When I think of BBQ, I think of ribs. Big juicy meaty ribs. There are only a handful of restaurants in south Orange County that offer good BBQ and Wood Ranch is one of them. I have never dined there before so when Erin and I were invited to attended a Media event last week at the Irvine Spectrum location, I got super excited.
When we arrived we were shown to a beautiful private room with glass doors, a burning fireplace and beautiful slate floors. Alex Benes, The Sultan of Smoke and Head Chef at Wood Ranch Irvine greeted us at the table. Alex has been the head chef since 2009 and is absolutely brilliant as a BBQ master. I was blown away by his knowledge. Chef Alex attended the French culinary institute and has 4 diplomas.
We started by tasting a sampler of guacamole, salsa and creamy artichoke dip. The chips were delicious and has some kind of seasoned salt or paprika on them. I loved the guacamole. It was chunky and flavorful as was the spinach artichoke dip. The salsa was also very good and was a little on the spicier side. It was nice to be able to sample all of them in one sitting.
We also tried the pulled pork sliders. These fun little sandwiches are perfect to share with your party. The coleslaw and pickles were a nice touch and cooled off the spice of the sauce. I could have eaten this for my main course they were so good.
Next came our drinks, we ordered margaritas on the rocks with Grand Marnier and the Natalie Salad which had baby greens, candied pecans, gorgonzola, avocado, cucumber, and balsamic vinagrette.
Then we had these butter rolls that were like fluffy balls of pillowy dough. They did not need any butter and they melt in your mouth. We also tried the macaroni and cheese, the broccoli, and fiery Green Beans. The mac and cheese was so delicious and was unlike any mac and cheese I have had. It was not creamy but not dry either.
Next came my favorite side dish. The original peanut coleslaw. It was tangy and crunchy and it tasted so good with meat.
Speaking of meat, you definitely must try their ribs when you come here. We had the chipotle-cherry BBQ sauce on one rack of the ribs and Dry-rubbed, smoked sauce on the other. We also sampled the tri-tip and the BBQ chicken and the Texas style brisket. All of it was tender and the brisket was perfectly sliced.
We also had onion strings and sweet potato french fries as a side. Both were awesome and come with a side of ranch.
As if that weren’t enough we had to leave room for dessert. We tasted 4 different desserts: A Warm Chocolate Cake, Mom’s Deep-Dish Cobbler, The Best Cheesecake, and an Oreo Cookie Crunch. The chocolate cake came with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, hand-candied pecans.
The Deep Dish Cobbler came with Peaches or Granny Smith apples, whole grains, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla ice cream.
The Cheesecake came with Raspberry sauce and fresh berries and the Oreo cookie crunch? Well that dessert needs it’s own paragraph.
You see, the Oreo Cookie Crunch is by far the best dessert on this planet. It comes with Vanilla ice cream hand-rolled in ground Oreo cookies. and served with raspberry or hot-fudge sauce. The shell on this beauty is so scrumptious. I highly recommend this dessert whether you have room left or not.
During our dinner Chef Alex answered a bunch of our questions and enlightened us on the do’s and don’ts of BBQ’ing. I took a bunch of notes so I would love to share some of the tips I learned this evening.
- Put a rub on your your ribs to flavor them. Salt, sugar, brown sugar, cayenne pepper and paprika is a good rub.
- Slather mustard on your ribs for your rub to stick.
- Brown sugar has a higher burning point than white sugar
- Try to get your meat at room temperature before you cook it so it’s not resistant to heat. Let it rest after it’s off the grill.
- Thanksgiving Tip: Cook your turkey and rest your turkey, breast down because all the juices will flow into the breast
As Chef Alex Says: ” If you are not using wood to fuel the fire then you are not really BBQ’ing”