Review: Twisted Ranch in St. Louis
Twisted Ranch garnered national media attention for its unusual, ranch-themed concept when it opened this summer: a bar and grill with a twist – of ranch.
Welcome to the ranch
Metal-topped tables and bar shelves made from pipes create a subtle industrial theme in the 50-seat restaurant. Better ventilation would improve the atmosphere considerably, since smoke from the kitchen often lingers. But service is friendly: Multiple staffers greeted us upon entry, and the servers worked as a team to keep things moving smoothly. We were in and out in about an hour.
The ranches d’être
Of 17 house-made ranches, the most popular are cheesy bacon, Sriracha, roasted garlic and avocado. Always Sunny in Fetadelphia has sun-dried tomato and feta, and the Kemowasabi is wasabi and honey-based. We tried about half, and the double D (Dijon and Durkee sauce) and the garlic ranch were favorites. Part of the fun is trying multiple flavors, although it can be hard to distinguish among them after a while.
Dips on dips
Starters are plentiful and heavy. The Buffalo chicken dip could do with another dash of house-made Buffalo sauce – it needed the additional heat and vinegar tang – but was creamy and didn’t skimp on the chicken. The baked dip came with corn chips, a sturdy alternative to the expected tortilla.
Loaded fresh-cut fries were topped with what appeared to be cheese sauce (though the menu billed it melted cheddar), buttermilk-basil ranch, bacon and green onions. This tasty profligate dish came with a choice of two ranch sauces on the side, which was overkill since there was nary a naked fry to dip. Likewise, the loaded nachos with pepper jack cheese sauce and avocado ranch, were almost too messy to eat. It might do better as a dip with chips on the side.
The fried pickle chips had a perfectly crunchy ranch-seasoned panko coating, but they shouldn’t be tried without a dip or two (go for the Greek ranch), since unadorned they lacked the expected briny burst of pickle flavor. While there are tasty options, something lighter would be a welcome addition to the appetizer menu.
Mains with range
Don’t be afraid of the mains; everything on the menu is not totally dominated by ranch sauce. The Ranched St. Louis Gerber worked particularly well: a hot open-faced ham and Provel sandwich with garlic ranch on the bread instead of the usual garlic butter. The chicken ranch gyro overflowed with fresh tomato and cucumber and included just a hint of the advertised Greek ranch.
The stout half-pound garlic ranch burger arrived juicy with a nice, medium-pink center and topped with cheese, lettuce, onions and tomato. I chose a neutral American from the many cheese options to avoid distracting from the garlic ranch. Ranch smoked pulled pork was piled on a bun with barbecue ranch slaw. The saucy sandwich tasted more like barbecue than ranch and the slaw was a smart addition, cutting through the rich sweetness of the pork with a fresh crunch.
Ranch on the sides
Sandwiches come with one side, and the hand-cut fries were a standout: Coated with a house blend of ranch seasoning, they were the ideal combination of a crispy outside and a fluffy interior. For a healthier option, the side salad was pretty basic but fresh. The loaded potato salad was better than most – not too sweet or mustardy.
Adding lighter options would improve Twisted Ranch’s standing as a lunch spot. The appetizers especially are best suited for bar hoppers looking for serious, hangover-preventing food. Ordered at lunch, they pose the risk of an accidental afternoon office nap. While Twisted Ranch doesn’t stand out much from other St. Louis bar and grills, it’s a fine place to stop in if you live or work in the area.
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