After trying Ranch 45 Local Provisions’ melt-in-your-mouth beef sandwich at the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival, I knew I wanted to learn more.
Opening in 2018, Ranch 45 is tucked away in a boutique shopping center just north of the San Diego Fairgrounds on Via De La Valle. However, “don’t judge a book by its cover” certainly applies here. In fact, I struggled with the title of this column based on all that Ranch 45 has to offer.
Husband and wife co-owners Pam Schwartz (general manager and sommelier) and executive chef Aron Schwartz, along with sous chef and kitchen manager Duval Warner, offer treasured experiences for their guests.
For starters, all beef served is Brandt Beef — whether you are dining in, taking out, or grabbing a steak from their butcher case to prepare at home.
The Brandt family has been in the livestock and farming business since the early 1900s and started feeding cattle commercially in 1945. With the onset of consumer concerns regarding hormones and antibiotics in the early 1990s, the Brandt family decided to go against the industry standard and raise their animals naturally. Brandt Beef feeds its animals a vegetarian corn-based diet without hormones or antibiotics.
This produces the most consistent, highest quality, 100%-source verified natural beef on the market, creating a natural “farm to fork” operation. Additionally, Ranch 45 is confident they have the best Brandt Beef prices in San Diego County.
The Chef’s Daily Brandt Tasting is a perfect example of everything to love on Ranch 45’s menu. We shared this as our main meal the night Frank and I dined at Ranch 45. The 12-ounce Wagyu and Dutch Steak (trimmed NY Strip) beef combination, served with fingerling potatoes or hand-cut fries and asparagus or greens, with a pull-apart, fresh-baked tallow roll with house-made salted butter, was perfect for sharing.
Being an onion ring lover, I was spoiled by Aron’s “Pile of Onion Rings” side served with house-made spicy 1000 Island and ranch dressings.
We paired our dinners with Laird Jillian’s Blend, named after general manager Rebecca Laird’s daughter Jillian who was born the same year the blend was initially created. The cabernet sauvignon (64%), syrah (23%), and merlot (9%) amalgamation with splashes of malbec and petit verdot paired well with the lightly seasoned (salt and pepper) perfectly cooked (medium rare) beef.
Given its modest size, Ranch 45 has an impressive wine list, with wines from local wineries, such as Burtech Family Vineyard, to Napa Valley, Central Coast, and Oregon, and throughout the world, such as New Zealand, Italy, and France.
Selections included affordable by-the-glass options with $8 Weekly Wine Specials and surprises such as Caymus, Grgich Hills, ZD, and Laird Jillian’s blend.
Ranch 45 sells its bottles at retail prices and waives corkage fees for wines purchased on-site. A nominal $25 corkage fee is charged for customers’ favorite wines brought into the restaurant.
To further entice customers to experience their delectable beef, there is a one-third-pound Brandt Beef burger cooked to order with hand-cut fries for $12 and a daily filet mignon with two sides special for $55. For the ultimate beef experience, you can order the Dry Aged Brandt Beef for two entrée with Chino Farms greens, fries, and tallow rolls. Ranch 45 offers Caesar and wedge salads and a few seafood dishes to round out the menu.
Before the Chef’s Daily Brandt Beef Tasting, we had the Seasonal Burrata plate with house-made sourdough and extra virgin olive oil. We also enjoyed samples of the Dry Aged (45-day) NY Steak sandwich, a daily special. These were paired with one of my favorite white wines, ZD Chardonnay.
The NY steak sandwich was a great warmup for the main entrée. Make sure to save room for dessert. The chocolate chip cookie sundae and warm apple cobbler topped with a scoop of vanilla are great ways to finish a perfect meal.
Ranch 45 offers Butcher Shop dinners Wednesday to Saturday evenings from 4 to 7 p.m. Breakfast and lunch are offered seven days a week. Breakfast is 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and lunch is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a weekend brunch from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. They have also introduced Wine Wednesdays from 4:30 to 8 p.m. with 25% off bottled wine, wine-by-the-glass specials, and a select menu. Customers can dine in the dining room or al fresco on the patio.
For chilly or warm nights, guests can make reservations for the intimate private dining room. The private dining room is also a conference room for catered events and comfortably seats 12-18 guests. With a large-screen tv and computer hookups, it’s perfect for corporate meetings.
During our visit, Pam shared the great news that Ranch 45 will grow as they take over neighboring space. The additional space will provide a dedicated cutting room, more dry aging lockers, and expanded retail.
Anyone salivating after reading this column should consider taking in the Vega Vineyards Wine Dinner from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on March 22. Vega is Santa Barbara County’s oldest vineyard with famed winemaker Steve Clifton. Chef Aron and Duval have created a five-course tasting menu starring the 45-day, dry-aged Brandt Beef Ribeye paired with 2019 Nebbiolo. The cost is $95 per person and includes tax and gratuity.
Thank you, Pam, Chef Aron, and Server Miguel, for an outstanding Ranch 45 experience. Find more information at ranch45.com.
— Story by Rico Cassoni
Terra Bistro’s Chef Jeff Rossman, Restaurateur of the Year by the California Restaurant Association San Diego Chapter, is hosting a five-course Mediterranean dinner and wine pairing with certified sommelier Elaine Ardizzone from Vino Corso at 6 p.m. on March 21. The featured tasting is Spanish Style Lamb Pot Roast, white bean mash, chorizo, and roasted carrots paired with Ramona Ranch, Aglianico. The cost is $125 per person and includes tax and gratuity. RSVP at 619.293.7088.
— Meritage Wine Market co-owner and president Dustin Cano, wine buyer and event director Molly Brooks, Noah (a Santa Barbara wine buyer), and the team came home raving about the pinot noirs and chardonnays from Sonoma’s Ernest winery. Meritage in Encinitas will host Ernest winemaker Joseph Ryan from 5 to 8 p.m. on March 16 and premiere the exclusive 2021 Ernest Chard-On-Clay. Tickets for this Ernest Winemaker Meet & Greet are $40 per person, which includes wine & light bites from Venissimo. RSVP at 760-479-2500.
Rico Cassoni is the Exec Producer for Taste of Wine and Food. He and Founder/Advisor Frank Mangio, a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator, are two of the leading reviewers on the web. View their columns at tasteofwineandfood.com. Go to recent columns. Reach them at [email protected]