Art: Wednesday, September 15, 2004
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Ssssssmoking

Ssssssmoking, Part I

Chow, Baby has frequented the Lancaster/University/W. 7th quarter for years now, thanks to fave-hangout Fred’s, but only last week noticed Ranch Oak Farm’s outlet store two blocks away at 3005 Bledsoe. Yet owners Tom and Carol Misfeldt, who took over the concern in 1979, insist they’ve been in that location for years. Somebody is twilight-zoning Chow, Baby, because the Misfeldts don’t look much older than their grown children, pictured with them on their website (www.ranchoak.com). Either they went into business when they were still in middle school, or they’ve discovered that the fountain of youth is spouting barbecue sauce.

Said sauce comes with mesquite-smoked brisket (6 lbs, $38), one of the delicious meats that Ranch Oak Farm smokes, freezes, and ships all over the country. Though most of Ranch Oak’s business is mail order — family packs, deli trays, holiday gifts, and the like—you’re welcome to drop by the store, if you can find it. Tom and Carol took plenty of time with Chow, Baby, showing off their spiral-sliced bone-in ham (8 lbs, $42), crusted with caramelized honey and spices; smoked peppered pork tenderloin (2 lbs, $23), and their signature smoked turkey (10 lbs, $32), the foundation of the business in 1941. (Higher prices on the web site include shipping and handling.)

But here’s the thing that really spoke to Chow, Baby: Ranch Oak Farms offers a Meat of the Month Club! All the above plus smoked chicken (September), sugar-cured ham (December), beef summer sausage (June), and more. The only thing that could make this better is if it came with a club t-shirt. The web site price, including delivery, is $370, but Chow, Baby will gladly pick up its gift at the store each month to save you the shipping charges.

Ssssssmoking, Part II

Just around the corner from Ranch Oak Farms is Pop’s Safari, 2929 Morton. This is a wonderful-smelling cigar and wine shop that also happens to have a small dining area in the back, though the food is definitely not an afterthought. The lunch menu runs toward soups, sandwiches, burgers, and daily specials — often venison, which goes great with the Hemingway-esque man’s man atmosphere here. Prices are a little high, but not ridiculous; Chow, Baby likes to think of it as $5.95 for the burger and $2 for the atmosphere, and everything comes out all right.

The service is great, too. When Chow, Baby desired a Napoleon burger, Becky knew the kitchen was out of an essential ingredient (the caviar) — no time wasted placing a bad order — and recommended the Yankee apple burger ($7.95) instead. But Chow, Baby doesn’t like onions on its burger. But, says Becky, the onions are caramelized and work very well with the apples and smoked provolone. And she was right. (Also the Black Angus chuck was cooked perfectly.) So Chow, Baby entrusted Becky with choosing a dessert, and she returned with an incredibly scrumptious, not killer-sweet slice of housemade bourbon pecan pie ($4.95). For competence and good judgment beyond the call of duty, and only incidentally because she’s easy on the eyes, Chow, Baby anoints Becky server-throb of the week.

You can reach Chow, Baby at chowbaby@fwweekly.com.


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