Written by: Greg Elwell
Stylish Eats reviews are brought to you by Steven Giles Clothing, the menswear store for those with discerning taste. Style extends well beyond the confines of clothing, so Steven Giles is teaming up with I Ate Oklahoma to bring you reviews of eateries with a refined palate across the state.
There are certain insights to which one becomes privy when one dines out as often as I do, like which days sushi restaurants get their fresh fish shipments in and why stealing a server’s pen is often much worse than leaving a crappy tip.
But I was as puzzled as anyone when I pulled up to Ranch Steakhouse on a Tuesday night and had to look…HARD…for a place to park.
Which isn’t to say that I was surprised to see a crowd at Ranch, which calls itself “Oklahoma City’s finest restaurant since 1999,” and has a pretty solid claim. But a Tuesday night is not a particularly busy night for most restaurants, especially a fine dining spot. I would certainly anticipate Friday and Saturday nights are packed to the gills, but think about your normal Tuesday: Does it usually include a USDA-certified Prime steak and a team of highly skilled servers who seem capable of anticipating your every need before you know you have it? If so, you’re living a better life than mine.
After we were led through the packed dining room to a quiet table near the back, I asked our server (Ashley, ask for her by name) if there was a special event or something I didn’t know about.
“No. I think we have a few birthday parties in the private rooms, but this is about right for a Tuesday,” she said. “But we usually have a lot of pharmaceutical reps in here.”
Pharmaceutical reps. I’m not saying that the presence of reps is the mark of a great restaurant, but when you’re taking doctors out for a meal that will wow them and Pfizer & Johnson is picking up the tab, you tend to go for the good stuff. Ranch is definitely the good stuff.
And Ashley was definitely the good server. Take note of folks like these, because they are the key to fine dining. Yes, the food has to be wonderful, but even the best food stays locked in the kitchen without a server who connects you to it.
For instance, we were looking over the list of appetizers and, frankly, struggling to choose one. That’s when Ashley told us about an off-menu app that’s almost always available: rock shrimp ($19).
She spilled the tea and we slurped it up. In a few minutes, she brought by a plate of glistening, lightly battered and fried shrimp in a sweet and spicy sauce. And, while it’s not a challenge to capsaicin addicts, I will admit that it had a really nice low-level heat that built up to a pleasant tingle.
I mean, I love shrimp and it’s a pretty great time to be an enjoyer of shrimp in Oklahoma City, because we have a lot of chefs who know just how to cook them. These were tender and juicy, but with a nice snap. I’ve had enough overcooked shrimp to last a lifetime. The chefs at Ranch are making sure I don’t have any more.
It doesn’t seem fair how simple, and yet how tasty, the heirloom tomato and burrata salad ($14) is. Similar to a caprese, the famous Italian salad of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil, this salad comes with thick slices of ripe tomato, still juicy and sweet from the summer sun, and an orb of burrata—a cheese made from the combination of cream and mozzarella for a creamier, richer bite. The outside is mozz, while the inside is buttery and creamy.
(For reference, the photos are of a split plate, since we were sharing the salad. Hey, there was a lot more food coming and we were trying to save room.)
Burrata is a really decadent cheese, but it gains even more life with a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar and the sweetness of tomatoes alongside it. There aren’t many salads that get me to close my eyes in enjoyment, but this is one of them.
Fancy steakhouse, have to get a fancy steak, right? Well, yes and no. I should probably just write an entire post about this at some point, but I am obsessed with sirloin: the forgotten steak.
There are a couple of benefits to choosing sirloin. One, it’s generally a less-expensive cut…probably because so many people never consider it. Everyone goes for cuts with cachet—your filets and ribeyes—while discounting the powerhouse that is a sirloin. Secondly, a great chef can do great things with any steak. I’ve had terrible filets and amazing flank steaks, all due to the skill of the chef. So, to judge a steakhouse’s acumen, I tend toward sirloins.
Ranch Steakhouse didn’t let me down. I ordered a 12 oz. Prime-graded sirloin ($38, plus $3 for garlic whiskey au poivre sauce) cooked medium-rare and what arrived at the table was like a child’s football made of beef. The outside had a lovely, rich sheen and a crisp crust hiding a center of medium-rare steak from top to bottom.
(Tip: For large steaks, I always order slightly less done, because if you take home leftovers, you can reheat it without cooking it to death.)
Sirloin isn’t as beefy as a ribeye or as tender as a filet, but it’s an incredibly balanced cut of meat and Ranch prepared it to a T.
Much like shrimp, Oklahoma is in a scallop (and oyster and mussel) renaissance. Refrigeration techniques are better than they’ve ever been and shipping is more reliable than ever before, which means when you order pan-seared scallops ($40), you’re getting thick, meaty bivalves with no grit and a smooth, supple texture that you can slice through simply by letting the knife rest on top of the butter-seared top of each one.
Granted, you’re also getting a lot more than scallops. This dish begins with a bit of a southwest flair—orzo cooked with garlic, corn, and asparagus, with cherry tomatoes and chili butter, and finished with a splash of habanero vinaigrette.
Oh, and lump crab meat. Silly me. I always forget about delicious, lightly sweet crab. Lord have mercy. If you’re not getting steak at the Ranch, you definitely need the scallops.
Fun fact: high-end steakhouses generally sell their side dishes…on the side. Which means you have to pick and choose, which isn’t always easy. Ranch does make it a touch easier with the side sampler ($20). It’s the cost of two sides, but you get smaller portions of three sides. I was kind of let down by the onion rings, but the macaroni and cheese was a blend of creamy and stringy (my fave) and the bleu cheese and bacon Brussels sprouts were tender and packed with big flavors.
Ranch Steakhouse is not my every night or every week or even every month stop. But that’s absolutely a function of my bank account’s paucity. If I could afford to throw down this kind of money more often, I’d be there in a flash. This is a proper steakhouse and they know, oh boy do they know, how to cook the beef. If you’re of a mind to get dressed up and show yourself to a night on the town, it’s hard to beat Ranch Steakhouse.
Stylish Eats are sponsored by Steven Giles Clothing, a high-end men’s fashion store in Classen Curve providing expertly tailored suits, timeless casual wear and everything in between. Visit them online at stevengilesclothing.com to schedule a fitting or stop in at 5850 N. Classen Blvd. to browse their selection in person.