After my wife finally convinced me to bother blogging, we decided to go to Prairie Ink (the restaurant inside McNally Robinson). Having an attached bookstore is its own treat but let’s move to the food, drink, and service.
The menu is on the small side, though good. We had the Stuffed Zucchini to start. Zucchini is disgusting when undercooked, and just as repulsive when limp, flaccid, and overcooked. Ours was spot on. The tomato, pepper, garlic, and Parmesan cheese stuffing was nice, but the overall effect slightly underwhelming. That is until, mixed with the balsamic glaze dotted on the plate. This wonderfully rich, lightly acidic, yet sweet accompaniment played against the veggies delightful. Unfortunately there was not enough of it on the plate. The majority of my mouthfuls where “sans sauce,” and therefore just okay.
Following this, my wife had the Harvest Fiochetti with gorgonzola, ricotta, and Grana Padano in a creamy citrus pesto. Pasta filled with cheese needs to be worked at in order to be destroyed, and they did no such thing. The bright, fresh flavour of the citrus was great with the diminutive al dente cheese filled bundles of yummy. I had the Jerk Chicken Pita with mango salsa and garlic aioli, served with a Pear and Blue Cheese salad. The pita was the single biggest disappointment. It tasted fine, and would not have been so, had it been properly labeled: “Mango Chicken Wrap”. For the entire time I was eating it, all I could think was, “where’s the Jerk?” Two grinds of fresh pepper would have supplied more heat than was present. Even my wife, a woman who is (to put it nicely) a spice wimp, could eat this overly sweet pita without noticing any heat. On to the salad, anyone scared of blue cheese and interested in trying it should eat this salad. Relatively mild blue cheese paired with sweet pears and berry dressing, along with sliced almonds, would make it a wonderful introduction to the often scary world of blues.
Dessert was Ginger Crème Brule. The taste was great, not too much ginger (which, incidentally, has never been my favourite flavour.) Tragedy, it was not set. Having runny Crème Brule is akin opening socks for Christmas. No, it’s like opening a 42” Plasma TV box filled with two mismatched pairs of socks. Disheartening.
The service was, consistent with all our previous experience here, very slow. Though, they did pass the fork test, (brought me a new one after I used mine for the appetizers, dirty forks are like inedible garnish, a food-sin.) They were friendly and competent enough, just really, really slow. This applied for food, dessert, drinks, and refills.
My wife and I were able to finish all our courses (appetizers, two mains, and dessert.) This means that if you are a large and furiously hungry burly fellow, this may not be the place for you to dine. If you are looking for a nice meal, and not in a hurry then I definitely recommend Prairie Ink.
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*UPDATE: since this review I have been back or sent others here and all experiences where positive... with the exception my most recent visit. I have not made up my mind if I want to blog about it. I have reduced the score of the restaurant due to this meal. It was awful, gross, putrid, disgusting, incompetent crap. I was offended for having recommended a place that could serve such a disgusting meal. Clearly, unservable inedible food was still put on the plate and sent out to us rather than apologizing and doing it right. Nothing was done correctly. The poached eggs were hard with broken yokes and cold. The hollandaise was separated watery-oil, and tasted horrid. The potatoes were burnt. The crab cake burnt on the outside and raw in the middle. The service sucked and the coffee was at best, tepid. My wife's water glass had someone else's lip mark on it! The only thing that did not make me want to vomit was my wife's fruit salad. I am unsure whether I should now hate a place I once loved over one terrible experience, but it was so bad I'm having trouble forgiving them. No apology. No discount.*