Monthly Archives: August 2010

Very sneaky, Starbucks

HOThe other day I was driving home when I noticed something peculiar: A highway sign informing me that I could find a Starbucks if I exited Kellogg at Seneca Street.

Huh? I exit Seneca Street every day, and if there were a Starbucks nearby, believe me, I’d know.

Then it hit me. Yes, there is a Starbucks off the Seneca exit, but it’s two miles and a whole bunch of stoplights to the south, past Pawnee.

I do not like deceptive highway exit signs. If you tell me to exit for Starbucks, I expect it to be right off the exit. Not a five-plus minute drive away. This is especially bizarre considering the fact that just exits later at West street, a westbound Kellogg driver can find a Starbucks immediately off the highway

When reporting on Starbucks’ new breakfast sandwiches last week, I was told by a manager that the stores at Seneca and Pawnee and at 21st and Amidon would be the only two not participating because they were the lowest performing stores. Perhaps that explains all of this, especially considering that an exit sign at K-96 and Meridian directs exiters to the 21st and Amidon store, also several miles and stoplights away.

Now that my complaining is over, a little Starbucks good news to report: PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE IS BACK AS OF TODAY!!!

Krispy Kreme cheeseburgers

krispykremecheeseburgerIf I hadn’t heard it directly from Kansas State Fair manager Denny Stoecklein, I might not believe it.

The novelty food at this year’s fair: Krispy Kreme cheeseburgers.

Actually, I probably would believe it, even if Denny hadn’t told me. After all, I am the girl who has over the years sampled such state fair delicacies as deep-fried Coke, deep-fried Oreos, deep-fried Twinkies and alligator on a stick.

I don’t have details about this concoction yet, but its ridiculous awesomeness seems pretty self explanatory.

The Kansas State Fair runs  Sept. 10-19 in Hutchinson.

Iron Chef Wichita

Iron Chef David Wirebaugh from Harvest Kitchen/Bar.

Iron Chef David Wirebaugh from Harvest Kitchen/Bar.

The Old Town Farmers Market will be the site on Saturday of the 8th annual Iron Chef Competition, which pits local chefs against each other in a live, action-packed, mystery ingredient-filled competition.

This year’s competitors are Chef David Wirebaugh, the head chef at the Hyatt’s Harvest Kitchen/Bar; local caterer and chef-about-town Jeremy Wade, The Anchor’s Ben George, and last year’s champ, area chef Terry Johnson.

A “secret ingredient” will be revealed at 8:30 a.m. (last year’s was onions), and the chefs will have until 9:45 a.m. to shop the Farmers Market for ingredients and create a dish. Judges are Guy and Beth Bower and Sierra Scott.

The Old Town Farmers Market takes place from 7 a.m. to noon at First and Mosley streets in Old Town.

The absolute biggest cheese

biggestcheeseIt used to be an, ahem, gentleman’s club. But now the little brick building at the corner of Maple and Seneca is home to a new pizzeria — The Biggest Cheese Pizza — a business owned by Jack Robinson and Alma Mosqueda.

The couple first opened the business in a tiny spot near 235 & Seneca about seven months ago but recently moved to the bigger, more centrally located building.

They offer a daily pizza buffet for $4.99 and sell large, one-topping 16-inch pizzas for $12. The interior still feels a little bit like an, ahem, gentleman’s club — cavernous and windowless, but Robinson is doing what he can to get the business going, including offering delivery throughout the entire city. There is a delivery charge, however, which varies with the distance he has to drive.

Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10:30 a.m. to 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays.

Sampling steak, burgers and ostrich

Satchel Creek Steaks, a retail all-natural meat shop in Cambridge Market at 21st and Webb and, is putting on its second annual Satchel Creek Summer Sampler from 10 to 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Those who stop by will be treated to free burgers and samples of, among other things, ostrich. From4 to 6:30 p.m., the store will give samples of Imperial Wagyu Kobe beef from Nebraska.

Other stores in the center also are participating, including Cinnamon’s Deli, which will distribute soup samples. Last year’s even drew 4o0 people, and Satchel Creek owners are hoping to double that this year.

The event also will feature live music from 5 to 7 p.m. Admission is free.

Tacos, fish and Indian


Mmmmm. Indian taco.

Sure, you could go to a Mexican restaurant for your lunchtime taco fix. But that’s not the only place to get delicious tacos in Wichita.

Two non-restaurants also serve interesting tacos on select days during the week.

One is the Mid-America All Indian Center, which cooks up its famous Indian tacos — traditional taco fillings piled high on fried flat bread — from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays. The tacos cost $6 apiece, but they’re huge, and one is more than enough for one person. Call in orders can be placed at 316-350-3346.

Another non-traditional taco purveyor is The Seafood Shop, a retail fish market at 6470 E. Central. The shop serves to-go lunches from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays, and many times, fish tacos are on the menu. (The Seafood Shop’s Friday menu always appears on page 2A of the Wichita Eagle.)  Today, diners can get three flour tortillas, an 8 oz. container of sauteed fish and spicy slaw for $7. Call an order in at 316-425-8862.

Restaurant confession

I'm so ashamed.

Needed: Chopsticks lessons.

I have a restaurant confession to make, and I’m so ashamed.

I can’t use chopsticks. Can’t do it. I’ve tried for years, and no matter who tries to teach me or how much I practice, I fumble it all up, send the sticks flying, embarrass myself and delay the transportation of sushi to mouth way longer than it needs to be delayed. Grrrr.chopstix

Today, I had lunch at Sumo with Carrie and one of her influential restaurant  sources and was humiliated when I had to ask for a fork.

I blame it on being a lefty.

But there is a bright side. My sushi lunch included this amazing special, called the Viva Vegas roll, which featured a crunchy tempura coating and amazing presentation. With the aid of my fork (or Knork, in this case), I was able to grab it up much faster than my chopsticked companions.

Small victories.

New restaurant roundup


If you are among the zillions of Carrie Rengers’ Have You Heard devotees, you already know everything I’m about to tell you. But it never hurts to talk about my favorite topic — NEW RESTAURANTS — as often as possible.

We’ve recently reported about several restaurants planned for Wichita. Among them:

Newport Grill: I’m most excited about a new seafood restaurant that will open in November in the former Cibola Space in Bradley Fair. Newport Grill is a new concept by PB&J Restaurants, the same Kansas City-based company that owns Yia Yia’s Eurobistro in Bradley Fair. The restaurant will fly in fresh fish six days a week and will offer a menu full of gourmet fish and non-fish dishes.

T.J.’s east: The owner of Delano’s popular T.J.’s Burger House at 1003 W. Douglas has plans to open an east-side location. It should open in late September near Harry and Webb, behind Felipe’s Mexican Restaurant.

Cafe 151: Ben Arnold, whose Corporate Caterers empire just keeps growing and growing, announced this week that he’ll take over the restaurant space at Cargill’s Wichita headquarters that Piccadilly Express just vacated. It’ll open in November or December and will serve breakfast and lunch.

Food worth driving for: Part II

watermarkgenos.jpg 003I’ve finally written my second installment in the two-part “Food Worth Driving For” series. (It was delayed a couple of weeks by my last-minute need to write about Taste of Wichita.)

Part II contains several interesting spots, including Geno’s BarB-Q, a restaurant built in a tiny, adorable little house that’s filled with antiques and the smell of smoky meats. Owned by Gene and Betty Washington, it has been open 16 years but only opens its doors on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The story will be sent out in my Dining with Denise newsletter this afternoon and will be published in the Go! section in Friday’s paper.

You also can re-read Part I if you so desire.

Never too soon for pumpkin pancakes

pumpkinpancakesThis glorious, fall-like morning has me thinking about one of my favorite fall-like treats: PUMPKIN PANCAKES at IHOP.

I’m not normally huge on IHOP, but those once-a-year-pancakes make the eternal lines and other I-indignities worth it. Don’t they?

The pancakes won’t be available till October, which is still an excruciating one month and one week away, but the IHOP publicity department was kind enough to send out tips for making the pancakes at home.

They won’t share the secret recipe, mind you, but using the following guide, you can create a suitable imitation to get you through the wait.


  • The batter – Start with your favorite pancake batter recipe and simply add canned pumpkin pie mix.
  • Water temperature – When preparing dry pancake mix, it is essential that the water is chilled to less than 50 degrees.  Use ice to bring the temperature of the water down.
  • Lumps are good – Do not over mix the pancake batter.  Small lumps of flour are what make pancakes tall and fluffy.
  • Grill temperature – Use a 350-degree grill and make sure there are no hot or cold spots that can affect cooking time.
  • Cook time – The appearance is how you judge when a pancake is ready. When dropping the pancake batter, watch for bubbles to form and for the batter to have a dull appearance.  This takes approximately 2.5 minutes.  After flipping, cook approximately 2 minutes.
  • Topping IHOP tops its pumpkin pancakes with creamy whipped topping.