Prather Ranch Meat Co., well known in the Bay Area for their quality meats humanely-raised on small ranches, has opened their first takeout eatery in the Ferry Building. Located right next to the Prather Ranch Meat Co. retail store, American Eatery features meaty American comfort classics like dry-aged burgers, sausages, chili, ribs, grilled steak sandwiches, even pork scrapple.
The first thing to catch my eye on the menu was The Stonebreaker. Named after PRMC founder, Doug Stonebreaker, this ten napkin burger is essentially a poutine burger, loaded with fries, melted cheese curds, and gravy. When I asked chef Erica Holland-Toll the inspiration behind the burger, she said:
"When I was hired to open The American Eatery, I knew I wanted to use Doug's last name on a burger or sandwich, but it had to be a big bold sandwich to stand up to a name like Stonebreaker. Doug always says he's a meat and potatoes kind of guy and it was an easy jump from that comment to a burger with french fries on it...the cheese curds and gravy came about as the next logical step, and suddenly The Stonebreaker came to life."
Well this burger was definitely big and bold. The flavor of the dry-aged beef lived up to Prather Ranch's reputation, although it could have used a heavier hand with the salt. The cheese curds were an interesting touch, lending a mild tang and creamy melt to the burger. The meat gravy made everything deliciously messy. And the pile of fries on top just pushed this burger over the edge into gluttonous beauty.
The Chuck Wagon Chili Cheese Fries also required another ten napkins or so. Smothered in sweet and smoky chili made with hearty Prather Ranch chuck and creamy Rancho Gordo heirloom pinquito beans, the handcut fries sported all the fixings -- sharp cheddar, scallions, and sour cream.
The Chuck Wagon Chili is also available on its own, or as a burger topping. I'm sure once the American Eatery gets its organic hot dogs going too, you'll see a Chili Cheese Dog on the menu.
I spied the Steak & Egg Sandwich on the rotating weekend brunch menu and had to try it. Grilled skirt steak on an Acme torpedo roll served with an organic fried egg from third generation family-owned and operated Glaum Ranch, swiss cheese, roasted Far West Fungi mushrooms, and mushroom mayo…this upscale breakfast sandwich was full of gooey, saucy, meaty, hearty lovin'. I thought the steak could have used a bit more salt, but all in all this was a great sandwich full of savory juiciness. American Eatery makes great use of all the fresh produce and quality products from their neighbors, and this sandwich is a shining example.
While this menu is obviously geared towards meat lovers, don't count out the seasonal veggie offerings. The Braised Pumpkin & Leeks were perfect – buttery, creamy, and sweet, complemented with toppings of sage, pine nuts, dried currants.
Prather Ranch's new set up in the Ferry Building has made it infinitely easy to get some good meat into your life. At the meat shop, pick up your raw meat goodies. Around the corner, pick up your cooked meat goodies to eat on the spot, or prepared meals to take home (like a container of meatballs, or pulled pork, or marrow butter pats).
For design geeks, you may be interested in learn that most of the wood used in building the new storefront comes from an 1880's barn on Prather's Bella Vista ranch. If you look closely, you can still see holes bored by bullets and woodpeckers from days of the Wild West. Also, the lights fixed above the service counter are clad in genuine, hand-forged "diamond point" barbed wire, which was also reclaimed from the ranch.
Prather Ranch Meat Co. has long operated on the philosophy of supporting a whole animal sales model. With the opening of American Eatery, it seems they've completed the circle, allowing them to serve their customers along the entire journey from raw ingredient to ready-to-eat home-style meals. While there are a few touches to be ironed out (heavier seasoning of meat, crispier fries), I'm looking forward to seeing the new eatery hit its stride. With its focus on high quality ingredients raised with care, it fits seamlessly into the Ferry Building. The American Eatery represents the final expression of gratitude for all the hard work of the small, sustainable farmers and ranchers who make it all possible.
We stand for the whole hog – and the entire chicken, the complete steer, and the total lamb. Our goal is to offer high quality, sustainable, humanely raised meats in support of a whole animal sales model. This approach allows us to support small ranches while offering all our customers the peace of mind from knowing where their meat comes from.
-- Prather Ranch Meat Co., "A Different Breed of Meat Shop"
1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94114