The Irvine Spectrum saw a new eatery open up recently. My son’s been anticipating it because he’s a huge barbecue fan, me, not so much! I don’t particularly like barbecue but I’ll eat it if the sauce leans towards the tart rather than sweet. However, the Spectrum needs more restaurants because the ones there are pretty boring and I am often stumped for ideas whenever I’m there.
I found out that Wood Ranch is a small chain started here in southern California. Although the menu is predominantly barbecue, there are other offerings to appease those like me who might not want their namesake dishes.
A basket of garlic rolls were placed on the table with soft butter to smear on the warm bread.
We started off some drinks and I suggest you do too. My doctor will kill me if she knew I’ve been drinking. She keeps telling me NOT to drink but how could I resist the Super Premium Margarita ($11). It was absolutely fantastic. Patron Reposado, Cointreau with a blend of freshly squeezed lime and orange juice was so easy to drink — very dangerous!
Austin ordered the Raspberry Ranch Lemonade ($9) an adult version of a beloved children’s thirst-quencher with Cruzan Raspberry Rum, fresh lemonade and fresh raspberries. It was refreshing and very fruity albeit a tad too sweet for me.
We started with Grilled Balsamic Shrimp ($9.95), a plate of 10 beautifully cooked shrimp on a bed of crunchy balsamic-dressed coleslaw. I was pleasantly surprised at how tasty this dish was and I was also happy with the portion size.
Chicken Tortilla Soup ($4.95) threw me off with its thick pureed texture. There were bits of shredded chicken and a few tortilla strips, but my mind couldn’t get around this version of tortilla soup. I wanted bits of corn, beans, I wanted to see the cilantro. I managed to get a hint of the taste of what tortilla soup is all about, but here, it was lost in translation.
By now I had finished my margarita and wanted another — I hope my doctor doesn’t read my blog! Our server suggested I get the larger size drink served in a beer mug ($19) — a la Oktoberfest — and I’m glad I did. The delicious drink was addictive and I could’ve have another of these mugfuls had I not driven that evening. Like I said earlier — DANGEROUS!
Our Buckeye Burger ($11.95) was really quite good. The barbecue sauce had a hint of sweetness, mostly tart, and didn’t overpower the burger. I loved the smokiness of it and the beef patty was moist and cooked to our desired temperature.
Of course we couldn’t go without at least trying one barbecue item and decided upon WR Tri Tip ($14.95). I like how it wasn’t sliced but served whole. It keeps the meat warm for longer and it also doesn’t dry the meat out. The tri tip was tender, moist and frankly, really quite decent even to my finicky BBQ palate.
Two sides are thrown in with the barbecue items. Mac n cheese was very disappointing. It was dry and gummy, on the bland side — I wouldn’t order it again! The peanut coleslaw was a whole other story. This was absolutely stunning. I loved the light dressing it was tossed in and the peanuts gave it a wonderful textural component that is unique and different.
Service is stellar here. Everyone is friendly, happy and constantly smiling, and even if a server is not serving you, he or she will make eye contact, and engage you. They actually look like they enjoy working here which is awesome!
I’m not usually a fan of chains, but I’m definitely coming back for a cocktail or two, or maybe even three — but I’m going to bring a designated driver along when I do visit! Those cocktails are just too good to pass up on!
Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill
at The Irvine Spectrum Center
57 Fortune Drive
Irvine, CA 92618