driving up to the elegant ranch building through spring
green alfalfa fields, red lava rock landscaping, and massive
umber buttes makes it easy to believe that this bend in
the Colorado River is “the prettiest and most dramatic
part of the Colorado Plateau,” as ascertained by Robbie
Levin, owner, founder and operator of The Sorrel River Ranch.
The view is simply spectacular.
The story of the ranch begins with Fred and Ida Stearns
(for whom Ida Gulch is named) who originally homesteaded
the place in 1903. After changing hands several times, the
ranch was bought in 1994 by Robbie and his wife, Hope, after
an extensive search along the Colorado River for what they
considered the most beautiful scenery. They built their
home with the idea in the back of their minds of hosting
visitors to their Eden. Six years ago, they realized this
dream and began a bed and breakfast which has incrementally
expanded to a first-class resort and full service spa.
Robbie and his wife, Hope, have created a luxury resort
that makes optimal use of its unparallel scenery. The landscape
is so magnificent and awe-inspiring that this is probably
what attracts most guests to the ranch in the first place.
The buildings on the ranch are made of quality materials-big
beams, slate tiles, cathedral ceilings. However, the best
feature of almost every room is enormous picture windows
overlooking breathtaking views of sorrel river, ochre buttes
and verdant fields.
The lovely River Grill Restaurant provides the perfect backdrop
to leisurely enjoy the vista. As customers ascend to the
second floor of the main building, they are greeted by a
self-playing grand piano and a choice between visiting the
elegant bar area or progressing farther into the immense
dining room. The cathedral ceiling creates an air of grandeur
surpassed only by the view through the windows. Dinner is
a particularly enjoyable meal in which to watch the setting
sun set the surrounding buttes ablaze in dazzling color
while in the foreground deer emerge in herds to graze on
the ranch grounds.
seating is available in a partially glassed-in porch encircling
the dining room. The controlled climate is a welcome feature
to counteract the extreme temperatures and winds that occasionally
arise from this dramatic landscape and allow for a comfortable
dining experience. Particularly now that the Spa Menu is
offered at lunchtime.
The Sorrel River Ranch officially opened their new spa in
April. The facilities include a traditional salon, a gym-all
of whose equipment faces a gigantic picture window facing
the river, fully decked out locker rooms with sauna and
Jacuzzi, five indoor treatment rooms and an outdoor massage
gazebo on the river. The River Grill Restaurant created
the Spa Menu to complement this combination of health and
Robbie, a health-conscious vegan, helped come up with an
assortment of savory vegetarian dishes that would nourish
the palette as well as the body. The staples of the menu
include Polenta Gardenera-marinated and grilled vegetables
served on top of a custard-like cornmeal patty with marinara
sauce, Fettuccine Pomodora-spinach pasta tossed with sun
dried tomatoes, grilled vegetables, olive oil, garlic, basil,
and shaved Parmesan, and Vegetarian Black Bean Chili-a vegan
version made with soy protein, black beans and southwest
seasonings, served over polenta. Fresh vegetable and fruit
juices are also available by the carafe.
Dinner Menu focuses more on indulgence and is better described
as “ranch fine dining,” according to Robbie.
The most distinctive (and delicious, in my opinion) dish
is the Barbecued Buffalo Ribs, which constitutes of a huge
helping of three free range buffalo ribs, rubbed in Memphis
Dry seasonings then slow cooked and basted with homemade
Sorghum Molasses Barbecue Sauce.
Other tantalizing options include the hand cut Aged Filet
Mignon wrapped in smoked bacon and the New Zealand range
fed Rack of Lamb in an herb crust, both dishes served over
a Burgundy Demi-Glaze. The menu offers mouth-watering temptations
for vegetarian and fish lovers as well. Every night, the
restaurant offers at least three fish specials flown in
daily. The River Grill strives to keep the menu interesting,
especially for guests who stay on the ranch for several
days at a time and wish to dine in each night.
The popularity of the ranch attests to its success. Not
only is the ranch often fully booked, they have also enjoyed
hosting high-profile clients familiar with first class accommodations.
Robbie displays his discretion by not divulging the names
of his celebrated guests (although I was able to confirm
that one very, very, very successful businessman in the
computer world-wink, wink, nudge, nudge-has stayed at the
ranch). Robbie’s philosophy is to “treat everybody
who visits us like they’re important,” so whether
you‘re a famous celebrity or not, the Sorrel River
Ranch is the place to check out (and maybe check in) to
pamper yourself with splendid surroundings and a sumptuous
The Sorrel River Ranch can be reached at (435) 259-4642
and is located 17 miles north of Moab on Highway 128. They
are open 7 days a week and their hours are: Breakfast 7:30-9:30
a.m., Lunch 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (March-October), and Dinner
starts at 6:00 p.m. Entrees on the Spa Menu range from $13-$23
and on the Dinner Menu from $18-$31.
Over Blue Cheese Slaw
prepared by Chef Richard Fields
large shrimp tails (peeled and
Memphis Dry Rub (1oz. each cumin,
coriander, paprika, brown sugar, granulated garlic,
salt and pepper)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup prepared barbeque sauce
2 cups shredded cole slaw
1/2 cup blue cheese salad dressing
Prepare the cole slaw by shredding
cabbage and carrots, finely tossing with Maytag Bleu
Cheese Dressing (or prepared Blue Cheese).
Dust the shrimp in the Dry Rub until
coated. Coat the bottom of a sauté pan with
olive oil and heat. Add the shrimp, cooking on each
side until done. Keeping the shrimp in, deglaze the
pan with the wine. After the wine comes to a simmer,
add the barbeque sauce and stir until slightly thickened.
To assemble the dish, arrange the
slaw in the center of the plate, place the shrimp
on top and drizzle the sauce from the pan over the
plate covering each shrimp.