BROOKLINE – Everyone knows that with fire comes flavor, and they are serving all that wood fired flavor and more at Prairie Fire in Brookline.
“When you walk through the door of the restaurant, there’s a beautiful, slightly smoky wood aroma that you know there’s a wood-fired oven,” said restauranteur Dan Kerrigan.
Located in Coolidge Corner, Prairie Fire is the latest spot from Kerrigan, who has created a sexy spot complete with dim lighting, big windows and a wood burning oven situated behind the bar. That is where you can find Executive Chef Brendan Joy and his team.
“I’ve always had a passion for cooking with a natural heat source,” he said. “We use oak and maple kiln-dried wood in this oven. It definitely brings some smokiness to it, a little different layer of texture, different flavor profiles.”
“We have the ability to control temperature a little bit better and really keep that oven running at a very high temperature. I think that that is one of the reasons that the products that are coming out of there are truly special,” Dan added.
So Phantom took a seat by the fire in search of the Perfect Meal.
Appetizers at Prairie Fire as both creative and comforting. There is Fluke Crudo topped with watermelon radish in a cherry agrodolce, and Oysters bathed in scampi butter with garlic bread crumbs that get additional flavor from that wood burning oven.
“It’s just a spectacular different take on an oyster,” Dan said. “Beautiful warmed oyster in the hot oven, bubbling scampi butter on top, with crispy bread crumbs. It’s an absolutely delicious dish.”
The best way to get your meal going is with an order of the Chicken and Pork Meatballs.
“They’re very soft, with a nice level of char on the outside in a beautiful, traditional sauce,” Dan described. “They’re medium sized meatballs in a piping hot cast-iron dish. It’s just one of many items on the menu that are perfect for passing around the table.”
Another option for sharing at Prairie Fire is the Neapolitan style pizzas. Each one of these pristine pies is made using sourdough, something Chef Brendan feels strongly about.
“Sourdough brings some nice acidity notes to the crust. It lightens the dough up a lot. We do like a little bit of char on the outside on the crust. That brings in some nice smoky notes, as well as some charred and grill notes that you would get in a wood-fired oven.”
There is the simple but sensational margherita.
“We puree great San Marzano tomatoes with basil, olive oil, salt, and pepper. The mozzarella is a fresh buffalo mozzarella, and it just gets finished with fresh grated Parmesan and basil leaves,” Chef described.
You could opt for a pizza with toppings, like their perfectly blistered specimen topped with a mushroom bechemel, kale, roasted leeks and fontina; or the Fennel Sausage, Dan’s personal favorite.
“The thing about that pizza that’s my favorite is the house-made fennel sausage itself. Beautiful chunks of fennel sausage that get roasted in the oven, so they’re just crackling and crispy as they come out. It’s beautiful.”
Just as outstanding are Prairie Fire’s pastas. There is Lemon Gemelli tossed in an arugula pesto with macadamia nuts, Squid Ink Campanelle in a fiery lobster arrabiata, and the top crowd favorite – the Cocoa Fusilli in Duck Ragu.
“It’s a very comforting dish,” Chef Brendan said. “When people sit down, they’re a little bit surprised that this is almost chocolate pasta. But after they eat it, they’re really happy about it.”
If the chocolate pasta isn’t sweet enough for you, you can opt for desserts like the Chocolate Pudding Oreo Cookie, or Apple Fritters served with a gingersnap ricotta.
“They’re very light. You could eat them all yourself and not know you just ate the entire dish,” Chef said. “Finished with a cider vinegar caramel and some gingersnap ricotta. It’s probably the best donut you’ve ever had.”
Chicken and Pork Meatballs, Fennel Sausage Pizza, Cocoa Fusilli, and Apple Fritters make for the Perfect Meal at Prairie Fire.
You can find Prairie Fire at 242 Harvard Street in Brookline, and online at prairiefirebrookline.com.
Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.