Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ranch 616

Ranch 616 is kinda a guy's place. There are dead stuffed things on the wall (bison, something else with antlers), and the silverware is completely over-sized and heavy. Comfy leather booths, and various western-themed paraphernalia decorate the walls. But then there are the funky chandeliers, modern-retro light fixtures, and a plethora of glittery ball ornaments hanging from the ceiling. The women's room has a deer head mounted in one of the stalls, with rolls of toilet paper on it's multi-pointed rack. A longhorn steer head is mounted in there too, with tp on both of its horns. Very tongue in cheek. (Speaking of which, I sat directly under the bison head in the corner booth, and couldn't help but feel like I was going to get slobbered on all throughout my meal.)

When we arrived around 6:15 pm, I think there was one other table seated, and a few patrons at the bar. Our server was friendly and helpful throughout the night, but unfortunately, the food was not always up to par. I started with a $9 sangria, and while it did have a smidge of brandy and Paula's Texas Orange liquor in it, it wasn't exactly large or potent enough for what I consider a good $9 cocktail. All of the drinks seem to be on the pricey side.

For apps, we ordered the fried oysters (apparently one of their signature dishes) and calamari. Both come with a chipotle tartar sauce (I'd call it aioli) and a green goddess dressing. The calamari was thicker sliced tubes, but no tentacles that I could tell, but fried well. The oysters though, were a bit on the soggy side, like perhaps they'd been sitting around a bit. And they needed salt.

There were a number of dishes on the nightly specials list. The most intriguing was Lamb Three Ways, which I opted to split with a friend. Two of each Australian lamb chops, in three different styles, a rosemary grilled, a tamarind glazed, and a chicken fried, on "fresh mint mashed and roasted fingerling potatoes, with demi-glace, and sauteed green beans." We asked for the chops to be medium-rare. What came was a huge disappointment. Only the 2 chicken fried were tender and approaching medium rare. The other 4 were well done, and a bit tough. Furthermore, there was not a hint of tamarind to be tasted, nor mint in the potatoes. The rosemary one was fine, but again, over cooked. The demi-glace was rather tasty, but when 2 people split a plate (which we had told the waiter up front), it would have been nice to bring the plates out already split, because someone (in this case, me) is going to miss out on the demi, as it's not really something you can spoon onto your share. I did dip one chop into it as my companion raved about it, but certainly didn't get to experience enough of it. Not sure I understand the description of the potatoes; there were no roasted fingerlings on our plate, so were the potatoes first roasted THEN mashed? But that's not how the menu description read. At least the green beans weren't overcooked....

Two diners had the Tenderloin 616, which they both proclaimed to be fabulous, and another had the Jalapeno Maize Trout, in which the skin was left on, then the fish was breaded & cooked. The skin made it a bit unappealing, and slightly hard to remove from under all the tortilla chips it was crusted with.

We discussed it, and ultimately did tell the waiter about the lamb issues when he came by to pick up our plates. In retrospect, I wish we had told him sooner, and had the plate redone, but we were a group of 6 and had such a fun-filled evening, that it would have been a buzzkill all around. We had previously arranged for two of their dessert specials (Callebaut chocolate & banana fried pies with Amy's Mexican vanilla ice cream) to be brought with candles for a birthday surprise for one member of our party. They were tasty! The waiter told us at the end that he had spoken to the chef about the lamb, and they comped the desserts as an apology, which was gracious and appreciated.

It was a fun evening, with 5 dear friends and a lot of laughter. Our waiter was patient and helpful, but if the food isn't 1) what was advertised 2) prepared how you asked for it, and 3) really remarkable, what is my impetus for returning? The decor was worth it though!

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