Review of Saddle Ranch Chop House Costa Mesa
Save a steak, ride a Cowboy (or Cowgirl)
Would I consider Saddle Ranch Chop House a destination restaurant for it’s cuisine? Probably not. Instead, I view Saddle Ranch as an overall entertainment destination, with the good food being just one of the elements to a good time. I recommend a visit to Saddle Ranch if you are looking for a place where you can you can enjoy good food, cocktails in a rock and roll environment. During the daytime and early evening, Saddle Ranch is family friendly. Although the later it gets into the evening, Saddle Ranch turns into a meat market.
The original Saddle Ranch Chop house gained popularity in Hollywood due to the rock and roll attitude, bull riding, and Hollywood elite clientele. The concept expanded to Universal City Walk and then to Costa Mesa’s newly redeveloped “The Triangle.” The concept is even expanding into The Block in Orange.
Food at the Saddle Ranch Chop House Costa Mesa
The food at Saddle Ranch is emphasized around grilled meats. All of the meals we ordered were served on Texas sized plates and served with buttery vegetables and choice of side. In addition, the entrees are served with a basket of jalapeno corn bread and mini country biscuits. I will say that the corn bread and biscuits were perhaps one of the better elements of the experience. The corn bread is speckled with sweet corn and small chunks of jalapenos.
The country biscuits were also great, but they tasted best hot and smothered with the creamy honey butter. Don’t come here on a diet. Our waiter was really good at ensuring that we always had a fresh basket of bread at our table.
The New York Strip Steak
When I asked the waiter for his recommendation, he told me that Saddle Ranch is known for their meats, especially the steaks. I ordered the New York Strip Steak based on his recommendation. The steak was tender, juicy, cooked to order, and topped with compound butter.
The steak was very good, although it does not rank on my top 10 favorite steak experiences. Most folks will enjoy the steaks at Saddle Ranch, although do not come expecting the best steak over.
Extra Thick Pork Chop
My friend ordered the Thick Cut Pork Chop. When the dish arrived, it looked impressive and had a nice presentation. The pork chop is topped with stewed apple slices and a sweet bourbon sauce. My friend thought the pork chop was very good and she enjoyed it; although, it is definitely not one of her favorite preparations.
Notice a theme running here? I asked her what was wrong with it ? She said it tasted good, but lacked the flavor pizzazz that she tasted at other restaurants.
Baby Back ribs
Would you be surprised if I told you that the ribs were quite tasty, but not even close for the best ribs you have ever tasted? My Wife, Daniele, ordered the ribs and thoroughly enjoyed them. Although, she say afterwards, “I have had much better ribs in the past.” With this said, she proceeded to eat everything on her plate. The ribs were moderately meaty and had a nice hickory smoke in each bite.
The Sides that we tried
All of the dishes are served with buttery vegetables and an optional side. I highly recommend the sweet potato casserole with toasted marshmallows and candied pecans. This side dish caused the biggest excitement at our table. The casserole is filled with sweet potato puree, marshmallows, and candied pecans. The casserole is then roasted until the marshmallows are expanded and toasted. This dish is an excuse to eat sugar and butter together, through the medium of sweet potato. It is absolutely delicious.
The beer selection was fairly basic with the usual suspects of Budweiser products, Blue moon, Newcastle ect. The only exception was a Lagunitas, which offered an IPA. The wine menu is also very basic with several selections of reds, whites and sparklers.
Saddle Ranch really excelled with their cocktail program, which features carafe sized drinks. Saddle Ranch knows their target customers and they know that these types of drinks sell very well. You just have to look around and you can see a lot of early 20’s women sucking these carafes down. My friend Peggy ordered the Sweat Tea Carafe cocktail and said it was delicious. I know it was strong because her face was turning red about half way through the carafe.
The dessert menu looks delicious with such items as half-baked chocolate chip cookies, butter cake, and a roast your own smores. My favorite, from a shock and awe perspective, is the three foot tall cotton candy ($8). When you order the cotton candy, playing with your food is actually half the fun. Be sure to make cotton candy mustaches, wigs and braziers. Trust me the staff is used to this shenanigans and even encourages it. Just don’t get the cotton candy stuck in their seats.
Service at Saddle Ranch Chop House is chain restaurant average. One issue we experienced is the lack of product knowledge. For example, I asked for information about the beer and he could’t answer my question about the IPA. He covered up his lack of knowledge by showing off his personality. Even though I didn’t get my question answered, I was still entertained.
Another issue is that our meals took a long time to come out. Our server did his best to keep us entertained, although I was seriously getting hangry. In fact, I was getting fangry. The server noticed my face and quickly brought out extra bread.
The main issue I experienced is that the food runners are speeding through the restaurant at a full charge, often with hot plates of food. I watched twice as they bumped into each other and even the customers. Slow down folks, the tickets to Bruno Mars will not sell out.
My Final Thoughts
I would not expect my readers to tell me, “This is a great place for steaks and ribs”; rather, I would expect my readers to say, “We had a lot of fun at Saddle Ranch and had some good food.” Saddle Ranch Chop House fits the bill for a lively night out, while enjoying some good food and drinks. Don’t forget to try their mixed drinks and ride the mechanical bull, just not in that order