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Review of The Ranch Restaurant and Saloon – “I Fell in Love at the Ranch”

Review of The Ranch Restaurant and Saloon – “I Fell in Love at the Ranch”

Ranch ExteriorSometimes you experience a restaurant that changes your expectations of other restaurants. Like a new lover, The Ranch is the type of restaurant leaves you infatuated and desiring more.  The Ranch and Saloon was part founded by two of Orange County’s most respected restaurant industry veterans, Chef Michael Rossi and Master Sommelier Michael Jordan.  The restaurant actually has it’s own farm in the city of Orange where they grow most of their seasonal produce; many of the dishes are crafted or customized to what is in season at their ranch. I visited The Ranch on the last days of Orange County Restaurant week with Daniele from Dani’s Decadent Deals, Jamie from Mn Girl in LA. and her boyfriend David. Together we were able to order most items from the prix fixe menu. Here is what we ordered:

The Ranch's Bread Basket

Every meals comes with a variety bread basket, my favorite was the jalapeno


Laura Chenel Goat Cheese Raviolis – These raviolis are made with house made pasta that has beets mixed in to give it a pinkish hue. It is stuffed with goat cheese that comes from a small craft goat cheese producer in Sonoma, called Laura Chenel. It was plated with scarlet red beets, golden raisins, toasted walnuts all resting in a puddle of Valencia Orange sauce. The Valencia oranges and beets actually come from their farm. This ravioli was extremely well-balanced in flavor between the tangy creaminess of the goat cheese, sweet acidity from the orange sauce, and proteins in the walnuts.  This is a dish that I highly recommend next time you visit The Ranch.

Ranch appetizer Goat Cheese Ravioli

A delicious appetizer -Laura Chenel Goat Cheese

Ravioli Butternut Squash Soup – A creamy butternut squash soup base was formed with chunks of squash and small sweet shrimp. The butternut squash soup was then drizzled with a house made pepita (pumpkin seed) pesto sauce and braised leeks. This soup had several complex flavor layers. On the top of the cup,  the flavor was a blend of nutty, herbal flavors with a hint of acidity. Although as I spooned further in the the cup, I started to get the sweet elements from the shrimp and chunks of squash. If you order this dish, I encourage giving your table mates a taste of our soup, although I doubt that will happen after your first sip. 

Ranch Appetizer Squash Soup

The Butternut Squash Soup with a pepita pesto drizzle

Main Courses

Skuna Bay Salmon – I never order salmon at a restaurant because I can make a really good salmon at home; although I ordered it because our waiter, Aaron, “guaranteed I will like it.” Turns out he was right!  The salmon had a deep orange color and crispy skin, it looked like they pan seared the salmon and then finished it in the oven, resulting in a crispy skin and firm exterior. When I cut the salmon open, it was extremely juicy and had the thick muscle characteristics of wild salmon. When I bit down into the salmon, I was greeted with a rush of natural salmon juices, tender flesh and paired with the crispy skin. The dish was served with brocolini, black quinoa,  crispy pistachios  re-hydrated grapes and a  sweet tangerine sauce . This dish was a wonderful experience and yes I would order salmon again from The Ranch.  

Ranch Main Course Salmon

Skuna Bay Salmon with brocolini, black quinoa and a tangerine sauce

Certified Black Angus Steak Collate – The collate steak cut is also known as the top sirloin cap steak and it is literally the round cap of a sirloin  Although this is traditionally a tougher cut of steak, The Ranch did a really great job with aging and marination to create a  tender and flavorful steak.  The steak was cooked pink throughout, per our order,  and was extremely juicy. It was served over wild mushrooms, black truffle shavings and the rich steak glaze. The steak was served alongside a very impressive potato stack that contained celery root, Gruyere, and spinach.

Ranch Main Course Steak

The Steak Collate with their Gruyere Potato Stack

Confit of Muscovy Duck Leg – For those not familiar with Muscovy duck, it is a superior tasting duck specie due to it’s lower fat content (18%) does not have the oil gland which gives other ducks a strong persistent flavor. The dish was served with beluga lentils , baby root vegetables and  house made Guanciale (cured pork cheek…better than pancetta). The dish was presented in it’s own deglazed pan sauce. Our friend Jaime ordered the Muscovy Dug Leg and she said it was was very good and would definitely order it again.

Ranch Main Course Duck

The Muscovy Duck Leg –yummm!


Rustic Blueberry Crostata – A crostata is a Italian style pie in the form of a tart; in this case it was like having a personal blue berry pie! The crust of the tart was both flaky and puffed, creating a nice contrast in flavors. The blueberry pie filling was sweet and had just a slight tang to make it interesting.  It was served with a serving of cream fraiche ice cream and swirl of a delicious Meyer lemon curd. Together the flavors made my eyes roll back.

Ranch Dessert Tart

The Blueberry Crostata – Essentially a personal blueberry pie

PBJ & MILK CHOCOLATE BAR – The PBJ Milk Chocolate Bar was so good I felt the need to protect my plate for wandering forks. This dish started off with a thin sheet of concord grape jelly, then layers of graham cracker crust, a dense chocolate mouse, creamy peanut butter,  a delicious strip of caramelized cream and more graham cracker. I could be wrong about the ingredients in these layers, but the one this I know is that this dessert momentary sent me into a religious experience. The dish was served with crystallized banana ice cream, a subtle homage to Elvis’s favorite sandwich.

Ranch Dessert PBJ

The PBJ milk chocolate bar served with crystallized banana ice cream

My Final Thoughts

Steak Collate Close UpThe Ranch is a rare unicorn of a restaurant that is doing everything right from the profession wait staff, innovative cooking techniques, growing their own food and impressive wine list. During our visit, everything fell into place for a perfect dinning experience. I have to make a big call out for our waiter, Aaron, who provided one of the best table services we have ever experienced. He shared with us his passion and knowledge about food and wine and elevated our dinning experience. If you consider yourself a foodie, I highly recommend a trip to The Ranch. You just might leave your heart there.

http://www.theranch.com/ – Entree prices run from mid $20- high $30

THE RANCH Restaurant & Saloon on Urbanspoon

About Tom Holmberg

Tom grew up in a cultural diverse neighborhood and a culturally diverse family, so he has learned to appreciate all types of food. "I am not a Chef, nor do I play one on T.V., but I have learned to appreciate food from years of eating and cooking." Tom also spent 10 years in the restaurant industry in various roles, from Prep Cook to server.


  1. Everything about that restaurant sounds delicious. Definitely going to have to consider another trip to CA! And I love when the bread basket contains different kinds of bread!

  2. WOW! Your post about “The Ranch” has made me extremely hungry and with the desire to travel to Orange County LA. When in LA I will be sure to visit this place thanks to your recommendation : )

  3. Hummmmmmmmm….sounds nummeee. Wish that’s I had on my table for dinner!

  4. Alexandra McAllister

    WOW! What a great review! Love the pics! For sure, now I’m hungry and wishing I was in LA! :) Thank you!

  5. Well written as always my love! This was definitely a fabulous restaurant and your descriptions make me have a craving to head back for more..as long as you don’t attack my plate and eat my servings along with yours my lil foodie♥

  6. Elizabeth Maness

    Okay.. I will never come to read your blog when I’m hungry! Nice job.. the pictures are perfect and the description has my mouth wishing for a taste! I was in Orange county just over a month ago and I really wish I had known about The Ranch! Next time!

  7. The ravioli looks incredible! I’ll have to try this the next time I’m in Orange County. Is it fairly vegetarian- and pescetarian-friendly?

    • Hi Shari,
      Yes they do have a nice selection of vegetarian and pescatarian friendly dishes. Their kitchen is very experienced with these types of dishes. As always be sure to tell your server about your dietary needs and they can pull of some amazing things.

  8. That salmon looked AND sounded scrumptious! Thanks for a wonderful review. Now, I’m looking for lunch . . .

  9. Wow Tom, that looks and sounds amazing!!! Going to have to check it out!!!

  10. Great review, I feel as if I were there with you. I am sharing with a few other OCers.

  11. Uuuhhh, makes me miss my german food 😉 I for sure have to stop by there next time I’m in the area!!!

  12. Wow! Did you make me hungry? Your review of The Ranch was wonderful and the pictures of the various food makes my mouth water. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Oh my, does this food look FABulous!! It makes my mouth water just seeing all of that!

  14. I could hardly get past the images of your food!! They had me salivating big time! Kudos to you!

  15. What a great blog post. I have a micro-farm in Harpers Ferry, WV and we strive to offer produce that would be appreciated in restaurants like Ranch. Next time I travel West I’ll be sure to check it out!

  16. Wow – what a delicious post… I was not hungry before I read this but now I am ;). Thanks for some amazing visuals as well as a great description of your meal!

  17. Barbara Griffin Billig

    Your heading sums it all up. Life is too short for bad food and cheap wine. I want to know about restaurants that are upscale and trustworthy. (A small new local restaurant served me Escolar fish – told me it was halibut related-and that was certainly a sickening lesson). I’ll be reading your blog!

  18. Explode Your Business Online @Norma Doiron

    Wowsers! How appealing these foods are… The presentation is awesome! Now, off I go to have my poor little sandwich for lunch… Tee-heee… Great share!

  19. Impressive job on the foodie blog post! Now I’m starving … The establishment will love this articulation!

  20. Wish LA weren’t so far … but will keep it in my foodie file for the next trip! So tell me … did Jamie do the photography?

  21. Lisa Frederiksen - BreakingTheCycles.com

    Oh my gosh – I’m sold! The Ranch sounds like a marvelous dining experience.

  22. Meryl Hershey Beck

    Tom, your review of the food was comprehensive and described in such a manner that I was almost able to taste your meal!

  23. I’m so glad I ate dinner before I read your blog! These dishes all look wonderful, but the winner has to be the PBJ Milk Chocolate dessert! Great post!

  24. Awesome place to celebrate, the ambiance was nice, service was great and the food was delicious..

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