Monthly Archives: August 2010

Which Wichita restaurant qualifies?

I got an e-mail last week from a publicist asking for help.

He works for a Philadelphia production company hired by a cable network (which, he can’t say), and he’s casting for a new show in which a celebrity chef would help a struggling restaurant  that needs a boost.

The restaurant should be in danger of closing and be in desperate need of customers, good reviews and revenue. (Hmmm. That describes just about every restaurant I’ve ever covered.)

“The restaurant’s owners and management will be taking guidance from a celebrity chef and must be willing to overhaul their menu, décor and theme to put them back on the path to success,” the release said. ” Being family run is definitely a plus.  Restaurant owners must have strong, outgoing personalities.”

I’ve been trying to think of a restaurant in Wichita that fits this bill, and I have a few in mind. But I’d like to hear what you think. I plan to write this man back, but I want to give him the best possible candidates.

Post your ideas below.

Wine and dine

oenoIt’s my job to keep you updated about approaching wine dinners, and I take that job very seriously.

Two worth checking out are coming up over the next seven days.

The first is Saturday at Oeno Wine Bar, 330 N. Mead. The dinner is called Savor the Summer and will feature a five-course dinner, each course paired with a corresponding wine. (Pork scaloppine over fettucine is among the entrees on the menu.) The cost is $40 a person, and it starts at 7 p.m. Call 316-440-5000 for a reservation.

Then, on Aug. 31 (next Tuesday) Yia Yia’s is putting on a Spanish wine dinner that’s $65 a person and will feature five courses and five wines. It starts at 6:30 p.m. and will include dishes such as wood oven roasted quail. Call 316-634-1000 for reservations.

My work here is done.

Sunday brunch, only on Saturday

Wichitans love buffets, particularly on Sundays, when they flock to local eateries for huge spreads of eggs, potatoes, waffles, fruit, prime rib and more.

A couple of smart restaurateurs have recently realized that the Sunday Brunch formula might translate to Saturdays as well.

Starting on Sept. 4, Piccadilly Grill at 7728 E. Central Avenue will begin offering a Saturday morning brunch buffet in addition to its existing Sunday buffet. It’ll be offered from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. include made-to-order omelets, eggs Benedict, scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy  plus panini sandwiches, wraps, salads and soups. It’ll be $9.95 for adults, $8.95 for seniors and  $5.95 for children 6 to 12. (Kids 5 and under eat free.)

Granite City restaurants in Wichita also offer a brunch buffet on Saturdays, though it’s a little smaller and a little less expensive than its whizz-bang Sunday spread. It’s offered from 9 a.m. to noon and includes an omelet station, homeade cinnamon rolls, eggs, sausage, potatoes and other breakfast fare. It’s $9.99 for adults, $5.99 for ages 6 to 12 and free for ages 5 and under. Granite City has restaurants at 2244 N. Webb Road and 2661 N. Maize Road.

Watermark: Flippin’ out

watermarkgenos.jpg 011If you’re the lucky type, you can get free coffee every morning from 7 to 9 a.m. at Watermark Books, 4701 E. Douglas.

The store’s cute cafe, which serves breakfast and lunch, allows customers to flip a coin, call it in the air, and get their coffee (brewed only, not the fancy drinks) for free if they call it correctly. It’s a promo the cafe has done for years and that its customers love.

Watermark also has recently introduced a frequent buyer card, which allows regular customers to accumulate points with every purchase then recive a 25 percent off coupon in the mail.

The cafe also offers free samples of a sweet treat from its cookbook of the month every Thursday. The samples generally are available over the lunch hour.

For more information, call 316-682-1181.

Chile fest

images-2This weekend is the annual Chile Fest at Johnson’s Garden Center, an important day for fans of roasted peppers. All the store’s locations will be roasting, selling and offering samples of roasted Hatch green chiles, while supplies last.

And on Saturday, the stores will offer ideas about what to do with the chiles, too.  At 10 a.m. Saturday morning at the store at 802 N. Ridge Road, local foodie Joe Stumpe will be offering a seminar on traditional cooking with green chiles. And at the store at 21st and Woodlawn, Guy Bower will offer a 2 p.m. seminar on “Wine, Beer and Green Chile.”

For more details, click on “Read More” to see the ad scheduled for tomorrow’s paper. Read More »

Happy hour at Harvest

Harvest_jWichita has some great hotel restaurants, and it’s always aggravated me that I don’t think to go to them. One of those great restaurants is Harvest Kitchen/Bar inside the Hyatt, downtown at 400 W. Waterman. Now, the restaurant has come up with a new way to help remind patrons that it’s there: Free food!

Well, sorta. From 5 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, Harvest is offering a daily themed buffet that patrons can enjoy for free with the purchase of an alcoholic beverage. Mondays are Cajun night, for example, and Thursdays are Mexican night. Tonight’s Pacific Rim Friday buffet will feature Thai coconut and red curry chicken skewers, pork egg rolls and a sushi roll of the day. Sappro bottles also will be on special for $3.

An added bonus: The hotel will validate your parking when you eat or drink at the restaurant. Call 316-613-6300 for more information.

Five Guys: Zagat’s best burger


Thanks to the attentive foodies who participate on my bi-weekly food chats, I found out that the results of Zagat’s 2010 Zagat Fast-Food Survey are in.

The big winners are all chains, of course, and Wichita has most of the big-winning chains, including Five Guys Burgers and Fries, who has the best fast-food burger, according to the poll.

They survey also found that Starbucks has the best fast-food coffee, Panera has the best salads and McDonald’s offers the best value (and the best fries.)  Dairy Queen has the best milkshake, and Chick-fil-A has the best grilled chicken.

The survey results aren’t really too surprising, but they’re still fun to peruse.

The great burger quest

burgerlistI’ve written several times over the years about local diners who’ve embarked upon eating adventures.

Last year, I wrote about some local architects trying out every barbecue place they could think of. I’ve written about a couple dining their way through the alphabet. And I’ve written about a group of friends determined to try every Mexican joint in town.

Now, my friend and colleague Suzanne Perez Tobias (who’s birthday is TODAY, by the way) has launched a burger quest with her husband, kids and a couple of neighbors. Their mission: Try a new burger spot any time they can all get together and go.


A Big Larry's burger

So far, they’ve tried Bill’s Charcoal Grill at 2957 N. Arkansas, Big Larry’s Burgers at 328 S. Meridian in Valley Center, and West Street Burger at 130 S West St.

Suzanne’s favorite so far was the Big Larry’s burger, which she described as thick and juicy, and she loved that Big Larry also sold fried pickles and okra. As you can see, her list is long, and she may yet find a better burger.

Anyone else out there ever launched a restaurant quest?

Chat live about Wichita dining with Denise Neil at 1:30 p.m.

Sneak peek: The Bay Leaf review

IMG_5456It’s time for another restaurant review — well, it will be on Friday — but you get a sneak peek because you’re kind enough to read this blog.

I enjoyed The Bay Leaf in Clifton Square, more for the setting than for the food, but the food has its moments, too.

I took two readers along, Jan Cummins and her friend Stacy, who won the opportunity to accompany me on a restaurant review meal. (Not so sure they’re convinced it was such a prize. Ha ha.)

But the two both said they’d go back and spend their own money, which is the ultimate measure of whether a restaurant is worth it.