Former Delfina chef Anthony Strong’s first solo project, Prairie, officially opened its doors in the Mission this month, fusing his Italian expertise with Asian-inspired flavors. After 11 years of national acclaim at Delfina, Strong is branching out from his European roots, creating new dishes that are inspired by ingredients from Japan, Korea and China.
The meal begins with a checkbox, rather than a traditional menu. Dim-sum enthusiasts will already be familiar with the format: Simply put a check next to the dishes you're interested in and stand it at the end of your table when you're ready to order. It makes for a more seamless dining experience, but staff are always nearby if you have any questions.
One word of advice when ordering: Don't overlook the starters. The mochi, wrapped in guanciale and served inside a radicchio leaf drizzled in aged balsamic, is a true scene-stealer. As is the pane distrutto, a huge chunk of olive oil-toasted bread soaked in Early Girl farm’s tomato juices. Finally, the "Deluxe” burrata is like a creamy onion dip, but better, so much better.
Inside the kitchen, you'll find a Josper charcoal grill from Spain and a J&R Woodshow Broiler from Texas, imparting smoke, char and depth to main dishes like marrow bones and grilled octopus and eggplant. Strong is also one of the few in possession of one of Elon Musk’s much buzzed-about new flamethrowers, which you can see in the kitchen.
As for drinks, start with a simple, carbonated highball. Prairie is the proud owner of a Suntory Toki highball machine, rarely seen outside Japan, lauded for making a perfectly blended, über-fizzy, ice-cold concoction that goes down more like a beer or a glass of Champagne than a mixed drink. Cocktail standouts include the Becky with the Good Hair, a gin cocktail made with lime and a turmeric, sea buckthorn shrub. Those interested in alternatives, can choose from an Italian-centric wine list or go for a Japanese bottled beer.
Prairie is open Tue-Thu 5:30-10pm, Fri-Sat 5:30-11pm, and Sun 5:30-10pm at 3431 19th Street.