Prairie Ink: Warming Winter Soups
Prairie Ink Restaurant & Bakery at McNally Robinson Booksellers
Address: 1120 Grant Avenue (inside Grant Park Shopping Centre)
Phone number: 975-2659
Neighbourhood: River Heights
I refuse to complain about winter anymore. It's been very long and very cold. And that about sums it up.
Spring with soon be here, but in the meantime, I've adopted a new strategy: Soup.
Just lately, I've been on a French Onion soup kick. It's winter food. It's cozy and comforting. It's loaded with melted cheese. And it's filling and fantastic when the kitchen gets it right.
At Prairie Ink Restaurant (inside McNally Robinson Booksellers), they get it right. On a spontaneous visit recently, I tucked into a delicious crock of the traditional warming soup.
While a canopy of cheese can pretty much mask the worst of mistakes or misfires, at Prairie Ink, there's no cover-up needed. The beef-based broth is herb-infused, dense, full-flavoured and loaded with caramelized onions. If there was a splash of red wine in the sauce, it was undetectable. (I love a splash of red in my French Onion, but no need to hit me over the head with it, I say.)
Tucking into a bowl of French Onion is a bit of a treasure hunt too. I love trying to load every spoonful with all the elements: broth, onions, bread and cheese. And if fingers are required to pinch off a tight wire of melted cheese strung from crock to spoon then so be it. You'll also need those fingers to pick off the crusty bits of melted cheese clinging to the rim and sides of the bowl. (Clearly I've been thinking way too much about my soup eating style and technique. That may be a symptom of cabin fever.)
My table mate, meanwhile, used a fork and spoon to tackle his seafood chowder. Calling his dish of juicy mussels, monster-sized prawns and a filet of grilled salmon a 'chowder' is a bit of a misnomer.
It's a meal. It's made to order. It's a fantastic version of an East Coast staple. And it was very pretty, too.
This creamy dish was loaded with masterfully prepared seafood. Not a single bite or spoonful was left in either dish.
We left feeling full, warmed from the inside out and completely sated. And winter was kept at bay for a time.
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