During my stay in Irving, Texas for Zest Fest 2012 I had the opportunity to dine at The Ranch. Being among so many folks who appreciate good food and the tastier side of life puts one in the mood for fine eating with just a bit of the 'out of the ordinary' fare.
I found The Ranch after checking the web, using the free wireless in to my room at ALoft. Doing a quick search for places nearby using three simple letters - 'BBQ' brought more than a few choices. Hey, this is Texas - if you can't find BBQ you are really not trying that hard. After looking at a few menus from several places I decided to head on over to The Ranch and have a bite.
As this was a Saturday night on the outskirts of Dallas the place was packed. Lucky for me I was traveling alone this trip and scoring a table for one was no big deal. Tried not to smirk as I past groups of folks waiting for tables. Got one of those high tables with the backed barstools with a great view of the place. People watching time.
Have to say a good word about the server, Brian. Super nice guy, always stopping by the table just when I needed something, yet never asking if everything was good just when I had a mouth full.
Sometimes when going to a new place I like to just get a few things listed on the appetizer menu to get a feel for the place. Here is a quick rundown of my first meal at The Ranch. I told Brian that I would be eating just a few 'starters' with a 'beer or two' and he said bringing the dishes out one at a time would be no problem. During the meal a couple of Texas brews were 'on tap' - yeah man! I just can't hang out at a bbq joint or a steak house without some of that amber goodness!
The first glass of beer was Rio Blanco Pale Ale. This fine beer is brewed by Real Ale Brewing in Blanco, TX. The write up said they use Czech Saaz hops. worked for me! Great flavor, served nice and cold, just the way I like it. The Pale Ale is a very clear beer not cloudy like some micro brews. The aroma is nice, not over-powering. Taste was not as 'hoppy' as some with a slight spicy bite to it. Most beer snobs may call it weak, but I liked it & I would highly recommend this beer.
First up on the appetizer parade: Venison Sausage Gumbo / This dish was nice and thick without being sticky. There was an underlying heat without being overly spicy. Though I am a spice guy, I like to taste the food and not just heat. In the bowl were lots of shrimp of the 31/40 size, nicely cooked and very crisp. The thin sliced sausage was smokey & had a nice meaty taste. I do not get to eat venison enough, and it sure is a treat to find that taste in this dish. The rice was not added as a filler and was thankfully not the center of the dish and the okra was fresh.
Round Two: Mini Kobe Beef Tacos / When the three tacos were placed in front of me I was surprised to see them filled with ground meat instead of cubed. This feeling turned aound as soon as I took the first bite. A snappy shell that did not completely crumble when bit into, nice! The beef ad an excellent taste, moist and full of beef flavor. Along with this was the warm heat of the spices, once again just right & not over done. This was not a plate of over sauced tacos that require a roll of paper towels to get through. The meat was really done well and was not dripping with sauce or grease that I have had in the past. Lightly topped with fresh tomatoes & onions which were snappy fresh. I could have gone for another plate!
The second glass of beer was a Fireman's 4 Blonde Ale, which is also brewed by Real Ale Brewery. Brian told me that this was the most popular brew in the house so I took his word for it and ordered one. Brian did say that if I was disappointed the glass would be 'on the house'. Sold. I could not lie and get a free beer, this was a nice brew. Had a good, clean taste. A clean & light taste which was very smooth. I could taste a hint of citrus in this well balanced beer. Yeah, two great brews from Real Ale!
Third Course: Smoked Brisket Stack / I had saved this for last and was glad I did. Three little sandwiches served on a mesquite log which made a real nice presentation. The brisket was sliced bbq perfection, tender and juicy ribbons of beef with just the right amount of smoke. The DrPepper sauce is something I would truly want to duplicate at home. There was just the right amount of sauce as well, it was a pleasure to eat without drenching myself. The slaw served on top was bright and tangy, and had a very big crunch to it, showing off it's freshness. All this was served on brioche buns, buttery & perfect for these sandwiches. I could have had two or three more helpings of these, they were so good.
|Smoked Brisket Stacks w/ Fireman's #4 Ale|
|Good To The Last Bite!|
In spite of the busyness of the night, there was not a rush to get me to get the meal done and get moving. Even though I was having items off of the appetizer menu Brian only brought the next one after the previous one was finished. That was really cool, and everything was steaming hot when I got to dig in.
One thing that was on the menu is something that I have been wanting to try for a long time but is a menu item I have yet to find at a restaurant. Chicken & Waffles! This is a combination that has always mystified me and from what I hear, is so darn good when done right. When I mentioned to Brian that I'd be in the following day for to try some more new things he told me that The Ranch was closed on Sundays! So, once again I was denied tasting for what has turned out to be the elusive Chicken & Waffles!
All in all, dinner at The Ranch was Very, Very Good. A happenin' place with a lively crowd. The staff was efficient and not at all pushy. Food and drink of the highest quality!
If you find yourself in the Dallas area, do yourself a favor and dine at The Ranch, just make sure you are not wanting a Sunday dinner.
As Always - Thank you for reading.
As Always - Thank you for reading.