If you’ve ever used the words “carbohydrate” or “carb” in the pejorative, you can stop reading right now. (I mean, you all can
stop reading right now, if you choose. I wouldn’t recommend it.) Adherents to the Atkins Diet beware: It’s about to get very hard for you to continue.
Prairie Thunder Baking Company is a bakery and restaurant that revels in carbs. It celebrates the carb. Imagine Scrooge McDuck swimming through his vault full of gold coins. That is the same love and appreciation with which Prairie Thunder treats carbohydrates.
It would be reductive to say that Prairie Thunder is all about the bread, but it’s still pretty accurate.
“It all starts with the bread,” said owner John McBryde. “We’re a working bakery, which means we’re not just producing bread for in-house use, but for several restaurants.”
Most of you won’t be taking a tour of the back. Most of you are stopping in for a loaf of bread, a sweet treat or a meal. And to you I say: Get the croissant.
“A croissant? I can buy two dozen of those at Sam’s. They ain’t so special,” you might say, if you were a moron.
Prairie Thunder creates real croissants — layers and layers of buttery dough, folded and pressed again and again until they are paper thin. They put most store-bought versions to shame. The key is time and know-how. You cannot rush a croissant. You cannot skip steps, not if you want it to become something special.
They say man cannot live by bread alone. I would like to test that, frankly, but if you’ve already bought into the hype, there is the breakfast croissant sandwich ($6.50). The same buttery, flaky pastry is slit down the middle to make room for scrambled eggs, cheese and your choice of sausage, ham or bacon. It sounds like a lot of other breakfast sandwiches and it would be, except you’ve got a real Prairie Thunder croissant instead of some fast-food English muffin.
Or, if you’re a vegetarian, try the even more decadent pain au chocolat ($1.95). It’s a croissant stuffed with chocolate ganache. If you’re having trouble imagining eating anything else ever, then you and I are of like minds.
After a recent menu refresh, Prairie Thunder offers more options every day. French toast ($4.95). Biscuits and gravy ($4.50). A choose-your-own-adventure omelet ($4.50).
But the addition that has me the happiest is the veggie burger ($6.95). Listen, I’m a guy who enjoys meat more than I probably should. A big, greasy beef burger with bacon on it? Sign me up. And while Prairie Thunder’s burger isn’t greasy, it sure is tasty.
Obviously you get the great bun, made in-house, but they also have a patty that is a bit like a grilled falafel — tender, flavorful and satisfying. Is it healthy? I have no idea. I just like the way it tastes.
McBryde said he’s refocused the kitchen staff on creating more daily specials that incorporate their breads (i.e., more sandwiches, fewer wraps), and they’ve actually altered the shape of some of their loaves for that purpose.
when you’re all done with your stuffed baguette or bowl of soup,
there’s a dessert counter that I would clean out like a burglar in a
jewelry store, given the chance. Cake pops ($1.65). Cookies and pastries
($1.95, varies). Or try some of the seasonal pumpkin pie ($3.95). Order
ahead (at least 48 hours) if you want a whole pie ($18-$25).
you leave Prairie Thunder Baking Company without on a smile on your
face, you probably had to work at it. Either that or you’re on a
low-carb diet and all those delicious baked goods have you reconsidering
your life choices.
Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive
aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or
service when appropriate.