Last night at South by Southwest (SXSW) my boss took us to a place that is rumored to be an amazing steakhouse. As a steak lover, I was pretty excited about dinner. All day long the team was talking about our favorite cut of meat, how we like it cooked, where we’ve had great steaks previously – it was a great bonding experience. Everyone was eagerly anticipating dinner.
The Ranch 616
So, we head to The Ranch 616 looking for a spectacular meal. Unfortunately, that’s not at all what we got.
For our appetizers we got the Buttermilk Battered Fried Jalapeños ($6) and were supremely disappointed. They were unique in that they were pre-sliced which means each bite was wrapped in the buttermilk batter. Super spicy, the jalapeños had a nice kick, almost too much for native Texas palates. Not bad, but not great. Needed more ranch dressing to go along with it.
For drinks most people on the team stuck with the usual, beer, wine, soda, or water. However, a couple got adventurous and tried the Pink Taco or a margarita.
For $12, the Pink Taco gets you Ketel One vodka and fresh-squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice shaken on the rocks and served up ice cold with a cherry. The lady who drank it LOVED it and ended up enjoying too many. She was the life of the party.
I ended up opting for a basic frozen margarita. At only $6 it wasn’t anything special. Tasty? You bet! Different or unusual from any other margarita? Nope, not in the slightest. I definitely enjoyed it but it won’t be on my list of most memorable beverages.
For our entrees we were severely disappointed. There are only two true steak options, a Ribeye ($34.95) and a tenderloin with crab ($46.96). After much hewing and hawing, nobody ended up ordering either of those. Perhaps it was mistake, but we ordered the Chicken Fried “Petite Beef Shoulder” Tenderloin for $22.95. The meal was unexceptional every way you slice it. The meat was chewy with way too much breaking. The shrimp accompaniment was plain and boring. No true culinary adventure at all. Green beans looked like they came straight from the freezer and tasted the same. The cheesy mashed potatoes were a nice surprise on an otherwise uninspired plate. Overall, meh!
After our lackluster dinners we opted to skip the dessert menu. One last round of drinks and we were heading back to our hotel.
The location was outside of downtown Austin in what looked like a converted house. Inside it was cramped and kitschy. They seated us at one of the typical tables when my boss noticed that the tabletop had the same boomerang pattern as the linoleum from her home growing up in the 60’s/70’s. Definitely not the oak paneled walls of your typical steakhouse, which was a very cool change of pace. If anything, I’d stop in to check out the decor. The photos on the walls and the christmas lights were very cool.
So, I cannot recommend The Ranch 616 if you’re visiting Austin. It was supremely disappointing. Perhaps we built it up too much, maybe we should have just kept it simple and gone with the ribeye or tenderloin. However, I don’t think that would have made much of a difference. All of our meals were bland.