Yeah, finally a restaurant filled this dead spot on Kirkman Rd opposite Valencia Community College. For years now the Metro West Sports Bar sign hung lonely in front of a closed building. Prior to that, I can’t even remember what occupied this spot. I do remember there was a fast change of hands. Red’s Ranch has all the hallmarks to stick around.
Outdoor picnic style benches greets from the parking lot. The wide open entrance welcomes to a dining room. So what now? Do I grab a seat? Is this waited service? Or counter service? Is there a bar? Live music strings from one side of the dining room, a bar hides behind some sort of partition on the other side and a food serving line is tucked towards the back. My advice, walk in, stop, look around, get your bearings and proceed. It is counter service. Now you know.
Once you figure out where the food is, it is eye candy for BBQ lovers. Food is laid out buffet style. At the start of the line is the carving station. The carver may slip you a little temptation, to wet your beak. You order meat, accompanied by sides, or go for sandwiches, dinner combos, specialties of the house, meats by the pound, something for little piggies (are those piglets or kids), slabs of dessert, oh there is salad. Who goes to a BBQ Smokehouse for salad? There is a full service liquor bar. Saddle up at your own risk, there could be a Texas style brawl anytime. No, this is Orlando. There are no brawls.
Smoked Prime Rib – with Cream of corn, collard greens, sweet potato casserole. Prime rib was a little over medium with firm texture. The sides, textures were all there but lacked any characters.
Southern Bourbon Cake – a good side slab of chocolate. But where is the bourbon?
Red’s Ranch is very similar, almost identical to another set of BBQ Smokehouses in Orlando, Four Rivers. Four Rivers ordering counters are in the front of the restaurant leaving no doubt as to the operation. Red’s Ranch food has all the textures and appearances, even the heavy smoke smell. But for my palate, I could not distinguish any particular flavors. There were flavors, just not something that grabbed my attention. This smokehouse is a nice addition to the Universal Studios Orlando Area. Given the great success story of Four Rivers, we can only wait and see.