Went for a two-birthday celebration with a party of eight on Saturday evening. We arrived early, at 5:00 p.m., and per our reservation they had a large table ready. The atmosphere is definitely cowboy/kitsch and the restaurant seems a bit uncertain whether it wants to tend toward fine dining or casual. I think it straddles the line pretty well. I liked that silverware was brought with each course (our waitress even replaced my unused dinner fork with a fresh one before the entrees were served). The service overall was very good. I'm a stickler for dirty dishes being taken away before the next course is served (P.F. Chang's, I'm looking at you) and the table was kept cleared with reasonable swiftness and beverages were kept filled.
We had the fried cactus, grilled poblano and chips with queso and salsa for appetizers. I had read that the cactus didn't have much flavor of its own, but I thought it did. The batter was good and crispy. Fried cactus was a hit. The poblanos (we got two and shared them) were stuffed with cheese and came with tasty grilled shrimp and a corn/black bean/avocado relish. They were excellent. The freshly fried tortilla chipswere hearty and good, as was the salsa, but several of us did not care for the queso. It's made with Shiner Bock and tasted too beery to me.
The Caesar salad that came with my entree was fine. A little overdressed for me, but I'm not one for much salad dressing.
Entrees were satisfying all around. I had a ribeye that I ordered medium-rare but came out more on the rare side (which is fine with me, I'd rather have it underdone that overcooked). The flavor of the meat was good. The steak did have slightly more gristle-ish bits than I expected. The ranch fries (thick rounds of potato lightly fried) were an ok side. Others got the ribs (reported to be excellent), the lamb, a sirloin strip, and the pasta with cream sauce and grilled chicken. There is a nice variety of sides (our vegan was satisfied with the three-side platter, not an easy feat). I didn't taste the other food but everyone said their food was good.
For dessert we got raspberry-white chocolate cheesecake, vanilla cheesecake, and double chocolate cake. The vanilla cheesecake had a nice flavor but kind of old, almost rubbery texture. I didn't try the other cheesecake. The chocolate cake was very good, moist and yummy.
The singer for the evening was a pleasant lounge-type chanteuse. The timing of the courses was quite leisurely, which was nice though it wouldn't have hurt to pick up the pace a little. The lady working the front door and our server were very friendly, and again, our server did a great job. I would be happy to go back to Mesa Ranch.
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