The RanchHouse BBQ and Steakhouse has been a landmark on Highway 8, greeting drivers between Thurston and Grays Harbor Counties.
The bright, red building that looks like a farmhouse (with a giant iron pig at the entrance) has received national acclaim.The Ranch House has been featured on the Food Network special BBQ Country Cook-off, Grill Girls and TLC’s Buzzworthy BBQ. Menu items have also won competitions in several countries. There is a shadow box filled with ribbons and trophies from many competitions. According to the restaurant’s website, owner and Olympia native Amy Anderson have earned championship titles for BBQ from five states, Canada and a championship in Ireland in 2000.
A former reporter for The Daily World of Aberdeen told me that the restaurant is a favorite of former Washington state governor Christine Gregoire. It also overcame tragedy. In 2007, a heavy rainfalls caused the creek that runs adjacent to the parking lot (Kennedy Creek) to wash out half the restaurant. Locals and residents from all over Puget Sound stop here to enjoy some award-winning favorites on the menu. So I had high expectations when I stopped in to eat there. The menu has big portions, so one rack of ribs and a couple of sides is enough to feed two people, and that’s exactly what my fiance and I did.
The menu says a whole rack of ribs is supposed to have ten individual ribs. We must’ve gotten lucky or happened to get a mutant pig. Our rack of ribs had 11! The ribs are St.Lois style ribs, which means they are spare ribs which are grilled and heavily-sauced (as opposed to dry-rubbed). The ribs were smoked over cherry wood, giving the ribs a distinct savory, and slightly sweet flavor. (The type of wood used in BBQ smoking can affect the flavor of the meat. Check out the science behind it here.) The ribs were moist, tender and fell of the bone with every bite. I could’ve used a little more sauce. Thankfully, the restaurant has bottles of its signature sauce at every table. It tasted spicier than the sauce that was on the ribs. I’m not sure if this was because:
1) it was a different sauce OR
2) it was the same sauce used in the cooking process but the flavor profile was changed because it was at room temperature and it had not gone through the cooking process with the ribs
In either case, it complimented the ribs well.
I also enjoyed the chili. I usually pass on the chili because I don’t care for most beans. But the chili had a robust flavor and was not overly-spicy. The ground beef and beans were slow-cooked so their flavors combined flawlessly. The best part was the ooey, gooey melted cheddar cheese on top. (My fiance said he wanted crackers to add a crunchy texture to the chili, but I was satisfied because of all the cheese!)
The house caesar salad had large, crispy, green, fresh leaves of romaine and a thorough amount of parmesan cheese. It came served in a small cup–about the same size of the chili cup. It was difficult to eat without spilling over, so I finally just dumped it out on a plate and had no further problems. (FYI: there is also a garden salad and for an additional charge, diners can top any salad with smoked chicken, pulled pork, or beef brisket.)
The menu also has a plethora of sides that include hot wings, chili cheese fries and deep fried macaroni balls. Desserts include mudslide pie (an oreo cookie crust layered with chocolate sauce, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, topped with whipped cream and chopped nuts) and fruit crisp (your choice of apple, strawberry rhubarb, blackberry or peach) that has a cinnamon oatmeal crumb crust served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. But I DID NOT try any of the sides or the dessert because I was too FULL from the entree. I’ll just have to make a vow to try of them on a return visit.
In the meantime, if any of my readers has eaten one or more of the RanchHouse BBQ and Steak House’s sides or desserts, feel free to post a review and/or photos in the comments section.
Prices range for entree: $12-28
10841 Kennedy Creek Rd. SW
Olympia, WA 98502