Why: Prairie Bar & Grill is a family-owned and -operated establishment with a full bar, pool tables and live bands scheduled for most Friday and Saturday nights, but food has become the largest part of the business since 2000. Regular menu revisions keep favorites around while adding new selections for patrons to try.
Atmosphere: Though it has the look and feel of a bar, Prairie Bar and Grill has a family-friendly vibe before Happy Hour — which is 2 to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The space includes a bar flanked by several pool tables, a mix of tables and chairs and a few large-screen TVs providing entertainment.
What I tried: We began our dinner with the Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeños. I chose the Grilladas from the Something Different menu and my dining companion decided on the Malibu Burger, accompanied by the Soup of the Day. For dessert we shared a Hot Fudge Brownie.
The Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeños were the highlight of our meal. These were beautifully presented and drizzled with a sweet chili sauce and a ranch sauce. Each jalapeño was halved, filled with cream cheese and wrapped with a slender piece of lean bacon. Each was lightly browned on top. The combination of flavors was fabulous — the peppers were not excessively spicy and the saltiness of the bacon blended harmoniously with the sweet and gardeny sauces, the peppers and the cream cheese.
The Grilladas are flour tortillas, grilled with enchilada sauce and rolled up with Jack cheese, house-seasoned shredded pork loin, cilantro and black beans. They are then cut in half, crosswise, and topped with more cheese. Shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sliced olives and salsa and sour cream are served alongside. The pork loin had a mild flavor. It was also very lean. I couldn’t taste much of the enchilada sauce. The dish was like partially deconstructed burritos.
My dining companion’s Malibu Burger contained pineapple, ham and Swiss cheese, and she opted for chicken instead of beef. The burger was very tall and substantial enough to satisfy a hearty appetite. The accompanying soup — a simple mixture of beef, vegetables and grain in a thin broth — was good as well.
The Hot Fudge Brownie was served warm with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate chips on top. The dessert was rich, and the brownie’s gooey soft texture contrasted well with the harder chocolate chips.
Menu highlights beyond what I tried: The Breakfast Pizza sounds delicious. The house-seasoned pork loin, which is a new ingredient at Prairie Bar & Grill, is available in several menu selections, including a Pulled Pork Sandwich and a Quesadilla. The Gravy Train Burger, made with grilled onions, mushrooms and Swiss cheese and topped with brown gravy and fried onions, sounded messy and intriguing. Prime Rib is now on the menu, and if you can’t wait until fair time, Deep-Fried Twinkies are available as well.
Other observations: Although it was fairly busy on the evening of my visit, the wait time for our order to arrive was longer than we had expected.
Some selections are served on paper plates.
The service was courteous and friendly.
Cost: A wide range of starters are priced from $3.99 up to $11.99. Quesadillas are $9.99. Burgers are $4.79 to $11.99. Sandwiches are $4.99 to $9.59. Salads start at $1.99 for a small dinner salad and top out at $9.59 for the BBQ Chicken. Sliders come in threes and cost $7.50. Pizzas come in three different sizes and range from $9.99 to $28.99.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Sunday.
Where: 14295 N.E. Caples Road, Brush Prairie, http://prairiebarandgrill.com.
Health score: Prairie Bar & Grill received a score of perfect score of zero on Jan. 25. Clark County Public Health closes restaurants that score 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.