Restaurants Reviews and Such

Prairie Ink Restaurant McNally Robinson Booksellers

Prairie Ink Restaurant is the located inside the Grant Park location of McNally Robinson Booksellers. McNally is my new books, bookstore of choice. If you read any of my book reviews, the links to the books in them are usually links to McNally. For used books, I generally visit Bison Books.

Prairie Ink Cafe Latte.
Lunchtime latte from Prairie Ink.

Prairie Ink falls into that category of: Restaurant I’ve visited many times, but never got around to writing about. In the good old Pre-Covid days, I went a few times to hear the Bob Watts trio, a group that regularly performed there.

There are a wide variety of seating options at Prairie Ink. Including a number of two-seater tables, making it easier to get a seat for those of us who dine alone. They also operate a patio during the warmer weather. 

Prairie Ink Restaurant: Reading and Repasts

I know some people think that books and food don’t make for a good combination. I on the other hand, really enjoy getting a new book and sitting down to read it, while enjoying a meal.

My first visit recorded here, came the day I picked up the latest Bruno: Chief of Police novel. Anxious to get started on the novel, I took my purchase(any books taken into the café must be paid for in advance), and sat down to enjoy a meal and to make a good start on the novel.

The coldest case
Bruno’s adventures in The Coldest Case were my companions at mealtime.

Prairie Ink’s menu features a wide variety of soups, salads, sandwiches, etc. All of these are made from scratch. They also make focus on local ingredients in their dishes.

Prairie Ink soup and sandwich
A Reuben Sandwich and West African Peanut Soup.

I ordered a soup and sandwich combination, along with a salad. The sandwich was a Reuben. The soup was their specialty: African Peanut Soup, and a House Salad. As it was a lingering kind of meal, I added an Apple Crisp for dessert, and a beer for beverage.

a house salad.
The Prairie Ink House Salad.

The sandwich was well presented, with a good mixture of cabbage, corned beef, and sauerkraut. The house Thousand Islands dressings works well with all the other ingredients. Adding the salad gave a bit of crunch to the meal. As always, the West African Peanut Soup was delicious. That’s an item I’ve order multiple times.

An apple crumble with a crust.
The crumble comes with a crust. Unexpected, but very tasty.

I was surprised when my Apple Crumble came, that it was baked in a tart shell. I always think of it as a dish served in a bowl, with no bottom crust. The crust, like the rest of the crumble is very delicious. I would eat this crumble on a daily basis. 

Christmas Shopping Lunch

Some people like to leave their Christmas shopping until the last minute. Not me, I was out in the stores on the 23rd. I started off at Preserve, and then headed up to Grant Park.

It was actually at McNally’s that I bought the gift for my 3-month old grand-niece(I forgot to take a picture of the toy owl). Having completed all my shopping I decided I would have lunch and then head down to work.

When I got to Prairie Ink, I was told they were short staffed, and that service might be slightly delayed. All that meant was that my lunch was a little more relaxed then it might have been. It helped that the staff were looking out for all tables, not just their own.

St. Boniface Tourtiere
Tourtiere, Fries, and Gravy from Prairie Ink.

This time I decided on a seasonal dish, and ordered their St. Boniface Tourtiere. This came with a side of fries. I also ordered a Cinnamon Bun, and a Latte for my beverage.

The Tourtiere was excellent. The way the pastry was made up reminded me of Swanson’s frozen pie. The difference of course, being that this is a first rate pie, whereas the Swanson variety is barely edible. 

I really liked the spicing in the pie. All the different spices blend together without any or all of them being overpowering. I also found the meat pie good and moist. That meant I could use my gravy for dipping my fries.

Prairie Ink Cinnamon Bun
Toasted Cinnamon Bun to finish of my Prairie Ink lunch.

Another noteworthy thing about the service. When I ordered the Cinnamon Bun, they asked me if I wanted it before, with, or after the main meal. I said after, and although the person I told that too was different than the person who served me, my server knew to bring me the bun, right after clearing off my main course. 

One thing I’ve noticed over the years, is that Prairie Ink is often very full and busy. I imagine with Covid restrictions that is even more true. I would suggest making a visit during off-peak hours. That would be the best way to get a table(reservations are currently closed).

Lunchtime latte from Prairie Ink.

I don’t get to Grant Park as often as I would like. However, Prairie Ink is always a great place to visit anytime you get the chance. If you are unable to dine, grab some of their pastries to go. 

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By Donald McKenzie

Anglican priest, and food blogger. This blog is focused on Food. It will feature reviews of places to eat books, and the odd recipe. I also write about what it means to gather together around food.