Eat like an Alcatraz prisoner


Do you smell what “The Rock” is cooking? And more importantly, do you want to taste it?

Beginning Aug. 8, you can take a bite out of prison life with an Alcatraz-inspired three-course dinner at the Eclipse restaurant in San Francisco’s Hyatt Regency hotel.

The dishes, which will be served on metal prison trays, are inspired by the last meal ever served on the floating prison in March 1963.

Along with the impeccable view, inmates on Alcatraz Island were also treated to delicious food. The prison’s first warden James A. Johnston theorized well-fed men were happy men, so he provided good meals to minimize riots.

sample dinner menu from September 1946 included roasted pork shoulder with sage dressing, mashed potatoes with gravy, stewed corn, split pea soup and apple pie.

And let’s not even get started on the decadent Thanksgiving spread. (Extra giblet gravy on my oyster dressing, please!)

William Baker, a former inmate, recalled the hearty meals:

“The food at Alcatraz was as good as you would get in a good restaurant that specialized in home-cooked meals, better than most.”

Fresh ingredients were routinely shipped in from San Francisco, and inmate cooks took pride in their craft. With a small prison population that averaged 260, meals were also made in relatively small batches.

For his Alcatraz-inspired menu, Eclipse’s executive chef Victor Litkewycz aimed to modernize the classic comfort foods served at the prison.

He told HuffPost:

“I was trying to get into the heads of those who were cooking at this prison. What was available to them? Nothing exotic, not a wide range of ingredients. So it became a matter of letting the ingredients speak for themselves.”

The special Alcatraz menu coincides with the Hyatt’s exhibit “Alcatraz: Life on the Rock,” and will run daily from 5-10 p.m. through Sept. 2. For reservations, call (415) 788-1234.

Here’s what to expect from the prix fixe menu ($28):

Starter: Clam Chowder
Choice of Entrée: Boiled Short Ribs with Horseradish Sauce; Baked Meat Loaf with Pan Gravy; Spaghetti Italienne; or Baked Halibut with Spanish Sauce
Served with: Lettuce Salad; Fresh Green Beans; and Mashed Potatoes
Dessert: Banana Bread Pudding

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