Some years ago a desperate
American immigrant called her Aliya counselor in Israel claiming that
she absolutely must have a steak. Try as she may, she just can't live
in Israel without one. The naive counselor thought she meant a financial
stake and started scratching his head as to where he might find the
distraught woman some money. It turned out that she didn't mean this
at all. Accustomed to American cuts of meat, all she wanted was a piece
of serious beef. Had Ranch House been around back then, her Aliya would
have been a lot easier.
Ranch House is a real American
steak house, complete with imported American meat, American style cuts,
and kosher. The meat is imported from North Dakota and Nebraska, a quarter
of a cow at a time, and then kashered, processed and cooked at the hotel
in Eilat. The cuts are American style and the meat is amazing.
Ranch House is modeled after
an American West-coast steak house. You may not be familiar with this
animal because most of these US restaurants are non-kosher. So if you
have been wondering what a true American steak house would be like,
here is your opportunity. Europeans who enjoyed beef before Mad Cow
Disease spoiled this pleasure can rest assured that this meat, imported
from the US, is disease free.
Ranch House is located in
the shopping promenade of the Royal Beach Hotel. Cut around to the right
from the main entrance to the hotel and you will be on the hotel promenade.
This is a very lively area with beautiful stores and restaurants. Window-shopping
along this very lovely promenade is an added pleasure.
Ranch House is a very upscale
restaurant, as you'll see from the quality of the food, the service
and the decor, which is all very classy. The Seating is very comfortable,
with large tables, carpeted floors, and acoustically optimized atmosphere.
The chairs, which look like wicker, are actually woven leather. The
restaurant is decorated in light wood with a western theme. A large
painting of charging bulls remind you where your food comes from and
a design on the ceiling suggesting a wagon wheel, reminds you what they
are getting at.
The one-page menu, in both
Hebrew and English, offers a limited selection, but every item is tried
and true. Though not cheap, you do get your money's worth both in the
quality and the cowboy-size portions. While mulling over the menu, have
a drink from the well-stocked roving bar and munch on the house bread.
The bread, baked with herbs and vegetables, is served in an individual
terra cotta baking dish, with two sauces, salsa and a green pepper sauce.
Service is a big item here,
and many a restaurant could learn from Ranch House. First there is the
"Service Guarantee for a Perfect Holiday" printed on the inside of the
menu. If you don't like something you have been served, just return
it. You will be given a substitute at no charge. Waiters are trained
for two weeks before they are let loose on the customers. They can all
carve like a butcher, mix drinks like a bar tender and pour wine like
The appetizer section of
the menu, called "Coast to Coast," lists dishes named for American cities.
"Oklahoma" is the typical tomato salad, with greens and lots of tomatoes.
I ordered "Mississippi" which was a dish of marinated salmon slices
arranged as spokes in a large bowl with a patch of lettuce in the center.
The dish was very beautifully presented but a bit peppery for my taste
and far more than any one person could eat. My "pardner" was relishing
"Texas" the house choice, which is chicken wings coated in a spicy honey
and BBQ sauce topped with sesame seeds. This dish is crispy, and delightfully
messy. "Texas" can be had as an appetizer or a main course, the difference
being the size of the portion. This dish is literally finger-licking
good. You even get a plate of wipes to clean up with when you are finished.
The appetizers are rather
pricey but they are quite generous. If you and your dining companion
can agree on a single appetizer, I would recommend ordering only one
between you. If you are a party of three or more, surely order one appetizer
less than your number.
There is only one soup -
a thick beef soup with cubes of meat and potatoes. This is actually
more of a Hungarian style paprika goulash than a soup, and it makes
an excellent appetizer. Most of the main courses are grilled meats ordered
by weight. You can have a 250gr, 400gr or in some cases a 700gr (for
2) meat course. Prices range from NIS 82 - to NIS 130. Unique at this
restaurant is the roast beef, which is a 2-kilo piece of prime rib topped
with garlic and seasonings, cooked in the dining area in a roving slow
cooker. The cooker is wheeled to your table and your portion is carved
from the piece according to your taste. A rare portion is carved from
the inside of the meat while well done potions are sliced from the edge
of the meat. If you like your meat very rare, it is best to get to the
restaurant early. We had a taste of this meat toward the end of its
cooking cycle and it was soft as butter.
Main course are served with
a mound of fried onions and a portion of spinach. My companion thoroughly
enjoyed a grilled rib eye steak served with a mustard and a pepper sauce.
This was a brick of pure meat with no visible fat. The course was balanced
by a bottle of Gamla 1988 Cabernet Sauvignon (half bottle NIS 62). This
dry red wine brings out the flavors of the meat and is the perfect companion
to a beef dinner.
Ranch House is Nirvana for
meat eaters, but non-meat-eaters need not despair. While my companion
delighted in the various meat dishes, I enjoyed a very nice sea bass,
which had been steamed in salt. The fish was moist and well cooked and
was quite meaty. It was delicious topped with whole cloves of garlic
and served with the spinach and onion side dish (NIS 74). Though not
on the menu, there is also a vegetarian noodle dish.
If you have any room for
dessert after this carnivorous orgy, I must recommend the chocolate
brownies (NIS 24). This dish is not described properly on the menu,
but your waiter will surely recommend it. What you get is an individual
baking dish of chocolate fudge cake. It is cakey on the outside and
creamy fudge on the inside. This rich chocolate is balanced by a scoop
of vanilla ice cream. This is a delicious dessert.
If we had any criticism of
this restaurant it is that not all the options are on the menu. Not
listed are the three-course children's meals available for NIS 40. The
veggie alternatives are not listed, nor are the drinks.
Dinner for two with a glass
of wine can run up to NIS 300. Guests staying at the Royal Beach or
the King Solomon Hotels on a half board, can add a small fee and upgrade
their meal to dinner at this restaurant.
The word is out about this
restaurant and it is busy even at slow times in Eilat. Be sure to make
reservations at the hotel desk. 08-636