What: The first permanent residence for Kansas City-style barbecue brand Prairie Fire, which previously operated as a street food trader at markets and festivals across London.
Who: Prairie Fire is the brainchild of Kansas City native Michael Gratz, who moved to the capital in 2012. Previously a chef in the US, Gratz started out cooking in one of the Olympic event kitchens, before moving on to create his own concept. Enamoured with the iconic barbecue style of his hometown, Gratz launched Prairie Fire the following year as a street food trader serving burnt end sandwiches to businessmen on their lunch break. The brand subsequently established various pop up outposts across the capital, including at Mercato Metropolitano, and more recently London Fields Brewery.
The food: As both founder and pit master at Prairie Fire, Gratz adheres to the ‘low and slow’ cooking style that’s synonymous with Kansas City barbecue. Chicken thighs are rubbed and smoked over applewood; USDA Black Angus brisket is done over oak for 16 hours; and, like the chicken pork is cooked over applewood, this time for a minimum of 14 hours. The Prairie Fire menu primarily offers these meats through a variety of affordably priced, no-frills sandwich options. The KC Classic features a loaded brisket bun topped with house-made barbecue sauce (£9.50); the pulled pork sandwich is served simply with coleslaw (£7); and the Ranch Chicken features smoked thigh meat with salad, onions, pickled jalapeños and chipotle dressing (£8). A meat sampler, featuring slices of brisket with pulled pork, spicy sausage, coleslaw and barbecue sauce, is available as a starter (£12.50). The menu also includes a selection of burgers (ranging from £9 to £10.50); and BBQ tacos that can be custom made to order (£8 for three). Sides are mostly limited to fries, tater tots and onion rings (£3 to £5.50), but do also include a pasta salad served with chipotle ranch dressing (£4.50).
The drink: As well as a vast selection of sandwiches and burgers, Prairie Fire also serves an extensive range of beers on tap. Gratz tells BigHospitality that he’s decided to not establish any long-term supply contracts with brewers, in order to ensure a constantly rotating selection of lagers and ales. At the time of writing notable labels on the menu include a Siren breakfast stout; a Signature Brew coffee porter; and fruity pale ale from the Wild Beer Company. All are served as pints, with half and two-third measurements also available.
The vibe: Gratz has taken some inspiration from American diner culture for the interior design of the 75-cover restaurant, which is housed within Transport For London’s Wood Lane railway arches development. The look sees exposed brick offset by Midwestern steel, industrial lighting fixtures, and retro Americana diner stools. The restaurant also has terrace area overlooking Westfield, that holds a further 30 covers.
And another thing: Though the menu is predominately meat based, it does feature a few vegan options courtesy of Biff’s Jack Shack. These include jackfruit wings available with a range of sauces and dips (£9); and a crispy jackfruit burger served with salad, an onion ring, pickled jalapeños and barbecue sauce, in a beetroot bun (£9.75).
Arch 88-89, Wood Lane Arches, London W12 7LH