What sets a steakhouse apart? The décor? The service? What must ultimately set a steakhouse apart is the quality of the meat that is served. Vail Ranch Steakhouse dry-ages its beef in house, setting themselves apart from any steakhouse, in fact, any restaurant, in the area. Owner Ron Walton wanted to create a place where people could have a traditional steakhouse experience, in a beautiful environment, while eating the best quality, humanely raised, beef possible.
The experience begins as soon as the doors open. Immediately to the left is the humidity controlled dry aging room, with a glass wall, so all the cuts and assortments of beef
can be clearly seen. The large sunken bar is a centerpiece of the restaurant, and the raised stage with the grand piano is the backdrop. Vail Ranch is elegantly decorated, with dark wood, and custom stained-glass panels. A large stone fireplace and bare tables add casual warmth.
The extensive and varied menu is further evidence that this is not a typical steakhouse. Chef George Kapetsonis has created a menu that reflects his extensive and varied background. There are influences from Italy, Japan, Hawaii, and his home state of Louisiana. There is also a great selection of steakhouse standards. He went to Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Las Vegas Nevada, but his passion and involvement with food goes back to childhood days spent in Louisiana. There Kapetsonis hunted, fished, and picked vegetables from his grandmother’s garden.
“I know what food, fresh food, tastes like, which makes it hard on my vendors sometimes,” he laughs. “I know what a freshly picked vine-ripened tomato is supposed to taste like, and that is what I want in my restaurant.”
He also knows the importance of eating seasonally. The menu at Vail Ranch Steakhouse changes to best showcase seasonal fruits, vegetables, and fish.
When asked about his influences and philosophy, the chef’s enthusiasm is contagious.
“I want to take the classics and refine them, put a spin on them.”
A dish as simple as Au Gratin potatoes get the full French chef treatment, with a two day process that includes infused cream, and pressing the potatoes into a firm, well seasoned cake.
Kapetsonis is traditional in the kitchen, demanding organization, and respect, and innovative in his handling of food. He cares about where his food comes from, and how it is raised. He speaks passionately about using humanely raised beef, citing Temple Grandin’s work to change the way cows are raised. All of Vail Ranch Steakhouse’s beef is from the very program established by Grandin.
“Every step leads to this,” he says, gesturing toward the meat in the dry aging room. “If you don’t appreciate what it took to get here, you won’t treat it with respect when it gets to the kitchen.”
Kapetsonis’s knowledge and passion, along with Walton’s vision and attention to detail, have created a steakhouse worth visiting. The food is top quality, the wine list, including about 20 local wines, is extensive, and the atmosphere is beautiful.
Vail Ranch Steakhouse is located in the former Temecula landmark, the Hungry Hunter, on Jefferson.
Vail Ranch Steakhouse: 27600 Jefferson Ave, Temecula, CA
Phone: (951) 694-1475