Prairie Brewpub is back with a new menu, a full complement of 20 Prairie Artisan Ales on tap and its usual cool vibe in the Tulsa Arts District.
“We had a rough stretch there for a while,” co-owner Ryan Stack said recently. “We went through two or three chefs in nine months, then the pandemic hit. We shut down totally for two weeks, then a manager had a roommate who was exposed to the virus, and we shut down 16 more days.
“We went from a staff of 45 to six — myself, a general manager, assistant general manager, head brewer and a couple of servers. During the time off, we refigured what we had to do to manage our profitability.”
Antonio Gooday, a former sous chef at Bodean Seafood, was brought on to rework the menu. Stack and co-owner Zach Pritchard overhauled the beer operation.
“We cut two-thirds of the menu,” Stack said. “Antonio excels in plate presentations, in addition to being a great chef. He has developed a smaller but higher-quality menu.
“At the same time, we increased our brewing capacity. We’ve gone from being a small brewer to a medium-sized brewery, and Greg Anderson still is our brewmaster.”
We dropped by recently for an early dinner. Social distancing with tables, booths and bar stools was being observed, and we landed a booth next to the big window overlooking Main Street.
The menu indeed is lean, featuring three appetizers, two salads, four entrees and a dessert. We ordered fish and chips ($13), fried chicken ($16) and on the advice of adult grandchildren, mac and cheese ($14).
It took about 30 minutes for the food to arrive, and we passed the time people watching through the window — people walking their dogs, people pushing baby strollers, couples and singles walking down the sidewalk. It’s always interesting.
The grandkids were right about the mac and cheese, a rich and flavorful dish. It included braised short rib, bacon, roasted cherry tomatoes, macaroni and green onions in a house-made cheese sauce.
Fish and chips included two plump cod fillets that had been lightly breaded. The fish was flaky and fresh-tasting and came with a good tartar sauce and a large side of “crack” fries.
Crack fries can refer to several preparations of potatoes or simply can mean they are addictive. They traditionally are made with Kennebec potatoes, often used for fries and chips. Whatever, these skin-on fries were good and hardly needed the ketchup that came with them.
The fried chicken was an airline cut with a breast attached to a drumette. The white meat was reasonably moist and tender. It was covered in a thick, extremely crunchy beer batter and a ladle of mushroom gravy. The gravy also was pooled with a few chunky, roasted red potatoes. Collard greens also come as a side, but we substituted a plain side salad.
Other menu items included fried Gulf shrimp, flatbread, cheese board, seared salmon salad, watermelon and feta cheese salad, and jalapeno and cream cheese burger. The latter sounds like a great choice with a cold brew.
Prairie Brewpub, which has full bar service, offers beers made in-house, as well as some from Prairie Artisan Ales facilities in Oklahoma City and McAlester. The restaurant operates under the Prairie Artisan Ales umbrella.
Prairie is in the former Universal Ford showroom. White pentagon-shaped tile floors are original, and an old elevator that once moved automobiles from one floor to another still is intact.
The dining room is spacious and can handle fair-sized crowds. The floor features small white tiles with black trim, and a variety of clear light fixtures hang from the ceiling, which is elaborately decorated during the Christmas season.
Prairie Brewpub currently is participating in the new Weekends on Main promotion. On weekends at least through September, Main Street will be closed from Reconciliation Way to Cameron Street, and eateries along Main Street are offering outdoor dining.
Weekends on Main are scheduled from 5-10 p.m. Fridays, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. Individual business hours may vary.
In addition to Prairie Brewpub, participating businesses include Antoinette Baking Co., Chimera Café, Hunt Club, Ida Red and The Tavern.
Watch Now: No Peeps for Halloween or Christmas
Scott Cherry 918-581-8463 firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @ScottCherryTW
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