Like in the Good Old Days

Location:Grill Ranch
Address:Angerner Bundesstraße 1024, 2232 Deutsch-Wagram
Status:Open (last checked on 20 May 2024)
Eaten:Spare Ribs, mixed salad, two beers (Villacher)

One can love Grill Ranch just for its address. House 1024 – 2 to the power of 10 – what programmer would not visit it for this number alone? The weird thing is, currently the street only has ten houses, the first one having the number 1 (which is hardly surprising) and the last numbered 1391 (which is totally bizarre).

I had known about the existence of the Ranch since at least 20 years, but it was only a few days ago that I finally felt an urge to visit it. Mainly, it was thanks to Google Maps, which told me it was reachable from my home by bicycle in 54 minutes. The actual ride, which included quite a few traffic lights, wrong turns and blocked roads was closer to an hour and a half, but nevertheless I managed to reach the restaurant before dark and, most importantly, before its closing hour.

If you have read my previous reviews of spare ribs restaurants, you know that quite often I make comparisons with Strandcafé. That was the place where I was first introduced to this wonderful dish, and the one that remains my quality standard. Or, rather, had remained until the restaurant underwent a major expansion and renovation and installed a high-tech indoor grill, replacing a very basic charcoal grill. That innovation certainly increased the consistency in quality, but resulted in the dish’s tasting consistently satisfactory, whereas earlier it could occasionally be utterly brilliant.

I am saying this because Grill Ranch seems to possess one of the older-style grills while using the same recipe of marinating and cooking spare ribs as Strandcafé in the good old days. The texture of the meat and the relatively high amount of salt brought up pleasant memories. The quality, on the other hand, was refreshingly uneven: one rack of ribs was a bit tough and contained a few small treacherous bones. The second rack, however, was lean and dry, very much like the best creations of the old Strandcafé.

Unfortunately, the similarities stopped with the ribs. The second major strength of Strandcafé was (and still is) its sauces – the garlicky white and the spicy red. Grill Ranch’s sauce is completely inept – sweetish and watery, tasting of nothing in particular. Instead of thin grilled potato slices, Grill Ranch serves a ton of roasted potatoes, which were unfinishable even with my spacious and experienced stomach. Even the mixed salad looked and tasted as an afterthought, though to be honest, these days Strandcafé’s salads do not impress either.

Where Grill Ranch wins is in the value for money. While Strandcafé has increased its prices to the levels that are not even funny anymore, the Ranch sells one rack for under 20 euros, and two racks (which are enormous) for less than 25. When I feel the urge to eat ribs again (which will undoubtedly happen soon), I am seriously considering to pass by Strandcafé, buy its sauces as takeaway and then head straight to Grill Ranch.

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