The Ranch (Steakhouse) – Hornchurch, London
PERMANENTLY CLOSEDHALAL STATUS Fully Halal
When thinking of Halal steakhouses in London, the last place that comes to mind is probably the quiet little East London town of Hornchurch.
And yet, that’s precisely where the owners of The Ranch decided to launch theirs on Ardleigh Green Road earlier this year in July.
This large and spacious, 70-seater restaurant is brightly lit and boasts not one, but two of those increasingly popular flower walls found at some venues, and meant to serve as photo backdrops for social media posts.
In this case, while The Ranch has also added the neon outline of a bull’s head that represents their logo, the irony is that the very name ‘Hornchurch’ is an Anglicised version of a Latin term for “Monastery of the Horns”, which was applied to the town’s main abbey back in the 13th century; but enough with the history lesson.
When it comes to their menu, then this steakhouse appears to be out to impress, with plenty of items to choose from, such as their “gourmet burgers”, a variety of steaks that include a signature Tomahawk, as well as made-to-order waffles and crepes which can be enjoyed with freshly-made teas and coffees.
It was a close call between the exotic-looking Blue Lagoon and the plain-looking Pina Colada. If we had to choose between them, we’d go with the former, given its more elaborate sweet and sharp flavour profile. The latter, though relatively creamy, was perhaps a smidgen of more pineapple juice away from being better balanced, leaning otherwise on the sweet side.
The Classic Mint Mojito was a rather insipid affair, being a lemonade beverage more than anything else, with the expected mint barely coming through, if at all.
These two shakes – one Oreo and the other strawberry – had a semi-thick consistency to them, with the freshness of the strawberry apparent in the latter, and the chocolatey strength of the Oreo satisfactory in the latter.
Some pretty good Bubble Teas here, with our favourite definitely being the lychee flavoured one. The Ranch offers a good variety too, with a choice of seven Boba Juice Balls for £4.20.
As such, you can either opt for single-flavoured teas; homemade ones for £3.99, which comprise of a combination of two flavours; or create-your-own.
A smartly presented dish this, with the black plate helping to highlight the contrasting colours of an attractively blowtorched disc-shaped Stuffed Shroom surrounded by a pair of glistening piquante peppers stuffed with a lightly flavoured cream cheese, sliced cherry tomatoes, a sprinkle of a few pomegranate seeds, edible flowers and salad leaves.
If you’re a lover of goats’ cheese, then you’ll enjoy the way in which the sweetness of the peppers help cut through the cheese’s familiar pungency (although here, it’s quite mild). We also appreciated how the natural wetness of the sliced portabello mushroom beneath, was released when cut into to add some much-needed moisture to the overall balance of the dish.
All in all, a well conceived and executed plate, whose mature flavours made this our starter of the review.
Despite promising to be Crispy Calamari, these were anything but, being served instead rather flat and chewy. The only redeeming factor here was the inhouse chilli coriander sauce, which was sharp and tangy, and quite delicious.
In comparison to the two preceding signature dishes, this, although better than its calamari counterpart, couldn’t quite match-up to the memorable flavours that defined Dynamite Shrimps had at places like P.F. Chang’s, for instance.
In any case, although the stars of the show had that distinct chewiness of well executed shrimps, the sirachi sauce had a mellow spiciness to it that built up gradually, but not nearly enough to cause our pulses to quicken.
It really doesn’t matter if there’s a gradual build-up of heat to beef chilli con carne that turns out relatively dry.
In this case, the crispy “homemade special cut nachos” and the three sauces just weren’t enough to salvage this Chilli Ranchos.
There’s a good reason why they’ve designated this 1kg Tomahawk as their signature steak.
As you can see, aside from looking the part, this slab of meat served on the bone was requested medium, and that’s precisely how it turned out, with a deliciously crispy perimeter.
Not only was this gorgeously charred, turning out beautifully tender and succulent, but really well seasoned too with plenty of sea salt.
Putting aside the standard nature of the chips, which didn’t strike us as “steak cut” in appearance or texture, this Tomahawk had us hooked from the very first cut, to the very last morsel gnawed off the bone by one Lion who went utterly carnivorous on us!
Yes, it comes in at an eye-watering 50 quid; but, if you have the bucks, then this is sure to provide the bang.
While these ribs had been “slow cooked for 24 hours”, all three Lions were agreed that the meat turned out both marginally tougher than we’d hoped for and quite stringy.
Taste-wise, this wasn’t quite there either. For one, the marinade used, which was beautifully viscous, had a slight acridity to it which marred its smoky sweetness.
A pity really, because, given their presentation, these Racking Ribs had us salivating from the get go.
BURGERS & SLIDERS
All our burgers are freshly made-to-order [and] served with brioche buns, salad gem, beef tomatoes and gherkins.
As per the above, this trio of smartly presented sliders also ended up flattering to deceive. Granted the beef patties were humongously elliptical in shape; but it wasn’t so much the size that concerned us, but their texture. As a result of being cooked well done, they turned out overly dry and, thus, quite unappealing.
For what it’s worth, the sauce used in the Inferno had a decent earthy rawness to it, which this slider could have done more of. The other two weren’t able to offer such redeeming qualities.
When compared to the sliders we reviewed in Leicester’s BRGR.BRO last week, these were forgettable.
Our collective spark of initial excitement, when confronted by this towering, 3-tier, signature house burger, was immediately snuffed out when cutting this in half and coming face to face with a trio of patties entirely well done and dry as a bone.
And because there was so much of the meat, the gorgeously gooey cheese and a thick juicy slice of portabella mushroom just weren’t enough to rescue things here.
As for the “signature onion ring”, then as the picture above might suggest, it turned out greasy and quite unappetising.
The Ranch Stallion has the potential of being so much more. On this occasion, sadly, it flattered to deceive.
Truth be told, this was actually a good’un, with the large pieces of buttermilk chicken coated in a crispy-cum-crunchy curry flavoured batter.
And though the poulty was a tad dry, we did enjoy the way in which the lime and harissa mayonnaise helped dampen the heat from the jalapenos therein.
It has to be said though, The Ranch certainly were generous with this burger’s fillings, especially given its price.
The chilli con carne topping of this Signature Texas Chilli Fries was the same as that used for the Chilli Ranchos starter.
With cheese melted over the top along with slices of jalapenos, we found this to be more enjoyable than the aforementioned nacho dish (though that’s not saying much).
In spite of these fries being good ‘n crispy, they were just far too liberally overseasoned with the Peri Peri, to the point that you’ll encounter a residue of the chilli powder coating your lips and tongue after each bite.
Kudos to The Ranch for investing their time and effort in making freshly-made crepes. And so we were presented with one as it ought to be – light and not too doughy.
The accompanying chocolate, bananas and homemade ice cream meant that this was neither too rich nor overly sweet, but just right in terms of flavours and texture. A good dessert!
Likewise, this Oreo Waffle too was freshly made-to-order, with their logo of a bull cleverly stenciled in the corner of a black slate using plenty of icing powder.
With loads of crushed Oreos, nutella chocolate and sliced strawberries covering what were wonderfully airy, warm and crispy waffles, this was a decadant end to proceedings, with a bonus pot of velvety vanilla ice cream.
As for this Freakshake Chocolate Brownie Delight, then, in essence, this was merely a combination of the above fresh waffle and a milkshake.
With segments of the brownie made available as an edible on the side, the shake erred on the watery rather than the thick side, with bits of the brownie coming through from time to time.
We’ve had far more elaborately made and better freakshakes than this. Nevertheless, if you’re struggling for stomach-space, but seeking to indulge your sweet tooth, then this is preferable over the other two.
- NO/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
- DISABLED FACILITIES
There's no denying their ambition and the effort invested into a setup that's clearly aiming to provide quality service. And with a menu this extensive, coupled with the fact that these are still early days for what are essentially first-time restaurateurs, one pressing question we kept asking ourselves was: Have they bitten off more than they can chew (no pun intended)?
It's evident from our interview with the co-owner that their aim is to provide quality Halal steaks and gourmet burgers that one would normally have to travel into central London for, especially in relation to the former. And yet, while the single steak we did have, i.e. the Tomahawk, was an extremely good one, in the end, we felt as though most of the dishes appeared to fall on both sides of the spectrum, that is to say, there were enough which weren't as well executed as they should have been.
Given their scope, aspiration and evident passion, however, it's only a matter of time that, once the horns are sharpened, The Ranch will begin to reach the potential it's aiming for.
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