Prairie Thunder: midtown’s own artisan bakery (and cafe)

by | March 17, 2010 | 19 Comments


Prairie Thunder

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1114 Classen Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK 73103

When reviewing a restaurant, I always try to go either really early for lunch or rather late in the hopes of being able to have a conversation with the owner when things aren’t quite as busy.  When Mom and I walked into Prairie Thunder, the owner John McBryde walked right out from the kitchen and asked what he could do for us.  What luck, I thought, as I began my interrogation.

First things first, of course. I must eat lunch and sample food before really getting down to business.  John’s friendly employees made some suggestions from the mostly soup, salad and sandwich menu. After standing over the bakery display for longer than needed, I finally went with the tomato-based chicken tortilla soup and veggie sandwich lunch combo ($8.25) which consisted of greens, red onions, ricotta cheese, roasted peppers, capers and homemade balsamic vinaigrette, served on their fabulous homemade bread.  Mom went with the special lunch quiche of the day ($5.75) which included a side salad.  The main thing she said made it so good was the ultra-thin, homemade crust, obviously not something frozen from a restaurant supply.  Each of our entrees also included a homemade roll.  John said they pride themselves in everything being homemade, from the salad dressing on up.  The bakery case was full of beautiful and delicious looking pastries and treats, many of them decorated and packaged for a quick gift for Valentine’s Day.

As soon as we were finished with our lunch, John said he would love to take us on a tour of the bakery behind the scenes.  We took him up on the offer and ended up spending over two hours learning the fascinating art of making and baking artisan bread.  The kitchen is divided into two large areas, one for bakery items and the other for bread.  Much of his equipment comes from Europe. The standing oven is so big, he can roll entire racks of bakery items into it.  After spending almost 30 years in the oil and gas business, John spent a year researching equipment and methods for bread baking.  According to him, if he was going to do this, he was going to do it right, and that drive is evident in the equipment he has in place.

Prairie Thunder has been open two years now, and business is great.  They do much of the bread baking and delivery to lots of locally-owned restaurants in the metro area.  There were several huge bread racks in the middle of the kitchen, and each shelf was labeled with the name of the restaurant they service.

It was quite warm in back, and soon I discovered why.  In the middle of the kitchen stands the Frigand bread oven, which hails from France.  There are only 150 of them in the U.S., and, of course, only one in Oklahoma.  It weighs 18,000 lbs, and is stacked with three decks and nine doors.  There is 150 square feet of baking space.  It arrived in a 53 foot semi truck and took three weeks of 12-hour days to assemble, with the help of a man from Austria.  It’s quite a site to behold, and even though it had been turned off for several hours, the heat still radiating from it made it feel like a summer day.  John said they recently celebrated the oven’s birthday by serving free mini-baguettes and cream puffs to customers.

The other side of the kitchen is where the bread is made, and it was stacked with huge sacks of King Arthur flour and crowded with enormous mixers from Germany.  Some of the breads take anywhere from 24-48 hours to make, so there are two overnight bakers who arrive at 10pm before John comes in at 5am.  Several other fancy machines that control temperature and humidity line the walls.  John’s tour was a fascinating education for me and certainly gave me a new appreciation for each delicious bite of bread I sampled that day.  It also said a lot for the cleanliness and neatness of the kitchen, as John had no idea I was coming when he invited me back for the tour.

John also designed the front part of the restaurant and did all of the woodwork himself.  He thought the name Prairie Thunder was quite appropriate for a restaurant with Oklahoma roots, and his dining room centers around a sign that reads, “Man, for all his progresses, posturings, and high-minded opinions of himself, owes his existence to a six-inch layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains.”  He said the flour he uses comes from both Oklahoma and Montana.  I just can’t say enough how delicious the bread is.

I think this a great little place for breakfast, lunch, or just for bread. It’s in a wonderful, historical building in the mid-town area.  I hope Prairie Thunder sticks around the OKC landscape for a long time.  It’s a great addition to our town and definitely unique.

What do you think about Prairie Thunder? Let us know in the comments.

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More Photos from Prairie Thunder Baking Company

Exterior of Prairie Thunder Baking Company in Oklahoma City

This article was posted by Sarah Sutton on Wednesday, March 17th, 2010. It is filed under:

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  • Cult of Nobody says:
    March 17th, 2010 at 10:29 pm   

    I ate some sort of blueberry dessert at Prairie Thunder after having a burger at Irma’s one day.

    I don’t remember what it was called but it was TASTY.

    Another good spot there on the Round-a-Bout is Brown’s Bakery…. Hands down the best blueberry cake donut I have ever eaten.

  • Pam says:
    March 18th, 2010 at 12:44 pm   

    For those who travel all over the country in search of the perfect loaf, you need go no further than Prairie Thunder. Their sourdough bread rivals any found in San Francisco, and their baguette has a crust that’s sheer perfection. A good friend from Enid travels to OK City every two weeks for special food items, and he’s insisted that Prairie Thunder be added to our other favorite “go to” destinations, Mediterranean Deli and the Super Cao Nguyen market. Pick up a loaf at this wonderful bakery–there are several different choices each day. You’ll see why the place deserves 5 stars!

  • Jenn Marshall says:
    March 19th, 2010 at 11:11 am   

    LOVE Prairie Thunder. Fun location! Great food! Their chicken salad is very yummy as are their carrot cake balls! Yum-o!

  • John says:
    March 24th, 2010 at 8:44 pm   

    Had the Italian sandwich and potatoe soup and it was very good, well worth the money. I will be going back to PT.

  • Lizzie Bliss Sheehan says:
    April 1st, 2010 at 7:50 am   

    Close your eyes.

    Now bite into a Prairie Thunder croissant.

    You have just traveled to Paris–minus the airfare and all those hours of airports and planes!

    The crossiants at Prairie Thunder are melt in your mouth superb! Must be a combination of the oven from France and all the training of those master bakers. What a treat, right here in Oklahoma City.

  • Kevin says:
    April 5th, 2010 at 4:53 pm   

    In a word -


  • Kerstin says:
    April 30th, 2010 at 2:19 pm   

    I absolutely love Prairie Thunder.
    Ever since it’s opening I have been constantly intrigued and inspired by the dedication to quality that both John McBryde and his whole staff show. Not only are all the breads from Prairie Thunder artisian and delicious, their pastry case and café menu are full of products that are shown just as much care and are equally as tasty. As John McBryde says, everything is homemade and it definately shows. If you haven’t gone yet, it’s a must.

  • Kaylee says:
    May 4th, 2010 at 10:10 am   

    I’m so glad you gave a review of this place. It is very close to my office and I never even knew it existed!

    I had the chicken panini and it was really yummy. It was kind of expensive for lunch (like $18 for my husband and I, both got sandwiches) but it was good.

    We also went on their 2nd birthday celebreation and they had free cookies. I will be going back!

  • Christina says:
    July 16th, 2010 at 8:56 pm   

    Their breads and pastries are really good. I haven’t been in a while because it negates the gym. They used to have scrubs day on Wednesday which was really cool, discounts for all medical field workers and I think they do it for the law field as well. I wish I could make it over there for lunch because the menu looks great.

    I had a really good egg, bacon and cheese croissant breakfast sandwich. It was heavy and I shouldn’t have finished it all but it was really good.

  • Hillary says:
    July 30th, 2010 at 3:43 pm   

    I LOVE PRAIRIE THUNDER! Everything I have tried is incredibly delicious. The cupcakes are some of the best in the city, the chicken salad is superb and oh, that italian sandwich. Now I just need to move closer to Midtown so I can have it every day!

  • Paula says:
    September 1st, 2010 at 4:10 pm   

    You can NOT beat the rolls. Salads are wonderful, the stuffed baguettes are excellent as well as the quiche AND I think they have the best pastries and baked goods anywhere in OKC.
    I will say one negative thing though – I eat there for lunch often since it’s so close to work and it never fails that the service at the cash register is consistently unfriendly. I don’t know what it is..maybe I come at a bad time.

  • Jillian says:
    September 8th, 2010 at 4:50 pm   

    I work in walking distance from Prairie Thunder… I’m over there a lot. :) I have NEVER been disappointed in anything. On Wednesdays, they have “scrub day” and give 30% discount to any medical personnel. Lunch is a little on the expensive side, but the portions are huge for me… I end up with several meals so it’s worth it. A couple of times I’ve been in there near end of business for them and they’ve given me free “old” bread since they just wanted to get rid of it; may be too “old” to sell but it’s always still delicious with dinner!

  • JuJu Beans says:
    September 9th, 2010 at 10:34 am   

    I LOVE PTBC! I think it’s the best bakery in Oklahoma hands down. I don’t necessarily go to the actual location, but whenever I am at Coffee Slingers I always either get the blueberry crumble bar (my favourite since it has copious amounts of blueberries!), blueberry cream cheese muffin, or their blueberry scone. I’m a blueberryaholic, haha! I have however been to the actual bakery once to see if they had the blueberry crumble bar but they were sold out and only had the apple crumble bar, and it was also very good!

  • Kathy says:
    September 10th, 2010 at 8:04 am   

    I need a blueberry scone, the best I’ve ever had. It melts in your mouth and the blueberries burst in your mouth! Might have to drive downtown and get one this morning!

  • wimpy says:
    January 2nd, 2011 at 7:34 pm   

    Sorry for taking so long to write a review Tim, and thanks very much for the $20 prize for Prairie Thunder ! My wife and I enjoyed a very good lunch the other day at this very busy place where our orders were promptly filled and very good, we had sandwiches and salads and were very pleased with the food and service, we will definately go back some time !

  • Tim says:
    January 3rd, 2011 at 6:44 am   

    Wimpy, you are welcome. Glad you got to try a new place and especially glad to hear you enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • matilda says:
    January 8th, 2011 at 2:26 pm   

    I had the chicken panini and found it on the bland side, I could barely even taste the pesto. I did like the rosemary on the outside of the bread, however. I also tried the chicken tortilla soup, I appreciated the tomato broth base but it seemed to be the only flavor the soup held. The chicken was perfectly tender, so many times in soup like this the chicken becomes quite tough. The roll that accompanied the soup was fantastic. All in all I would agree that it is a great bakery, however, menu items seem to be lacking.
    Maybe they should consider a service industry day, in this economy it seems people are forgetting that their waitstaff only make 2.15 an hour, we need all the help we can get!

  • Tucker’s Onion Burgers: simple and delicious | Oklahoma City Restaurants says:
    February 1st, 2012 at 7:34 am   

    [...] are cut thin and cooked on the meat to a good level. The buns are exceptional, sourced from the Prairie Thunder Baking Company and baked fresh especially for Tucker’s. I’ve heard some say the buns are a little too [...]

  • carla says:
    March 21st, 2013 at 1:44 pm   

    I was trying to see if y’all make thunder cakes if so can u please send me a email

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