Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fun Playing With [Prairie] Fire

Our Wednesday in Chicago was turned, by the judicial system, into a "start over."  After a year and a half of litigation, this was very disappointing. By 6pm, we knew that we were done, and that we'd be leaving the next morning. Mentally and physically exhausted, I spoke with my friend Ronnie, who proceeded to call over to the relatively new Prairie Fire to get us a table. As it turned out, they were fully booked on a Wednesday - and after sampling some of the wonderful food dished out by Chefs Sarah Stegner and George Bumbaris (the same folks behind the suburban Prairie Grass Cafe), I can understand why!

We started out at the bar with a couple of cocktails. My eye was drawn hither:

Pineapple Infused Fris Vodka

Our wonderful bartender, who's name has unfortunately slid through the sieve that was my brain, was kind enough to share a taste of this lovely nectar. Chef Sarah saw us at the bar, and sent out some nibbles while we waited for our table.

French Lentils Slow Cooked with Tomato Marmalade, Crumbled “Capriole Farm” Goat Cheese and Crispy Shallots 

Nueske's Bacon, Spring Onion and Goat Cheese Pizza

No sooner did these plates touch the bar than our table was ready. So, we headed for the table, with our food and drinks following smartly behind us. The service at Prairie Fire is simply superb - all teamwork, no waiting!

The food was worth a wait - the lentils were just the right texture, and infused with so many lovely flavors. The shallots provided a crunchy counterpoint, and the goat cheese melted in the mouth. The pizza was also very tasty - though I'm not sure that it was really "pizza" - the crust had just enough chew, and the toppings melded perfectly on the palate.

The bread was also exquisite, especially when topped with the heavenly, unsalted butter and immersed in the lentils.

The preliminaries had us dangerously close to full before the entrees could arrive!

Dinner special: Housemade Goat Sausage with potatoes and goat cheese, microgreens 

Bob's entree, a one-off, featured the most ethereal Goat Sausage.

Moussaka: Layers of Braised “Mint Creek Farms” Lamb, Potato, Eggplant and Golden Crusted Bechamel Sauce 

My entree was also delicious - amazingly tender lamb, layered with savory eggplant, potato and a decadent sauce that was determined to cheer me from the rotten day I'd had.  Half came back to the hotel room (and spent the night in an ice bucket before returning to Cleveland).

Though we should have been too full - we planned to order dessert. Then, our server appeared with the following:

Banana Creme Pie

Warm Sticky Toffee Date Cake with Ice Cream 


The pie was lovely, but the dessert winner was this amazing Date Cake with Toffee topping - as a sucker for anything toffee or butterscotch, I was a very happy camper. Even Bob the chocolate fiend agreed that this was one of the best desserts he'd had - the combination of date and toffee was simply sublime. We greatly appreciate the Chefs' generosity.

Chef Sarah had told us that the restaurant was anxiously awaiting a review by Chicago Tribune food writer Phil Vettel, which they'd been advised would be in the next day's paper. I'm pleased to report that Prairie Fire scored 3 out of a possible 4 stars, in a review available here. Though we would have preferred for this meal to have been a victory celebration, our dinner experience at Prairie Fire was just what the doctor ordered  after a wasted 400 mile trip - a comfy bar, delicious local food, very reasonable prices, and exquisite service. Hope that it continues to do well. We certainly had fun playing with [Prairie] Fire!

1 comment:

  1. I've made pineapple infused vodka at home before - SO good. Ridiculously good. I wish I would've made more.

    I would have been a sucker for that date cake, too. It looks awesome. I love any variety of spice cake, especially warm!