This is a review of “The Ramos House” a charming little restaurant set in an old wooden house in the historic San Juan Capistrano. Specifically the restaurant is located in the Los Rios district, the oldest residential street in California dating back to 1794. The structure of the building is made of weathered shingles, reminding you of a house along a lonely railroad track in a Clint Eastwood movie. Guests are seated in the central patio garden, which affords shaded natural light and views of the historic train depot. If you read my blog post about ”The Vintage Steakhouse”, it is located just across the tracks.
The sun was shining and there was a pleasant breeze coming in from the ocean, it was a nice day. The rustic setting is accentuated by their use of wood plank tables, mason jars for glasses and bunches of rosemary at the tables. The ambiance provides a feeling that you are away from the city.
We showed up on a Sunday, looking for either a nice brunch for my Mother’s birthday. We were informed that on weekends, they only offer a set price brunch menu which includes your choice of a drink (including mimosa), starter and main course for $35. This price seemed just a little on the high side, but decied to give it a try. The next question, could the food WOW! me enough to make it worthwhile?
The food served at the Ramos House can be described as Modern American Comfort Food with a Southern flare. The Menu items are cooked to order and ingredients are seasonal. Based on the smells coming from the kitchne, I had really high hopes for the food.
The brunch menu includes a choice of starter, main course and beverage
Beverage (Choice of One):
- Coffee, Tea, Juice, Champagne, Etc
Starters(Choice of One):
- Small Plate of Smoked Salmon Lox w/ Herb Sauce & Toast Points
- Sweet Corn Hush Puppies w/ Sweet Pepper Jam
- Fresh Baked Huckleberry Coffee Cake
- Cinnamon Apple Bignets
- Caramelized Citrus Salad
- Small Soup or Salad
Main Course(Choice of One):
- Strawberry Basil Pain Perdu
- Wild Mushroom, Roasted Garlic & Sundried Tomato Scramble
- Smoked Bacon Scramble w/ Rocket & Caramelized Onions
- Smoked Salmon Lox w/ Herb Sauce & Toast Points
- Duck Hash w/ Wild Mushroom Eggs & Herb Sauce
- Flannel Hash w/ Fried Poached Eggs & Sour Cream Hollandaise
- Crab Hash w/ Bacon Scrambled Eggs & Sour Cream Remoulade
- White Bean Soup w/ Goat Cheese & Wild Mushroom Rillet
- Smoked Chicken Salad w/ Cranberries, Hush Puppy Croutons & Pumpkin
- Seed Buttermilk Dressing
- Mac n’ Cheese w/ Smoked Veggies & Lemon Gremolada
- Duck Cakes w/ Baby Spinach & Warm Mustard Dressing
- Spicy Crab Cake Salad
What We Ordered
Cinnamon Apple Bignets
This bignet dish came with four bite sized dark golden brown bignets served with a sugar sauce and dusted with powdered sugar. When you crack open the bignet, you can see that there are small pieces of apple speckled into the fried dough. When you bite into the bignet, the exterior is crispy from the quick deep fry; as you crunch down, the texture of the warm doughy interior erupts. As you chew further, you feel firmness and flavor of the baked apple chunks. The flavor of the bignet is sweet with a slight savory from the deep fry. The nose flavor is of baked green apples and fried bread. This was an extremely enjoyable dish and had a good balance of flavors.
The Fruit and Panna Cotta
This dish included grilled peaches slices, black berries, plums, blue berries and almond slivers – This was a simple dish but executed nicely as the low PH sweet cheese balanced well with the acidic berries and grilled stone fruit. A good light opening dish and was refreshing with eaten with the bignets.
Crab Cake Salad
The salad had a nice bed of mixed greens including arugula, mezzula, watercress and mustard leaves giving the salad a little bit of a peppery bite . The salad appeared to be tossed with a very light vinaigrette, just enough to add body to the salad. The salad was host to two medium-sized crab cakes. The crab cakes had a nice dark golden brown bread crumb crust and appeared to be relatively solidified together.The salad was then drizzled with a chipotle dressing
Crab Hash w/ Bacon Scrambled Eggs and Sour Cream Remoulade.
This dish was presented nicely, although the menu name does not match the actual dish. This dish is composed of scrambled eggs with bacon and stacked with two crab cakes (same ones on the crab cake salad), then covered in fried onions and a dollop of sour cream remoulade.
The eggs were cooked to perfection as they were fluffy and had a clean egg flavor that was accented by the salty bacon protein. The crab cakes had a great pan roasted crispiness on the outside and gooey softness on the inside.. The cakes were obviously made with real crab meat, although it appears that there was too much filler. This filler reduced the overall crab flavor of the dish.
The Country Fried Chicken Salad
This dish had the same salad base of the crab cake salad but instead topped with two chicken loins, deep-fried in a butter milk and corm meal beading (Southern home style). The chicken was well seasoned and crunchy on the outside and juicy flesh. The salad was then topped with a generous drizzle of butter milk dressing. The dressing had a sweet butter milk flavor that matched well with the peppery salad and savory chicken It was also served with two pieces of soft and fluffy corn bread.
My Final Thoughts
I though that this was a charming restaurant with lots of character and very good dishes. Although, despite the good quality of the food, the the brunch was over priced. The food just did not have enough WOW! factor to make me feel comfortable with the price tag. I give this restaurant a 3.5 out of 5, meaning it was a good dining experience and would come again, especially if I wanted to sit outdoors. Although, their set price on the weekend would act as a rate limiter for how often I dine with them. I would recommend this restaurant to family and friends, although I would explain to them what they should expect.
Some considerations before dining at the Ramos House
- Parking can be difficult, I suggest you park across the tracks at the AMTRAK parking structure
- This restaurant is not kid friendly (at all)- in fact they actively discourage families – If you show up asking for a kids menu, you are out of luck. Your 2-year-old will be charged $35 even if they just eat the scraps off your plate.
- Since this restaurant is located on a patio, it is subject to extremes of temperatures. For your comfort, blankets are available if cold and umbrellas help block the sun. Be sure to bring sun glasses.
- This restaurant is on the railroad tracks, so expect momentary noise when the AMTRAK passes
- The Brunch is expensive for what you get
- You should try the bloody mary and get the scotch egg topper
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