Like many of us who straddle two or more countries in terms of our residence and our family’s residence, we look forward to visiting our family in California every summer. Apart from spending time with family, the most exciting factor that makes us count down the days to crossing the Atlantic is food! My family and I are foodies in every sense of the word and exploring new places to eat is always something we look forward to in any country we visit. My brother and sister-in-law, fellow foodies, are the designated family members in-charge of the noble effort of finding new eating establishments that we can all contribute our collective earnings to all summer long!
For the past year, they have been telling us that we must go to this new restaurant they had the pleasure of visiting, that was more than just a place to eat but rather a great eating and entertainment experience called ‘The Ranch’ restaurant and saloon in Anaheim, Orange County, California (not far from Disneyland and the Anaheim Convention Center). We had a reservation for last Saturday and I called ahead of time to introduce myself and ask if it was OK for me to take pictures for my blog. I spoke with David Grant, the General Manager, who was incredibly helpful and kind enough to give us a private tour of the whole operation from private dining kitchen and wine cellar to main restaurant and saloon.
The Ranch is split into the main restaurant and the saloon area, both offering very different but attractive environments. I particularly appreciated the great attention to detail such as wall decor stylishly crafted with leather belts and the state of the art sound and acoustics thanks to the expertise of Extron Elecronics, the company owned by the founder of the Ranch, Andrew Edwards.The tour of the building was fascinating with state-of-the art audio visual technology that would make the Tony Stark’s home look passé – drop down screens, cutting edge sound systems and insulation that would be fit for the Oval Office!
The saloon part of the establishment is a country music night club that has an exciting vibe with live music and a large dance floor. Guests can enjoy a country dance disco from their very own private dining booths overlooking the dance floor where smartly turned out cowboys and cowgirls were all having a great time! Don’t be fooled – this may be the place for 2-step but it’s no place for those that have two left feet. Many of patrons are ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and it was truly wonderful to see all the dancing talent burning up the floor! Apparently, everyone is very helpful if you are a beginner and encourage you to join in and enjoy the country dancing.
The restaurant and saloon are housed on the ground floor of the multi-story building and some of the other floors contain private dining rooms that have different capacities (with panoramic views of Disneyland fireworks from the private balconies) and are available to book for conference and banqueting events. All private events catering is cooked to order and this is no mean feat when you have hundreds of hungry stomachs to satisfy at important functions such as weddings. I was highly impressed with the private kitchen that is reserved for preparing the custom food for events – they were actually plating an appetizer when we went in for a look and I had to work hard to resist not pinching one of those jumbo prawns that came fresh off the chef’s table. I would host a function here in a heartbeat!
The whole concept of ‘The Ranch’ is based on The Edwards Ranch Estates private farm in the foothills of Orange County which is less than 20 miles away from the very place where the culinary maestro and his team work their magic. In line with the philosophy of seasonal freshness and natural produce, The Ranch has a four season framework ensuring not only that all food is cooked only when in season, but that diners are afforded the variety that they so look forward to.
We had the pleasure of meeting Michael Rossi , the Executive Chef, and his fellow Pastry Chef (and brother) David Rossi before we ate. One of the most fantastic dishes I ever tasted was the tomato salad – it was hard for us to get our head around how amazing a simple fresh tomato dish can taste! All the produce (including the tomatoes) comes from the private farm that is home to over 600 Heirloom Tomato vines featuring 90 different varieties of tomatoes. Our group of six people ordered various dishes and while the steak was excellent, the Colarado grass-fed lamb chops were to die for and well cooked and simply plated sea bass was excellent. As I have mentioned before, I am sugar addict and a self-styled guru of deserts and the popcorn ice cream was stunning (and I don’t even normally like ice-cream). This is a creation of Pastry Chef David Rossi and if there was ever a Nobel Prize for ice cream, this one would win this hands down!
The cocktails were truly world class and after having had the privilege of seeing the range of “farm inspired cocktails” which showcase a fascinating selection of in-house infused spirits such as Buffalo Trace infused with Valencia oranges, watermelon infused Purity vodka and farm blueberry & lemon verbena infused Del Maguey Vida Mezcal with farm strawberry and lemon cordial. The wine list was very impressive from entry level reds and whites to suit the most constrained budgets all the way up to the Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon of Napa Valley fame which you might have to pawn your shiny Rolex for!
Some of our guests opted for a modestly-priced port to finish with, but if you are with bling company of the likes of P Diddy or Jay-Z, there is always the 1834 Malvasia Madeira! This time you may need to sell a kidney, and as you sip you can allow yourself to ponder over the fact that President Abraham Lincoln (16th US President) had not even reached office yet when this was bottled in 1834 (the GM did mention that the shiny new label reflected a cleanup of the bottle).
It’s one thing restaurants promoting fresh produce and farm to plate cuisine, it’s another thing tasting this freshness yourself as a diner. This place delivers impeccably produced and curated dishes that miss out the foo-foo-ness that comes with much high-end dining, and really deliver what they say – solid authentically created and delicious food. California and the USA as a whole has a wonderful reputation for high end steak restaurants, but this place has a myriad of eclectic offering that went far beyond steak and that most places would struggle to compete with. I would highly recommend a trip to The Ranch! Once you have finish traipsing around Disneyland with the kids you can treat yourself to The Ranch, a ‘Disneyland for the Mouth’ of sorts as described by General Manager David Grant.
I decided this evening would be a great time to wear one of my all time favorite black dresses – a one shoulder black dress that has some lovely bright turquoise and orange bead-work on the opposite shoulder. I think the sheer simplicity of this dress is a great nod to wearing a sophisticated look without being boring! This dress is also a fine testament to the fact that great fashion does not need to be a slave to price – I bought this dress years ago at T.J Maxx (the cousin of T.K Maxx in the UK) for approximately $20. I enjoy this dress every time I wear it and a simple pair of heels and some statement jewellery is all that is needed to dress it up!
Thank you so much for reading. You can visit The Ranch website at http://www.theranch.com
(Clothing and Accessories: Dress – Maggy London (T.J. Maxx), Earrings – Zara, Cuff – Vince Camuto, Shoes – Vince Camuto)