to cool down. I would have liked a little more creaminess, but the spinach was spot on good. The Idaho Russet Mashed Potatoes ($6) were light and fluffy, and full of butter. A winning combination. 

I am not usually a big fan of deconstructed desserts, but we ordered two of them. The first is this PBJ and Milk Chocolate Bar ($8). This peanut butter and jelly based dessert had a little bit of everything. Concord grape jelly, caramelized banana ice cream, and of course peanut butter and chocolate. Very good, but a little hard to get all of the tastes into one bite. 

The S'More with a Twist was the other dessert we got. I love s'mores, and this dessert really nailed the taste of the campfire treat. The chocolate was twisted alongside a graham cracker ice cream, hazelnut crunch and marshmallow fluff. The ice cream really did have the graham cracker taste down. I would have liked a little more marshmallow on this though. 

To be honest, when I heard we were going to the Ranch Restaurant I was not too excited. I had looked at the menu and was not wowed by it. After eating here though, I can say they have a new fan. I have been won over. Everything that I tried was so great. The menu is not huge, there are 12 items to choose from, but whichever one you choose you will be in for a treat. The service was outstanding. Our waiter Arron, really made us feel welcome, and he gave us some great suggestions. You can tell he tales great pride in his work. The vibe at the restaurant was not what I had expected either. I thought it would be a honky tonk atmosphere, but it was more of an upscale country vibe. Music did not drift into the restaurant at all, even though the Saloon is under the same roof. The Ranch Restaurant made for a great place to celebrate our family holidays. I think they have not seen the last of us. I feel bad for them already!

Out of five dinner bells, (because on a ranch they ring the dinner bell for dinner time, and if they are serving food as good as this, you will not want to be late), five being best to zero being worst, The Ranch Restaurant gets 4.5 dinner bells. 

For more information about The Ranch Restaurant, click here:

THE RANCH Restaurant & Saloon on Urbanspoon

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