Prairie Berry Winery has distinguished itself as one of South Dakota’s premiere brands. Signature wines like Red Ass Rhubarb are found on store shelves statewide, while the picturesque flagship destination in Hill City is popular with tourists. Now, Prairie Berry is expanding its Black Hills drinking and dining experience to the heart of Sioux Falls.
Prairie Berry East Bank opened in the historic Frank Building (across the street from 8th & Railroad) in early June. The space feels vast – with soaring ceilings and massive, rustic beams – yet refined, with white marble countertops and shelves stacked with high-end retail products.
“We decided to come to this East Bank area of Sioux Falls, because it’s a bustling, growing area of the city,” says Emily Paulson, Prairie Berry’s Brand and Marketing Manager. “It’s a destination for retail, for food, for wine, for beer so it’s very appropriate for us to be in this area.”
Paulson says Prairie Berry East Bank began with what they know best – wine from Prairie Berry and craft beer from Miner Brewing Company. A short time later, the kitchen opened. Prairie Berry East Bank now offers a full menu. And although the eatery has a decidedly grown-up feel, they are striving to keep the brand (born out owner Sandi Vojta’s long family tradition of South Dakota winemaking) family-friendly by offering a children’s menu, vegetarian selections and options for people with gluten intolerance.
We sat down with Prairie Berry East Bank Executive Chef Mark Benedetto and Sous Chef Aaron Greening to talk about the menu, while sampling a couple of its most popular items.
MB:The menu and personality of the food comes from our chef out in Hill City. As far as the ingredients go, we’re sourcing everything we can find either locally or regionally. A lot of our cheeses are regional and a lot of our produce is local – from the Co-op and Sioux Falls’ farmers markets. Just down the street here is Breadico Bread Company. We’re getting bread from him and we’re going to bring some of his loaves into the retail side. Fresh greens, fresh local produce, regional cheese, South Dakota wines, handcrafted beers – all really fun, exciting food.
How have you put your own stamp on the menu?
MB:That goes back to sourcing the ingredients. In Hill City, Todd Gregson grows all their produce, so we had to find a new source for that. There was a lot of freedom to meet local vendors and try samples and get to taste products.
One of the places where we have the most creative freedom is with the epicurean bar, which we’re currently working on. It’s going to be sort of a sushi-style menu. Everything’s à la carte. Individual, handcrafted salamis and buffalo and artisan cheeses and Prairie Berry-made products that are specifically paired with the wines, so we can educate the customer as well as entertain them.
Let’s talk about the food we’re eating now.
MB: This is the Barbecue Chicken Pizza. It’s made with our house-made focaccia bread. We make that fresh daily. It’s all fresh ingredients and fresh chicken that we pull off the bone. We make our own barbecue sauce. It’s also got a little cilantro pesto drizzle on top.
We’re trying it with the IPA, because the bitter hops and sweet barbecue sauce are a great pairing.
Then we’re having the Anna Pesa Cabernet Sauvignon with the Trio of Spreads. It’s one of our artisan plates.
We have a little sundried and olive tapenade, which is garlicky and salty – almost like a bruschetta. And on the other side is a mushroom duck salad, made with a wild exotic mushroom mix. That pairs well with reds. Then we have goat cheese with our Prairie Berry-made Kick Ass Compote, which is a raspberry-rhubarb-jalapeno jelly. It’s all served with a toasted baguette.
How do you like to cook at home?
AG: I’m sort of a whimsical cook. I’ll hit the market on the way home and wander the aisles going, ‘Hmmm…what could be good today?’ I personally like to do a spin on comfort food. I mean, everybody can do a meatloaf, but I like to maybe put in a little spicy Italian sausage in it instead of regular beef. And always, if I’m going to cook at home, I make my own sauces.
MB: I shop the same way. I go to the grocery store for one meal. And honestly, it’s tough. We always joke about it, but the chef lunch and dinner times are 3:30 and 10:30, so we usually eat standing up and at odd hours. But when we do get a chance to come home, it’s all about comfort food.
What can we expect in the future from Prairie Berry East Bank?
MB: We’re always starting to plan the menu for the next rotation coming out. It’s constantly evolving. It’s always very centered around the seasonal wine and beer selections. The fall menu will have ingredients like corn and local pork. I know Sandi has a pumpkin bog beer that’s going to come out.
Why do you think this concept will do well in Sioux Falls?
AG: Even in my short time here, I’ve seen nothing like this in Sioux Falls. We’re looking to make the full experience unique in itself, but still homey and relaxed. One of the reasons I really enjoy working here and why I feel so blessed to be a part of it, is it’s a family business. And we’re all kind of a really close-knit family. We enjoy spending time together at work and outside work. It’s a really good community and quality of life.
Prairie Berry East Bank is open seven days a week. For more information, click here or call 605-496-7175.
Look for the recipe for Prairie Berry’s Open-Faced Avocado Sandwich in the August Issue of 605 Magazine.