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Jul 3, 2008 10:43 PM

Harris Ranch - AWFUL

Driving 5 and decided to stop and try Harris Ranch - BIG mistake

Food - awful

Quality control - absent

Service - indifferent

Customer relations - lacking

I wanted to get something to go and they had a special of T bone with brandy/mushroom sauce, soup or salad, au gratin potatoes and asparagus

Cashier said food would be ready in 20 minutes and didn't need my name b/c "she would remember me". Fortunately I came back in 10 minutes and there was a new cashier! Someone was arriving with a to go order in a bag and I asked if it was my tbone and they said yes. I guess if I had waited the 20 min before coming back I would have had stone cold food.

I was planning to cut the steak before I left so I could eat it in the car (the plastic knife wouldn't "cut" it) - so I asked for a plate and steak knife. While they were getting it I took the food out and had a sip of the soup - split pea with ham. It was barely lukewarm, no flavor or seasoning with chunks of uncooked carrot and some mushy stuff (I guess that was the ham - tasted a bit like cardboard) - it was later thrown out - inedible.

Steak - was barely warm (and this was the minute it was brought out - looked and tasted like maybe it had been pre-cooked, definitely not cooked to order as I don't see how they could have done it in the short time given the volume of customers already waiting to eat there). Sauce was something that looked like 1/2 tsp of melted butter spread on top of the steak with 3 slices of button mushroom (about half a mushroom)! Steak was medium (ordered med-rare) with a lot of carbonized (read BURNED, not sear taste) cross hatch. Moderately good texture but no taste except carbon (no taste of sauce or seasoning).

au gratin potatoes were not even warm to the touch ( I did point out that if not kept hot bacteria can grow quickly - which was met with utter disinterest and this was the "manager") - they were replaced (at my request) with hot ones. These tasted like canned potatoes in white sauce - if there was cheese in there or any seasoning I'd be surprised. A little salt helped but...... really.

Asparagus - was MIA - when I asked if maybe I had misunderstood - "no.... it's missing ...I'll get you some". At least the asparagus was edible and a nice portion. Food was packaged with a clear top and nobody had noticed - not the chef, not the person who picked it up and delivered it....

I asked to speak to the manager (who turned out to be the guy who took 5 minutes to find me salt) and his response to all of this fiasco was "we'll do better next time".

Now before I had even known how bad the food tasted (alto did know it wasn't served hot) my response was "with all these problems I don't plan to be back".

I hate to say it but the $1.29 steaks I had (rarely) at Tad's in NY (not a place to be recommended in general) yrs ago were better than this.

How do they stay in business? In the main dining room they are charging upwards of $40 for the meat without anything (sides, sauces are all extra). Maybe it's all one timers and they just don't care. I did see a letter posted from the health dept. saying that their water met health standards (something I've never seen in a restaurant before) - so I guess they have had their health problems.

So an utter waste of $27 and a lesson learned.

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  1. Hey, I'm no fan of Harris Ranch restaurant, but a steak dinner to go and to be eaten while driving with plastic utensils...worse than a cell phone?!?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Gail

      Yes - but my plan was to cut it up before I left into "finger" size pieces so I could reach over and pop a bite in my mouth - hence the request for a steak knife to cut it up before I left :)

      The asparagus was good finger food!

    2. Well I have stopped there many times and my expereince is nothing like that at all. But I never ordered take out before. I ahve dined in both restaurants and I wonder where you ordered from? Is there a take out place or did you go to one of the restaurants to order?

      Every time I have been here the food was outstanding for steakhouse and coffee shop food. And the service always top notch.

      And the safety thing is crazy all over CA as far as restaurants go,especally with all the polluted water sites down that way. Couple of superfund sites....

      So sorry you weren't happy, but most of the overall posts here about this are positive. (Some are negative but not this negative) Yours is the first take out thread I can remember here too....

      2 Replies
      1. re: bennyboy1

        I ordered from the coffee shop - given that they were full they couldn't possibly have cooked my steak and gotten it out that quickly ( I assume the potatoes and soup were, of course, pre-made but certainly should have been kept at the proper temperature). Forgetting a main part of the meal seems to exhibit a level of carelessness that I wouldn't expect at that price point. Whether the food is take out or not shouldn't affect the quality (and I did end up eating 1/2 the meal standing at the cashier while waiting for the knife, the salt, the asparagus).

        Take out or not there just wasn't any excuse - nor was the situation handled well at all. The last time I was served something maintained at too low temp. - many years ago- the manager apologized after checking their storage oven and the chef came out to thank me b/c of their potential liability if anyone got sick- I didn't expect that but I also didn't expect the total lack of interest or concern demonstrated at HR , anyway ....

        the water thing is certainly NOT crazy all over Ca - I live in the bay area and have lived in S Ca and have never seen such a sign. Perhaps if I had known that it wasn't only animal waste (let's just say the cattle farms don't lend a lovely odor) and that there were superfund sites around I would have just kept on driving (as I will when I return in 2 days) and saved myself $27 and a gastronomic nightmare.
        Glad you've had better experiences but the board is about sharing all our opinions, isn't it?

        1. re: estnet

          I am not disagreeing with you at all. You had a bad experience for sure. I was curious as to why, when we have so many positive reports on this board.

      2. So sorry to hear you had such a negative experience. I finally stopped there after wanting to try it for years and had a wonderful meal. Everything was so delicious that it will now be a "must stop" on the way to Cambria and the Central Coast. Maybe they have issues with their "to go" quality control???

        I don't know, but I think that the overall opinions of posters here on CH have been positive, haven't they? It doesn't sound like they'll get another chance from you but maybe if you have time to dine in, you may enjoy it as much as we did...

        3 Replies
        1. re: LisaSD

          I think a "negative" post like this might encourage anyone else who's had a poor experience to post if they have just been 'shy' of doing so. Let's not disagree with this poster's opinions, but rather thank them, and keep an open mind.

          That said, take out orders from a sit-down establishment are often notorious for sanfus, and I cannot condone eating while driving, tid-bit size bites or not.

          Better luck next time estnet, and perhaps give the restaurant dining room a try.

          1. re: toodie jane

            Physically eating in the coffeeshop, I've had almost exactly the same meal as the OP. I've been told by others that the more expensive steakhouse is good, but I'll never find out. We now pack snacks so we can make it to Santa Clarita when going south. I'm always full of Original Tommy's burgers (Beverly & Rampart only, thanks) when headed north, so I don't have to eat for a couple of days.

            1. re: toodie jane

              Today we had late lunch at the Harris Ranch. All three of us had steak and enjoyed the meal very much. My ribeye steak was very tender and well seasoned (I like simple seasoning with salt and pepper, no sauce), and cooked rare as I ordered. My husband's porterhouse was slightly overcooked (he ordered medium rare). His complaint was that it was too thin (we are used to CostCo size thick cut).

              Serivce is what it is. It was not particularly awful as estnet said. At least, everyone was simply nice. We live in Los Angeles and we are used to service at places like CUT, MASTRO'S, THE PALM or RUTH'S CHRIS. But I would not expect such service from Harris Ranch Restaurant.

              All-in-all, it was a pleasant experience.

          2. Harris Ranch is a nice place, but the food is nothing I would brag about. I have stopped there many times....does anyone know of a good place to stop out on I-5 that is good?

            2 Replies
            1. re: howefortunate

              Harris Ranch for clean rest rooms. In 'N Out is the other choice. Otherwise drive fast and eat at either LA or SF.

              1. re: howefortunate

                the mother of all southern 1-5 threads:


                lots to explore here, but it usually means diverting a few miles; not more than a few though.

              2. We stopped stopping at Harris Ranch because 1) the service is slow and 2) the food is flavorless. The idea of a steak at Harris was always better that the reality. Now, on our many trips between Northern and Southern California, we drive on by.

                Last week we ate at a funky little Chinese restaurant across I-5 from Harris Ranch and actually had homemade dumplings there.