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Sep 29, 2008 12:17 PM

Don't believe the hype: Ramos House Cafe

Took the train down to San Juan Capistrano this weekend to hit Ramos House, tour the neighborhood and hit the mission. While two of the three were great, Ramos House was a miss. I know this will tread on some "foodie" gospel, but really it wasn't worth the price of admission.

The owner, John Q (or John Q Humpheres... whatever pretentious name he goes by) didn't acknowledge our party as he was chit chatting with others at the host's desk. We stood and waited for an uncomfortable period of time until he decided we were worth his time. At that point he lead us five steps onto the patio and pointed at a table, "take that one". Gee, special service.

We were seated for brunch (that is all they serve on weekends) and it is $35/head. The menu looked interesting enough and we both enjoyed first courses (white bean soup and basil cured salmon), however, upon receiving second course we both scratched our heads... Duck hash was lacking in anything resembling duck. Other than that it was marginal. She also had a hash, crab I think, and while it was good, we both thought that there were far too many elements of either dish to make them successful. It was like giving a three year old a box of crayons and telling them to color you a sky... way too many colors. Basically, it was my father's idea that it is all going in the same place, so you really can't taste one discernable item. It is like he took all of his best cooking technique and piled them on those plates which is a horrible idea.

I had a bloody mary, which was good, with the quail egg... which ran the charge for said bloody mary up to roughly $20. Now let me tell you, I've never once had a bloody mary worth $20 and this weekend was no different.

Not to mention that service, for the most part, was a bit off.

So after receiving the bill for $97 for two people for a two course brunch (mind you I've had cheaper breakfasts that were better at a 4 Seasons resort on Lanai), no extra drinks other than the bloody mary, we both decided that we wouldn't visit again. This place is seriously overated and the owner seriously ego inflated.

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  1. I was underwhelmed after my only visit here several years ago as well.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JAB

      Same here..terrible service, long wait, chit chatting waitstaff, mediocre food. Never returned after my one and only meal there. Go to Tea House instead.

      1. re: trvlcrzy

        Don't go to the Tea House unless you want to be served bad eggs and be treated rudely when you don't eat them. Manager ruined what could have been a salvageable visit. (Tea, scones and location were nice.) I have a crazy rule in life to avoid mean and nasty people whenever possible.

    2. The first time i ate at RHC i thought it was pretty good. The location is nice and the garden area is very pleasant. I thought the food was good but that the prices were pretty high for a brunch. On subsequent visits, i have been disappointed by the fact that the menu is largely identical as it was years ago when i first visited. Basically its the same 3 course brunch, consisting of all the same dishes. I think they have potential, but they really need to open it up and stop relying on the same old stuff to get them by.

      1. It's overpriced and the quality varies, but I still really enjoy it. They upped the weekend brunch price, which borders on not worth it, even for me. Never had the duck hash, so I can't comment, but the blackberry pain perdu is wonderful. And, yes, I agree that the owner is annoying.

        The Tea House is terrible. I wouldn't go out of my way to eat there.

        1 Reply
        1. re: emily

          It was a "find" when it first opened, but over the years, it has morphed into an overpriced (esp for the weekend brunch) shell of itself. Price of brunch has gone up over 50% (it was $20 about 6 or 7 years ago) and John Q seems to have bought into the hype of having a popular place with long lines on the weekends, and has gone from quirky to arrogant. Food is gussied up comfort food and not even close to worth it.

          Oh and the Tea House, even worse...

        2. I agree with your article, the food is good, but over priced. I took my girlfriend there just yesterday, she loves the place, took the recipe book she purchased for a mere $35.00. Upon leaving my friend was chatting up the owner, while holding her book............finally I butt in and asked him to sign it for her. I found him to be quite pretentious as well. It goes a long way when the owner cruises the restaurant and smiles and nods. For the two of us, no drinks, just water, the bill came to $49.00.

          1. I just went to the Ramos (April 2013) with about eight family members, and we had the Sunday brunch. Yes, it is pricey, but we all enjoyed our dishes very much, and the mixed mimosas were both generous and delicious. We especially liked the fact that, while the dishes were creative and presented with "foodie" flair, they didn't go into contortions with excessively exotic combinations in the way that many foodie-havens go for. We didn't encounter the owner, but the woman who seated us, and those who served us, were great. I don't know if I'll ever be back in San Juan Capistrano but should that occur, I'll be happy to give the Ramos another try for lunch or dinner.