Poppy Laking saddles up for some good ole’ Kansas City BBQ at newly opened Prairie Fire.
It’s a cold and damp night in January, I’m in the mood for comfort food and I’ve come to White City to get it.
Nestled under a series of railway arches, within spitting distance of Westfield shopping centre on one side and the imposing and iconic BBC Television Studios on the other, sits Prairie Fire.
It’s a low-key and low-fi restaurant bringing good old home cooking from one the biggest exponents of barbecue in the United States, Kansas City.
Those in the know pronounce Kansas City as the home of the best barbecue in all of the US, and although stalwarts Texas and North Carolina may come close for lovers of meat smoked low and slow, KC as it’s known boasts a secret weapon that the others can’t match: a unique history of home made, sweet and sometimes sticky barbecue sauce.
As the owner of Prairie Fire, Michael Gratz tells us, everybody back home has their own recipe, and with around one hundred barbecue joints in the Kansas City metropolitan area alone, it’s clear there is real passion and pride for it.
Indeed, Michael’s eyes light up when he tells us about his spin on the sauce, the difference between the two sauces on every table tonight, one is on the more sweet and gentle side and the other with a kick of heat that creeps up on you.
Taking a look at the menu we’d heard enough, somewhere between the rich and smoky smells coming from the kitchen and Michael’s verbal tour of Kansas City, we’d crossed from hungry to ravenous and made our orders.
A simple menu that speaks to the relaxed streetfood vibe of the restaurant, there are of course burgers, beef hotdogs, BBQ sandwiches, and a variety of chicken wings (including jackfruit wings for all you vegetarians out there,) plus soft shell tacos and Americana staples like tator tots and a chipotle ranch pasta salad.
Diving straight in, we started with the Meat Sampler, a deeply indulgent greatest hits starter/sharer comprising of brisket, soft and succulent pork slices, spicy sausage and a tangy chunky slaw.
Going between the two barbecue sauces (and double dipping to the chagrin of my companion for the evening), the meat was tender and flavourful but brought to life by Michael’s homemade sauces.
On to mains, and on to two hefty and downright delicious burgers made with Prairie Fire’s signature bespoke beef blend made up of 40 day dry aged rib cap, chuck steak and brisket, served on toasted potato flour buns.
Opting for the BBQ burger (served with mouthwatering pulled pork or brisket on request) and classic American cheese.
It delivered on every level, a delicious combination of beef and pork, pulled together perfectly by the underlying sweetness of the sauce which complemented both without being overwhelming, a sentiment shared by my companion who isn’t usually into barbecue sauce but found Michael’s blend too good to resist.
If that didn’t get your tastebuds salivating and your City Mapper whirring to find the quickest way to Prairie Fire, a immensely delicious and relaxed-fit restaurant perfect for cheat days and catching up with friends over no frills comfort food, then Stop. Right. There.
For the first time in fifty years, the Kansas City Chiefs are headed to the Superbowl, and on Sunday 2nd February, Prairie Fire is hosting an early-hours party to cheer on superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes & Co .
Prices start from £10, which includes entry and a beer, or £25 for a gut busting tailgate tastebud tickler, chock full of chips n’ dips and wings, making this weekend the perfect time for your first visit.
After you’ve tried the best barbecue sauce in London, it won’t be your last.