I had a strong feeling that inventive chef Anthony Strong was going to go his own way during this pandemic, under the same takeout- and delivery-only orders as the rest of the city's restaurants. And he has.
At his one-and-a-half-year-old 19th Street restaurant Prairie — where he had just been in the middle of a different kind of pivot involving a back-room, communal table, prix fixe concept — he has just debuted Prairie General Store. It's just what it sounds like, but with a bunch of very San Francisco touches that will warm the heart and stomach of every neighborhood gourmand who's been having trouble finding quality meats and pantry items.
"We’re trying to not be too gourmet," Strong tells SFGate. "I don’t want to be a yuppie food boutique." He notes that in addition to pre-batched house cocktails and high-end meal kits, the store is also selling single toilet paper rolls, tins of sardines and anchovies, and Gold Medal cornbread mix. "I’m from Iowa. Gold Medal was across the river form us when I was growing up," he says.
Strong has been a master of the pivot in the last few years, and having already tried running a delivery-only restaurant called Young Fava three years ago — which became a victim of its own success and shut down after only a couple of weeks due to overwhelming demand and too little kitchen space — he already knew the pitfalls of trying to turn Prairie into a delivery and takeout operation with much of his competition in the city also trying to do the same.
With the general store, he's able to offer people some decidedly gourmet meal kits like beef cheek pappardelle and charcoal-grilled lamb blade chops with little gem salad, as well as plenty of humble pantry items like canned tomatoes and high-quality broths to let people up their games in their own home kitchens. There's also fresh bread from Acme and La Brea Bakery, and prices are pretty reasonable across the board ($7 for a four-pack of La Brea ciabatta rolls, $1.25 for grapefruit La Croix).
There are also full bottles of wine and spirits for takeout as well, including Japanese whiskeys, mezcal, and several vodka options.
Place orders here for quick pickup, or feel free to walk by Prairie General Store between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. — gloves are provided, as is a sanitized boxing table.
Photo courtesy of Prairie General Store