Monthly Archives: September 2010

Guilty as charged

kebabsI get e-mails of complaint on a fairly regular basis because — hey — you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Recently, I got a pretty good one from Mike Rediger that makes me laugh every time I read it.

He was commenting on my recent review of Kababs, an Indian restaurant out west. And he got me.

Here’s the text of the e-mail.

Regarding your article about Kababs, I found the Ambience note incredibly insightful:
“The interior is small but cozy and well-decorated, WITH A MIX OF TABLES AND CHAIRS.”
I would venture to guess that most every restaurant you review has a mix of tables and chairs.  I would hate to see a restaurant that had chairs but no tables, or tables but no chairs!

Of course I meant to say tables and booths, or some variation of it, but when you’re on your 145th “ambience” note of your career, sometimes your brain goes on autopilot.

I thank Mr. Rediger for his astute attention — and dry sense of critical humor.

Big changes at Dolci & Joes

Dolciandjoes_0Dolci & Joes, a sandwich shop with a following at 3425 E. Douglas, has changed or tweaked just about everything about how it does business in recent weeks, and even bigger changes are coming in the next few weeks.

A couple of weeks ago, the restaurant switched from a standing-in-line to order system and introduced table service. Now customers come in, take a seat and order from a waiter or waitress. The move has cut down on the amount of time customers spend in line during the busy lunch hour, managers said, and hurried diners can get in and out more quickly.

Dolci & Joes also recently started a “lunchbox” special” that offers customers a half sandwich and choice of soup or house salad for $6.99.

In recent months, the restaurant also has introduced a breakfast menu that includes items such as breakfast burritos. In the next couple of weeks, the restaurant  plans to offer a more detailed breakfast menu plus a dinner menu, which will include items such as steaks, chops and chicken. I’ll post an update when that menu’s ready to go.

Dolci & Joe’s is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Breakfast is served from 7 to 11 a.m., and when dinner starts, it’ll be offered from 5 to 9 p.m. For more deitals, call 316-613-3515.

October full of food fundraisers

baklavaPerusing the calendar the other day, I realized that October is full full full of food-related fundraisers.

It starts this weekend with the big Rockin’ The Roundhouse event at Wichita State University and continues with a chocolate fantasy, a Lebanese dinner, a beery scary Halloween party and more.

My dining story in Friday’s Go! section lists these events so you can start saving your pennies and clearing room in you stomach.

At right is a photo from the annual St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral’s Lebanese dinner and sale, a well-oiled machine that provides Wichitans with fabulous cabbage rolls, baklava and more. It’s coming up Oct. 9 and 10.

Ice cream social

coldstonecreameryWichita’s Cold Stone Creamery stores are participating tomorrow in the ninth annual “World’s Largest Ice Cream Social.”

What does this mean for you? FREE ICE CREAM, that’s what.

From 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, the Cold Stone Creamery stores at 21st and Maize and 29th and Rock will give away a free 3-oz. serving of the Kate’s Creation, which features caramel apple ice cream mixed with graham cracker pie crust, chocolate shavings, and apple pie filling.

The even is a fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish foundation, and ice cream eaters are encouraged to make a donation to the cause, which grants wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions.

Free tacos, cheap noodles

thainoodles2Two local chain restaurants are offering patrons an opportunity to save money.

One is Pei Wei, 2441 N Maize Rd., which is offering diners who visit on Thursday or Friday of this week  a ticket for half off the price of the new Thai River Noodles Dish, featuring wok-tossed wide noodles in sweet soy sauce with choice of meat, broccoli, carrots, Fresno peppers and Thai basil. The coupon can be redeemed Saturday through Oct. 10.

The other is Chipotle, which is introducing a new kids menu and enticing young customers with free kids meals the first four Sundays of October — Oct. 3, 10, 17 and 24. The new kids menu offers a small cheese quesadilla with a side of rice and beans, a small meat and cheese quesadilla with a side of rice and beans, a single taco with a side of rice and a taco kit, which allows kids to build their own. A kids meals is free with the purchase of  an adult-sized burrito, burrito bowl, salad or order of tacos.

Breakfast at The Anchor

The Achor's morning menu is ha-uge.

The Achor's morning menu is ha-uge.

I finally got a chance this weekend to do something I’ve been meaning to do ever since I wrote about The Anchor’s new chef, Ben George: I went to breakfast.

For those of you who don’t know, The Anchor is now open for breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays, and the menu is ambitious. It’s huge, especially for a twice-a-week thing, and there’s almost nothing that’s not on it — omelets, Benedicts, hash, jeuvos rancheros. It just goes on and on.

The Monte Cristo at The Anchor.

The Monte Cristo at The Anchor.

We tried two dishes with mixed results. We weren’t thrilled about the Monte Cristo, a breakfast sandwich that’s egg battered, fried, topped with powdered sugar and served with a side of raspberry sauce. It was beautiful and huge, but it was way too greasy. The bread tasted overwhelmingly of funnel cake, and there was a little swimming pool of grease underneath each half.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum was the smoky eggs Benedict, made with pork loin instead of ham and topped with a mozzarella cream sauce. The smoky flavor was so pronounced, and the sauce was excellent. We’d eat it again and again.

Smoky eggs Benedict.

Smoky eggs Benedict.

The biscuits also were great — giant, moist, buttery and perfectly browned. And the coffee and ambiance were good, too. I’ll definitely give it another try.

In other Anchor news, the bar and restaurant is celebrating its 6th birthday with several days worth of events, starting on Wednesday. See the poster below for details. Read More »

Chili Cookoff results

My pal Jaime Green, professional photog and professional drummer, shot this pic of the judges' tasting cups backstage at the cookoff.

My pal Jaime Green, professional photog and professional drummer, shot this pic of the judges' tasting cups backstage at the cookoff.

I recognize a few names in here, including Nicole Howerton of Howerton-White and Schane Gross of The Anchor.

I also got an email from a reader named Bruce Brown, who told me that his mother-in-law, Judie Ellis, won the ICS Red Chili category and that her daughter (Bruce’s wife) had already qualified for the World’s Champion Chili Cookoff in the chili verde and salsa divisions in other cookoffs she’s entered. That’ll be a fun chili rivalry in New Hampshire this weekend.

The Wagonmasters will donate proceeds toward college scholarships for local students.


101 – 3 Hot Mamas, Judie Ellis

108 – Code 3 Chili, Derek Pierce

114 – Kansas 2 Step Chili , Merle Simpson

135 – Out of Retirement, Mark Day

148 – Toucan Chew 2, Sue Dudzik

ICS Green (Chili Verde)

137 – Red’s Chili, Joni Deere

146 – Iron Horse Chili, Ed Huffman

119 – Red Bull Chili, Connie Gillespie

101 – 3 Hot Mamas, Judie Ellis

149 – Howerton-White, Nicole Howerton

ICS Salsa

109 – Flatland Dreamers, Bill Spellman

128 – Sarah Jane’s Salsa, Sarah May

108 – Code 3 Chili, Derek Pierce

147 – Toucan Chew 1, Bill Dudzik

107 – Chili Cocineros, Cindy Harmon

No Beans

133 – Carrie Nation’s Revenge, Lela Meadow-Conner

114 – Kansas 2 Step Chili, Merle Simpson

148 – Toucan Chew 2, Sue Dudzik

135 – Out of Retirement, Mark Day

101 – 3 Hot Mamas, Judie Ellis

Anything Goes

121 – Monster Mash Chili, Mark Stovall, Travis Grover, Jason Chalashtari

117 – One Hot Mama, Julie Brown

104 – Bune Jugs, Robby Carruth

147 – Toucan Chew 1, Bill Dudzik

107 – Chili Concineros, Cindy Harmon

People’s Choice

145 – Security Title, Chris Ketzner

139 – The Anchor, Schane Gross

134 – Slow Food, Will Root

Best Booth

107 – Chili Cocineros

Best Team Spirit

133 – Carrie Nation’s Revenge

Grand Champion

107 – Chili Cocineros, Cindy Harmon

Photographic report from the Chili Cookoff

This weekend was the big Wichita Wagonmasters Downtown Chili Cookoff, and I made the sacrifice of eating a whole bunch of chili outdoors on a beautiful fall day, just to bring you this report. You’re welcome.

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Chili cookoff Potentate Guy Bower was broadcasting his Good Life show live from the festival, and he put me on the air for a few minutes. He also interviewed Hyatt chef David Wirebaugh, seen here. Wirebaugh was the City of Wichita's secret weapon at its booth. He cooked the city chili and made the city salsa.

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Here's Wirebaugh, stirring one of his chili concoctions.

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Here's my mom, sampling the salsa at the city's booth. Wirebaugh made some pretty incredible salsa and served it with thick, homemade fried flour tortillas. I probably sampled it seven times. City councilwoman Janet Miller served ably as the Double Dipping Police.

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These folks were having a super hot time. They were among several groups of friends who entered the cookoff just for fun.

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The Mudbugs, my friend Jaime's increasingly famous Cajun and Zydeco band, were the chili fest entertainment. (Above is Erin Craddock, the tutu wearing triangle player.) Their stage was a bit too far back from the action, but their music added just the right spice.

I’m told I’ll get a list of winners later today. I’ll post them here as soon as I do.

Farewell to The Palette


Sisters Connie Dirks and Linda Grafton

Two years ago, I wrote a story for Wichitalk about two sisters — very good photographer Connie Dirks and very good cook Linda Grafton — who decided that going into business together might be fun.

They opened The Palette, a cozy cafe headed by Linda, in the same space as Connie’s Fine Arts Photography studio, which was already operating on West Douglas in Delano.

And it was fun, they say.

But it was also hard work, and though business was growing, the duo has decided they’re ready to… rest.

So they’re closing The Palette at the end of business on Saturday. Connie will still operate her fine arts studio, but she’ll do so out of her house.

“We would not have not done it,” Connie said. “But we’re also ready to really retire.”

The sisters will say farewell with a Final Friday reception tonight from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the cafe, 613 W. Douglas. Dirks will display some of her work, and Linda will serve her famous biscotti and lace cookies.

They’ll open one final time on Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will serve their regular menu, which includes comfort food favorites, salads, sandwiches and Linda’s delicious pies. For more information, call 316-295-4113.

Press pockets Pitts

Chef Douglas Pitts

Chef Douglas Pitts

A pretty building and a talented chef both will get new dining life next month when Melad Stephan opens his new cocktail lounge, now called Press.

The pretty building is the Waterfront space at 1720 N. Webb Road that first housed Piztros and then became an east-side Sabor. That Sabor closed in February, but Stephan has a new idea for the space — a cocktail lounge that he originally planned to call D’Vine but now has decided to call Press. As in wine and vodka press.

And now comes word from Melad and Co. that they’ve hired a leader for the Press kitchen — chef Douglas Pitts, who opened 626 Douglas when he first moved to Wichita in 2004 then worked as a chef at Chester’s, Bella Donna and his recently closed downtown lunch spot, DK Kitchen. Pitts will prepare tapas, and the menu at Press also will include all kinds of unique cocktails, Stephan says. Pitts also plans to put on weekly wine dinners.

Remodeling on the space has just started, and Stephan (who also owns Uptown Bistro, Oeno, Sabor in Old Town Square, and Egg Cetera) hopes to have it open by mid-October.