Last night, we celebrated a friend’s birthday and we decided to give the newly opened The Ranch Restaurant & Saloon in Anaheim a try. The restaurant is beautiful, stylish, ranch-style interior with dark woods, and like one of my girlfriends said “very manly”. It was too dark to take photos of the interior, but if you visit their website, there are some lovely photos you can look at.
It was also the start of restaurant week and what I really liked about the menu here was that they selected items off their regular menu instead of creating a whole different one for this event. There were three choices for appetizer, entree and dessert and we tried all of them. The 3-course menu is $40 for dinner but I have included the regular a la carte pricing for your reference.
Hawaiian Big Eye Tuna Crudo ($14) were thick slices of sushi-grade tuna dressed with aji amarillo chile, sweet naval orange and avocado cream. The slightly tart sauce with a little kick was a perfect way to start the meal by giving those taste-buds an awakening.
Organic Baby Spinach Salad ($10) with Sierra Nevada goat cheese, Bosc pears, candied walnuts, sun-dried cranberries is great for vegetarians and even those who are not will enjoy it. I especially liked the radicchio which off-set the sweet tart flavors with a touch of spicy bitterness.
I’m a huge fan of onion soup and whenever I see it on the menu I always order it. Five Onion Soup ($9) with aged Gruyere, yesterday’s bread and Guinness is rich and hearty with soft onions and a strong cheesy topping. I love Guinness and could totally taste it in the broth. Definitely a winner in my book!
When the entrees arrived, I was very surprised to see full-sized portions. I asked our server if these were the same size as the a la carte menu and she said yes. This is very rare for restaurant week which impressed me even more.
Petite Filet of Beef ($30) is tender with a nice meaty taste. Usually, I’m not a big fan of filet because it tends to have less flavor than other cuts but this was surprisingly robust. Butternut squash, sundried cherries, cipollini onions and Tennessee truffles accompanied.
The star of the evening was Confit of Muscovy Duck Leg (which is the only dish not currently on the a la carte menu). I think we were all in agreement that the meat was tender while the skin was crisped to absolute perfection. I could find no fault with this, not with the duck, nor with the accoutrements of beluga lentils, house made guanciale and baby root vegetables.
We were also surprised by Skuna Bay Salmon ($25) served with black quinoa, California pistachios, vine-dried grapes and tangerine nage. The fish was moist, tender and melt-in-your-mouth. Everyone loved the quinoa and the citrusy sauce which lined the plate. We were all skeptical about ordering salmon because of past experiences with it being overcooked, but no, it was perfect.
By now we were all pretty full and quite blown away by what we’ve eaten. But we still had dessert to come. I was quite happy at this point and couldn’t care less if I got my dessert or not, but I did try all three of them.
Old Fashioned Pecan Pie surprised me. I honestly didn’t think I’d like it. There is no crust — a definite plus — and it wasn’t overly sweet — another plus! I think the fact that it was sweetened with honey might have something to do with it. Topped with a delightful Jack Daniels ice cream, candied kumquats and garden blackberries, this was indeed a lovely treat.
I’ve always liked creme brulee and Tahitian Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee did not disappoint. The texture was creamy and the caramelized top was also done well. It was frankly a very good creme brulee. Lemon poppy seed madeleines accompanied.
PBJ & Milk Chocolate Bar was too heavy after our big meal, but I absolutely loved the Concord grape fruit ‘gelée‘ the bar was sitting on. I wanted more of the grape and less of the peanut butter bar. The caramelized banana ice cream was also incredible! I probably would’ve been happy with a big scoop of this for my dessert. I wonder if it can be arranged?
I’ve never been terribly impressed by restaurant week menus, but The Ranch definitely won me over. This is a place I would feel comfortable coming back to and bringing friends along for a celebration or for no reason whatsoever than just to have a great meal! They have set the bar pretty high for OCRW 2012 that’s for sure! If you dine at just ONE restaurant this week — go to The Ranch. It’s worth every penny of the $40!
The Ranch Restaurant & Saloon
1025 E Ball Road
Anaheim, CA 92805