dining dinner reviews online




The Branch Ranch has been featured in "Eat Your Way Across the U.S.A." by Jane & Michael Stern as well as in "Roadfood and Goodfood", a comprehensive restaurant guide of the "best" place to eat coast to coast in which The Branch Ranch was one of only fourteen restaurants included from the state of Florida!

Here is what these reviews had to say about The Branch Ranch...

    "Roadfood and Goodfood, The Branch Ranch"
The great moment is the arrival of the tower of vegetables.
Five hot pans stacked nearly two feet high, set upon the table
and explained by the waitress, one by one; baked yams,
scalloped eggplant, yellow squash, chicken pot pie, and pole
beans with ham and white potatoes.

In a second basket, already on the table, are little golden biscuit rounds warm and chewy. And to accompany the biscuits, orange marmalade, wonderfully bitter, with a powerful citrus flavor, plus strawberry preserves, packed with whole soft-textured berries, picked from local bushes. There is a salad tray, too, with genuine tomatoes, and there are pickled beets and crunchy bread and butter pickles, put up with lots of garlic and an alluring spice bouquet. Everybody who eats at The Branch Ranch
gets all of these things, as much as they want; plus, if you are so inclined, a slab of country ham or baked
ham, or prime rib or fried chicken. Ourselves, we don't mind sidestepping entrees altogether (ordering
the low-cost "vegetable plate"), although the chicken is good, so's the ham; but it's all the goodies on
the side that have made The Branch Ranch a legendary groaning board.
Simple cooking, plain and good. The baked squash is just that - a big yellow squash baked
whole in a pool of butter and milk; soft, comforting food. The yams are gigantic, fibrous, orange blimps.
The chicken potpie is a sunny casserole, shreds of meat and vegetables in milk gravy,
topped with powdery biscuits.
The way the vegetable stack comes to the table, it is natural for one person to stand and dole
out portions, just like at some mythical American Sunday dinner, the way it probably used to be
in the 1950's when The Branch Ranch was Mary Branch's home, and she used to invite friends
and neighbors in to share her bounty. Mary's reputation spread fast, and the Ranch grew, and
now it's a huge place with many dining rooms and tourists and a million calling cards from
around the country tacked onto every bit of wall in the entryway.
But it remains a lovely place to visit, a brief detour off the highway into a scenic countryside of orange
groves and grazing cattle. And despite its size, it is an apotheosis of farm cooking, and honest country
meal impossible to find anywhere else in Florida, a rare and genuine taste of the state bounty that
somehow manages to get shipped everywhere else in the nation but to local restaurants.

"Eat Your Way Across the U.S.A."
Farm feasts, served to hungry hordes: that's the Branch Ranch experience, a gourmand's ritual ever
since Mary Branch began inviting friends to dinner at her home in the 1950's. The private home has
given way to a vast barn of a restaurant; but that family-style meal never changes. Choose your
entree - chicken, ham (baked or country-style)
or steak - and it comes with a feast that includes pickled beets and bread-and-butter pickles,
hot buttermilk biscuits with marmalade and strawberry jam, candied yams, scalloped eggplant,
pole beans, baked yellow squash, and dumpling-topped chicken pot pie. Dessert is apple or
peach cobbler or coconut cake.

You'll wait for a table at busy mealtime, and the ambiance can be as hectic as a college mess
hall. But don't let the commotion dissuade you. A Branch Ranch meal is true and pure country cooking.

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