Monthly Archives: February 2011

Please eat the pancakes

I’m pretty sure I’ve never been forwarded a restaurant-related  e-mail as many times as I was forwarded the e-mail about IHOP’s big pancake giveaway tomorrow morning. A modest estimate is that at least a dozen of my friends and co-workers if not more sent me the news in an FYI sorta way.

This is a big deal, people.

Tuesday is National Pancake Day at IHOP, which means that from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., IHOP will give away free short stacks of its buttermilk pancakes and is suggesting that diners leave a donation to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at Via Christi Health.

Wichita’s IHOP restaurants are at 11855 E. Kellogg Drive, 3505 N. Rock Road and 515 S. Ridge Circle.

Please! Eat the pancakes!

A report from the meatloaf front lines

Meatloaf was served in tiny tasting cups. If you eat 25 tiny bites, it's healthy, right?

I had more fun than I thought possible at this Saturday’s Loaf Off, a meatloaf competition that fundraiser for Make-A-Wish that made The Anchor smell sooooooo goooooood.

I had the pleasure of serving as a judge at the event, along with chef Tanya Tandoc and local Food God Joe Stumpe. We sampled and sampled and sampled meatloaf, and amazingly, they were all so different that we were actually able to decide which ones were best.

We gave the Top Loaf prize to Don Lucero, who was recently promoted to head chef at Via Christi Hospital on East Harry. He created his loaf in an angel food cake pan, stuffing it in the center with all sorts of cheesy goodness. You can find his recipe at the bottom of this post, and I suggest you make it a.s.a.p.

The crowd gathered to sample the loaves voted on People’s Choice and Best of Show. Eric and Diana Wittman won People’s Choice with a fabulous white-gravy topped loaf, and a team called The Smoked Loafers, lead by Philip Warren, won Best of Show. If my memory serves correct, their loaf was topped with latticed bacon, and it was purty.

Several other loaves were amazing, too, including a pheasant/duck/ostrich creation by Chef Paul Freimuth at the Hyatt and a very tasty Carrabba’s loaf entered by Joe Parten.

Please enjoy my photos from the event and keep reading to find Lucero’s winning recipe.

Don Lucero, the head chef at Via Christi Hospital on East Harry, was the big winner. Here he is with Lori Stone of Make-A-Wish getting his loaf award.

My co-judge Joe, preparing to dig in.

Tanya Tandoc announcing the winner.

Pretty sure this is the latticed beauty that won Best of Show.

The Hyatt's chef Paul Freimuth prepared a loaf made out of ostrich, duck and pheasant.

Could not resist a shot of this meatloaf fan sitting next to us.

Read More »

Friday afternoon appetizers

Ben Arnold will open his Cafe 151 on Monday.

A few little restaurant tidbits that might interest you, in case you hadn’t heard.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries announced this week that it’s chosen Sept. 1 as an opening day for its downtown location, which will sit at the southwest corner of Douglas and Ida.

Cafe 151, owned by Ben Arnold of Corporate Caterers and chef Jeremy Wade, will open Monday in the former Piccadilly Express space at 151 N. Main. It’ll open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. serving breakfast and lunch, including hot and cold sandwiches and burgers.

Pita & Paninis, Roni Attari’s restaurant at 602 N. Tyler formerly known as Yuca, is closed, and Attari says he will focus on catering.

Taco’s a Cunadito is a new Mexican restaurant at 2247 N. Broadway with an apostrophe I don’t approve of but a menu that looks pretty good and includes tacos, burritos, tamales and more.

Pho Chopstix is the new restaurant in the former Chopstix space at 2233 N. Ridge Road. It specializes in pho and noodle dishes.

Fat Tuesday is nigh

The Mudbugs

Attention, party people: You have only a week and five days to make plans for how you’ll spend Fat Tuesday, and I have two suggestions — one Cajun, one educational and sophisticated.

The Mudbugs Cajun & Zydeco Band, which stars Eagle photographer Jaime Green on drums, is playing its annual Fat Tuesday gig at Heroes Sports Bar, 117 N. Mosley. The Cajun tunes start at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 8, and Heroes usually mixes up some killer hurricanes. Admission is free.

Over at the Airport Hilton, the Orpheum and the American Institute of Wine and Food’s Wichita Chapter are putting on a fundraiser called “A Night of Education, Sophistication & Celebration.” It will feature wine, food and a presentation by internationally known wine expert and author Dr. Elliot Engel.

The dinner will feature the wines of Louis M. Martini, and food will be provided by the Hilton’s executive chef Larry Walker.

Proceeds benefit the Orpheum Theatre. Tickets are $95, and reservations are due by noon March 6 by calling 316-682-5502.

Ready to loaf

Meatloaf can be sort of a polarizing food. I love it, but many people in my life just can’t deal with it. I’m not sure why. It’s sort of like a giant meatball, and what’s not to like about that?

Good thing I’m pro-meatloaf because on Saturday, I’ll be one of three judges at the Loaf Off, a meatloaf cooking competition now in its third year.

We’ll gather at The Anchor, 1109 E. Douglas, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and sample loafs assembled by both home cooks and local chefs. Among the chefs entering this year: Paul Freimuth, the new head chef at Harvest Kitchen/Bar in the Hyatt, Carrabba’s Joe Parten and local caterer Chris Collier.

The public is invited to sample the loafs and help choose a People’s Choice category. The Anchor will be providing meatloaf friendly side-items liked mashed potatoes and gravy. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 5 to 12.

My co-judges are Tanya Tandoc of the soon-to-open Tanya’s Soup Kitchen and local Food God Joe Stumpe. The event raises money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Kansas.

Come loaf off with us?

Question of the week

Wichita’s $$$$$fine dining$$$$$$$$ destinations seem to multiply every day, with more on the way.

How often do you eat at an upscale restaurant? How much are you willing to spend for a fancy meal, and what must that meal deliver to make it worth it to you?

Answer in the comments section below.

Restaurant review: Newport Grill

For some reason, I always get sort of nervous reviewing a fancy restaurant. Newport Grill made it easy, though. It’s a very nice place and a great addition to the dining scene in Wichita.

Here’s my review, which I labored over all day yesterday. When I was done, it was so long that my boss Lori had to cut eight inches out of it.

What? I have a lot to say about seafood!

Anyone else been there? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Post in the comment section below.

Pass the salt (salt, salt salt salt)

I’m not sure how this escaped my attention until just now, but people, IT’S NATIONAL MARGARITA DAY!!!

Obviously, my inner Buffett sensed last night that it was Margarita Day Eve because I made a batch of these babies, and man oh man, were they good to the last drop.

If you don’t have any tequila on hand, though, plenty of Wichita restaurants serve up fabulous margaritas. One of the best is the aptly named “Perfect Margarita” at Redrock Canyon Grill. And I’ve always been partial to those swirls at On the Border.

Carlos O’ Kelly’s also plans to join in the fiesta, according to Twitter.

Fire It Up Pit BBQ

I received an enthusiastic e-mail recently about a new-ish barbecue place at 4628 S. Seneca called “Fire It Up.”

It’s owned by Shawn Naegele, Brian Patterson, Brandon Greenlee and Patrick Davis, who were appealingly described to me as “four friends dedicated to lip-smacking bbq.”

What a coincidence! I also am dedicated to lip-smacking bbq, and I’m especially dedicated to eating it.

Fire It Up is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and specializes in ribs, brisket, pulled pork, turkey, hot links, etc. It also offers meats by the pound, ribs only, and sides such as sweet potato fries and fried okra. The rubs and sauces were created by the owners.

For more information on Fire It Up, call 316-425-7020, or visit the website, where you also can view the menu.

More chef shuffling

David Wirebaugh, Ben George, Terry Johnson and Jeremy Wade at this summer's Iron Chef competition at the Old Town Farmer's Market. Photo by Old Town Farmer's Market.

If you follow restaurants in Wichita, you know that our pool of local chefs is constantly shifting in and out of restaurant jobs. They work here for a while. They work there for a while. They open up their own restaurants. They go back there. They try here again. Rinse. Repeat.

Over the weekend, I found out about a few more moves in the never-ending revolving door of Wichita chefdom. Ben George, who was really turning things around at The Anchor — both in terms of food and service — left there in December after Tallgrass Country Club made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, recruiting him as their food and beverage director. Now, The Anchor is using some of Ben’s former assistants to keep the kitchen going. (I also hear that Anchor owner Schane Gross is now looking at April as a start date for her long-awaited remodel.)

I also heard over the weekend that Gaslamp Grille & Lounge has a new chef: Terry Johnson, who’s worked at restaurants such as Cibola and Yia Yia’s and regularly wins chef cookoffs around town, is heading the Gaslamp kitchen now.