Food for thought is no substitute for the real thing--Walt Kelly

Our first target ended up serving the first meal of the day—breakfast!!  Many people don’t even know about the Ranch House Cafe, an old red building located near Safeway.  But they certainly are missing out on a rather delicious dining experience!  Everybody’s heard of Millie’s in Lafayette, but the Ranch House is both closer to home, and cheaper (though without the coffee cake). 

So, now for our critique:

Atmosphere: Homey, if a little bit shabby, but the place is located in a 130+ year old building, so we can forgive it that!  Inside, nestled between the wonky walls are basic diner booths and a dozen-odd other tables.  When we got there (just before 9 in the morning on Saturday) 4 other tables were occupied, but we’d say that peak hour for this place is closer to 10 as families go for brunch. Overall, the noise level when we were there was perfect, enough conversations were happening but you didn’t have to scream to get your point across the table.

Service: Generally friendly, though impersonal.  We were seated immediately, our drinks and food came quickly, as did the check when we were ready to go—plus, we were offered more hot water for our tea (in individual tea pots!!!), which we considered a plus!

Food: On to the important part of this review—the FOOD.  Breakfast food is pretty difficult to mess up, but we’re sure everybody has had an unpleasant breakfasting experience at least once before (cough*airportfood*cough).  Happily, the Ranch House gave us a pretty good, filling breakfast.  We ordered the Ranch House Special (2 pancakes, 2 eggs any style, 2 sausage links or bacon slices, and choice of juice), Blueberry pancakes (which was the special of the day), and biscuits with gravy as a side dish, as well as two mint teas.  The pancakes served with both dishes were perfectly cooked, fluffy, and tasted delish.  The blueberry ones had a lot of fresh blueberries scattered evenly throughout.  The eggs, ordered sunny side up, were likewise perfectly cooked, though the sausage links were very oily and a bit salty.  Perhaps bacon would’ve been better?  The biscuits and gravy were a bit of a miss—dense biscuits in a rather flavorless (and yet, strangely, salty) gravy with bits of sausage scattered throughout (which we thought was a nice touch).  The gravy, despite being overly salty, was light and creamy, which was nice.  Finally, the little things we liked—real, pure maple syrup in the syrup dispensers, almost-fresh-squeezed-tasting orange juice, and generally sweet, ripe fruit on the side of each of our dishes (though we would’ve skipped the out-of-season orange slices and bland strawberries).  Additionally, the portion sizes were *perfect.*

Price: We payed a total of $25 (including the tip) for our meals and our drinks.  The Ranch House special, which gave us about 13 bucks’ worth of food for only $8.50, was an excellent deal (perfect for hungry college kids!).  Most of the items on the menu ring in under $10, and again, the portions are very good! 

The Rating: 3.5 happy Moraga cows out of 5.  A solid breakfasting experience!  We recommend it!  Skip out on your usual Nation’s oily breakfast and give The Ranch House a go!