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Marilyn Hagerty: The Ranch offers supper club ambience of years past

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Devils Lake, N.D.—It sits as a remnant of the past, and the Ranch Steakhouse flourishes in these days of chains and fast food restaurants. It was the destination when I went with my niece, Joanne Jensen (JJ) on a September outing.

There at the Ranch, we found dinners of walleye and roasted pork served in a upscale dining room with rich wooden walls and fresh flowers on the tables. We talked about the days of supper clubs such as the Bronze Boot and the River Bend—now long gone from the scene around Grand Forks.

The Ranch Steakhouse is easy to find. It is, in fact, a landmark in Devils Lake at 1119 Highway 20 S. You need no reservations. The front part, which is mainly a bar with food, opens at 4 p.m. daily. From there, you can take a long stairway to the main dining room. Or, as we later discovered, most customers drive up a slight incline outside and go in a rear door leading to the dining room.

My honey pepper pork loin ($15) was a thick cut packed with herbs and cracked pepper blend. Then roasted with clover honey. A fine meal with salad and wild rice pilaf. For JJ, who lives in Sacramento, Calif., the choice had to be walleye ($19). Hers was served with caper dill tartar sauce.

Our service was excellent. A half dozen servers, dressed formally in white and black, were ready when the first customers started showing up around 6 p.m. The dinner guests came in pairs, in groups and families. Many seemed like regular patrons.

The ornate restaurant is rich in history that is shown in the décor. One plaque bears the name of Lloyd and Maxine Engh and is dated 1882-1957. It bears the words, "The Old Gray Farm ain't what it used to be."

Among the many messages posted around the restaurant is one near the back entry. It says: "Unattended children will be given espresso and a free kitten."

The Ranch, Devils Lake

1119 Highway 20

Owner-chef: Joel Elvrum

Hours: Opens 4 p.m., closes 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 p.m. Friday, Saturday

Seating capacity: 150

No reservations

Report card: Prices reasonable. Food ranges from good to excellent. Ambience beautiful, rich in history. Service top grade.

Reach Marilyn Hagerty at or by telephone at (701) 772-1055.