Arts & Life, Features

Flavor Focus: Saddle Ranch

Pretending to be a celebrity by waving openly from the outdoor patio area at passing tour buses, is an understandable side effect of dining at the Saddle Ranch on Sunset Boulevard.

Upon arrival, free valet parking followed by entering an entirely Western themed bar and restaurant, adorned in everything wooden, guests instantaneously feel their stresses melt away. It’s probably not until being seated that most guests clock the enormous mechanical bull and wonder how they’d missed it.

Greeted by a menu featuring perhaps the most homemade recipes ever seen, truffle fries and sweet potato with marshmallows and candied pecan soup being two side dishes, the decision is a tough one. It’s simply just difficult not to order a bit of everything. In fact, if you visit in a large group I’d suggest that you all order something different and turn your table into a mini buffet. If you’re like my mom and devote yourself entirely to the meal you’ve chosen and would naturally chop off any wandering fingers that try to steal a chip from your plate – then don’t get yourself all flustered! The portion sizes are enough for three! I didn’t see anybody (even the largest American) finish their entire plate of food.

Most passed on appetizers on our table, being students we figured that we’d save our money for dessert instead (which is incredible, but I’ll get to that!). To our delight, our waitress approached our tablet with free appetizers! Biscuits with honey butter and tortilla chips with guacamole were the agreed favorites. The biscuits were still warm, allowing the butter to melt making them really absorb the sweet flavor. The chips came in red white and green. Not being a fan of guacamole, I passed, but it disappeared within no time at all so I think it’s safe to say it was tasty!

Chips still in hand, we watched our main courses glide across the room, and I’m pretty sure no one blinked.

I had ordered a Sloppy Joe’s, which was minced meat in a Jack Daniel’s sauce, accompanied by salad and sweet potato fries. Oh my goodness. Heaven on a plate. If you like T.G.I Fridays’ JD sauce you will want to marry this dish. It’s gorgeous and will never let you down. The sweet potato fries were also the perfect balance of soft and crisp, as were the truffle fries I stole from a friend. It’s the kind of food where you would definitely experience a “Hey, what’s that?” moment.

I hadn’t just picked a lucky meal, everybody fell silent for a good 10 minutes in order to demolish as much of their meals as they physically could. After this time, people began getting more generous and sharing in exchange for a taste of other people’s meals that caught their eye.

The sweet potato with marshmallows and candied pecan soup can only be described as tasting like Christmas. Warm, sweet but filling, and happy. There’s no other way to describe it. It is Christmas.

Defeated by our main courses, we regrettably turned down dessert with the intention of returning at a later date purely for dessert. We had wanted to order the meter tall candy floss. A table of around 10 police officers had devoured a huge, very masculine-looking, pink candy floss at a table near to ours. This is my new aim in life.

Instead of our bill being delivered to our table, we received a shiny metal tray loaded with crackers, Hershey’s chocolate, marshmallows, two pots – one with caramel sauce, one with chocolate sauce and long wooden sticks. Instantly we realized that this could only mean one thing. S’mores. And even better – free s’mores.

We were led outside to a small fire, enveloped in a semi-circle of crazy paving slabs for us to sit on. Time trickled by as we were left to our own devises to reminisce and toast marshmallows – or burn in some cases (Ok, only in my case…) without feeling any pressure to pay and leave for other customers to be seated.

When our bill was eventually left out of our way on an adjacent table, we triple checked it as were genuinely stunned at how little they charged us. Approximately only 15 dollars each! We were more than happy to add a huge tip to the total. Even with the large tip it still didn’t reach the total amount we would normally be charged in a mediocre restaurant. Probably the best ambience for a meal out I’ve ever had and at such little cost.

I am yet to encounter the Saddle Ranch on Sunset Boulevard by night, but if it’s anything like the hearsay, it’s definitely a day to night transformation to be experienced by those over 21. Yeehaaar!

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