The Southsea Food Tour – Rancho’s Steak House

I have always wanted to go to Rancho’s as, not only have many people recommended it, but steak is also my favourite food. So, when I walked through those front doors I was full of anticipation. But, where I dreamed Rancho’s to be a delight, I only found it to be a disappointment.

I booked my table on the Thursday before via their online booking form. I intended to visit on Saturday night around 7pm and luckily a 7.30pm slot was available. I booked it with ease however as Friday rolled around, I received a call from the restaurant.

‘Sorry but we have to push your table back, is that okay?’ They told me.

‘Um, okay. What times do you have?’ I replied.

‘8.30pm.’

‘That’s a bit late, do you have any earlier?’

‘We have 7pm but we would need the table back by 7.30pm.’

‘Book me in for 8.30pm then.’

The conversation went. I didn’t mind too much as I could understand, it was a busy Saturday night running up to Christmas after all. But, at the same time, they should have updated their online booking form and I don’t like eating too late.

Anyway, I turned up the next day around 8.30pm and inside, Rancho’s was bustling, full to the brim with parties enjoying themselves over food and drink. The energy was incredible – full of so much life and buzz. I took my jacket off by the door and a waitress approached.

I told her my name and when I booked my table for. She found the booking soon enough but as she did so she gave me a sheepish look and said, ‘it’s not ready yet.’

‘It won’t be long,’ she added, ‘you are welcome to wait outside or go to the pub next door.’

I refused as I wasn’t in the mood to go to Shenanigans, the Irish pub, or linger outside in the winter cold. So, I awkwardly waited by the front of the restaurant thinking about how cramped everything all was.

Rancho’s Steak House, situated on Osbourne Road, is part of a larger chain of restaurants. Their other locations include Fareham, Bournemouth and Southampton. They have been known as ‘the South Coast’s meat lover’s paradise’, according to Taste of Portsmouth, and have various deals during the week, including unlimited ribs on a Wednesday. It seemed popular and the proof was right in front of me – a fully booked restaurant.

Twenty minutes later was when I was sat down. The waitress had put some tables together for me and as an apology offered to buy me a round of drinks. That was very nice of them, I thought, as I settled down into my seat.

I liked the interior of Ranchos. It had a Spanish vibe with red and black walls, moody lighting and some upbeat music stirring underneath all the conversation. They had clean black tables and leather seats and on one wall, they had their signature bull ready to charge.

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It had a nice vibe and as I peered into the drinks menu, they had a nice selection too. They had plenty of wines and spirits as well as cocktails where you could buy 2 for £10. The prices were reasonable too so I ordered a small glass of their Sauvignon Blanc.

The waitress hurried away and as she returned, she brought over my drink as well as a basket of bread. It came with garlic dipping sauce which was a nice touch and my wine was chilled to perfection and went down a treat.

The food menu, a bit battered in my hands, continued the trend of a large selection. Their starters included nachos, barbeque ribs and charcoaled grilled prawns and their mains, of course, had steak, lots and lots of steak. They offered various shapes and sizes including a T Bone, rump and fillet varying from 8oz to 14oz. There was even an option to ask for a bigger size and I wondered what would be the largest steak they could do…

On the menu, there were also ribs, burgers, salads, fish, surf n turf and even a combination of rump, tenderloin and sirloin steak if you couldn’t decide on one. They had plenty of options – some unique to Ranchos – such as the Gran Parillada which is a mixed grill including chorizo, lamb chops, rump, sirloin and marinated chicken fillet. They only had two vegetarian options including vegetable fajitas but what are you expecting from a steak house?

Their sides were also expansive with garlic chips, onion rings, potatoes and rice and, as I stared at each choice, I noticed something which deterred me a little. The prices were a little higher than average with a small rump steak costing you £10.50. It’s no news that steak is expensive, even at the best of times, but this cost didn’t include any sides. It was literally just the steak with a small side salad. Everything else you had to add to the price which quickly racks up. In most places I have been to, the steak comes with chips at least, sometimes a tomato, mushroom and maybe some onion rings.

When the waitress came back I had demolished all of the garlic butter and complimentary bread. I ordered myself a small, rare rump with spicy garlic chips and onion rings. This came to a total of £15.20, excluding the wine, which lingered like a harsh slap to the wallet.

The food didn’t take long to cook and as it came out, I was also given three dipping sauces – blue cheese, barbeque and garlic. I liked this and as the waitress placed my steak down in front of me I realised it was perhaps all I liked. The side salad which came with the steak was pathetic. All it was, was a tiny pile of shredded lettuce and a singular slice of tomato. It had some vinegar dressing on it but that was it.

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The steak was thick and as I cut it open, it was lovely red colour. I took a bite. It wasn’t the best steak I have ever had but it wasn’t the worst. It was a bit tough and chewy in parts and slightly above room temperature. By the time I had got halfway, it had already grown cold.

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The garlic chips or saute chips were small disks and although they were crispy on the outside and hot and fluffy on the inside, they were barely garlicy at all. The onion rings, like the rest of my food, were okay.

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At the very least, my meal filled me up.

It was 15 minutes later, after I had finished, that my table was cleared and I asked for the bill. When it arrived, I found they had charged me for my drinks. It took me another 10 minutes to grasp the waitress’s attention and tell her about the mix-up. She quickly apologised, sorted it out and gave me the card machine.

As I entered my pin, the fire alarm sounded after a member of staff lit some birthday candles. With the obnoxious noise sounding in my ears, I quickly left. That was the last straw.

I had high hopes for Ranchos and sadly it did not deliver. The food, at best, was mediocre and the cost and poor service made my first Rancho’s experience a bad one. It’s expensive and the night, from start to finish, was tedious. Maybe I just had bad luck.

Rancho’s steakhouse has been called a ‘meat lover’s paradise’ and although they have a lot of choice, quality is better than quantity. It’s all well and good to have a lot of something but it means nothing if you don’t know what to do with it. I’m sure there is a penis joke in there somewhere.

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