Monthly Archives: April 2011

Crawfish ball

That’s how you pronounce it. If you’re a Cajun. Or a groupie of a Cajun band.

Tonight’s the first night of Mudbug Madness, a two-night crawfish boil scheduled at Prairie Pines, featuring music from my friend Jaime’s band, The Mudbugs Cajun & Zydeco Band.

The event will feature food — fresh crawfish, jambalaya, corn on the cob, potatoes, and more. Musician Joe Stumpe will open for the Mudbugs, and cash bar will be available.

The festivities will be from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. today and Saturday at Prairie Pines, 4055 N. Tyler Road. Tickets are $31.95 by calling 316-303-2037 or go to prairiepinesfestivals.com. They’re also available at the door.

I’ll be there tonight. Hope to see you there.

Royal eating

Several local restaurants and food purveyors are getting into the Royal Wedding spirit today. Here are a few:

Royal wedding brunch: John Brown’s, the bar and restaurant at 3700 E. Douglas, is offering a Royal Wedding brunch until about 1 p.m. today. They’re showing footage from the wedding on television screens and have put out a brunch buffet and a Bloody Mary bar.

Royal wedding pudding: Pete White, owner of the British Banger Company at 1713 W. Douglas in Delano, is offering a free Yorkshire pudding, a sort of flaky bread bowl, to all customers all day today. The restaurant is carryout only and hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Royal wedding sweets: Cheri’s Bakery at 2121 N. Tyler Road is selling an extra special assortment of Royal Wedding themed cookies, cupcakes and more. I’m dying to take a big ole bite of that hand cookie.

Cinco de Mayo: The forgotten holiday

Cinco de Mayo sometimes falls through the cracks when it comes to coverage in our paper, and that’s a shame. Who doesn’t want an excuse to eat tacos and drink margaritas at an all-night fiesta?

This year is one of the years I’m worried the day will pass without its proper due. Because it falls on a Thursday, it was a little too early to give it a lot of space in this Friday’s Go!, but by next Friday, it’ll all be over!

This blog will stop the loco-ness. If you know of a local bar or restaurant that plans to observe Cinco De Mayo, let me know in the comments section below I’ll investigate the details. We’ll get a guide going that will help everyone May 5 be muy bueno.

Dyne Quik review: I couldn’t have written it better

Local foodie Bill Pearce has been trying to get me to try out Dyne Quik with him, and since I haven’t been able to, he went without me yesterday.

The review he sent me after the fact was concise and hilarious, and I couldn’t have written it better. So for all of you wondering how the new Dyne Quik is, here ya go.

Bill writes:

“Not to be snarky, but lunchtime came and I thought, ‘What would be perfect, Bill? Oh I know, a Dyne Quik burger.” So I did. It was just the same as I remember, although there has been so much alcohol coursing through my brain in the intervening 30 or so years since I was last there, who can say? I remember the burger as exactly the same, which means all the weeks of cleaning was not spent in an inadvisable griddle cleaning. The fries weren’t as good, but I suppose that he now buys pre-made fries rather than cutting his own, and also changes in grease.”

It is sparkling and clean, and miracle of miracles, WHITE! Also, my burger was served in the same plastic basket as before. I was told that it took and entire day of washing to make them usable, including TEN trips through the dishwasher!”

My arteries cry out to you!”

Question of the week: Best hibachi grill

Inspired by a reader who wants to take her 10-year-old daughter out for her first shrimp-catching, spatula flying experience at a local Japanese hibachi grill, I got to thinking about Wichita’s hibachi scene.

Years ago, I wrote a story about how Wichita has more hibachi grill restaurants than most cities larger than ours. I’m pretty sure that’s still the case. Sumo. Osaka. Kobe. Sal’s. Sake. The list goes on and on.

This week’s question: What’s your favorite Japanese steakhouse? How often do you go and what do you like (or not like) about the show?

Answer in the comments section below.

Opening today: Sit @ Thai Express

Sit @ Thai Express is a new restaurant that the owners of Sit @ Thai Bistro, 7603 W. 21st St., are opening today in the former Taco Shop building at 4910 E. Central.

I peeked in the window last week, and it was all pretty and white and hip looking.

The restaurant plans to offer a small menu of five to seven specials each day. The opening day menu today includes yellow curry chicken, spicy cashew nut beef and garlic ginger with beef. The food will be served in to-go containers, and the owners hope to eventually offer a drive-through.

Hours will be 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. For more information, call 316-351-5856.

And just a little FYI, here’s the review I wrote of the Sit @ Empire’s first restaurant back in 2009.

Reader questions: Unhappy campers

My new question-and-answer forum sends the questions to me and only me, with no place for me to answer them publicly. So from time-to-time, I’ll try to answer some of them here. (For the record, I answer one question every week in my “Dining with Denise” e-mail newsletter, which you should sign up for IMMEDIATELY if you haven’t already.)

Today’s topic: Customer complaints. I often get e-mails from readers unhappy with their experience in a restaurant, and here are a couple of examples.

A reader named Sharon writes:

“Problem…ordered from a vegetarian restaurant the dish Macadamia Surprise. My friend and I were splitting the meal because we also wanted to try a few appetizers.  The dish sounded so delicious but when it arrived it had cashews and broccoli. Two items that were not mentioned in the dish. NO macadamia nuts.

When we asked the waiter if there’d been a mistake he said, “no, we just ran out of macadamia nuts.” They did NOT offer to make us anything else or rectify the situation. They didn’t mention being out of any of the items before serving us, nor did he suggest we could order something else even after we expressed our dislike with the whole situation and especially broccoli and possible allergies to cashew nuts.  They just expected this to be okay.  What should have been done to insure happy customers? We will not return due to lack of concern shown to us regarding our visit. Thank you!”

Well, Sharon, I run into this a lot at restaurants. There was a time when unhappy customers regularly would be taken care of by comping part of the bill or offering something extra for free. That’s rarer these days. Although these kinds of situations infuriate me, I think there are really only two options. First, you have to complain to the manager on duty on the spot. You can’t just imply that you want something taken care of. You have to say it explicitly, and a lot of people aren’t comfortable doing that. It’s also better to complain before you dig into and devour a meal, I find.

That’s no guarantee it’ll be taken care of, though. In fact, many disorganized restaurants with insufficient help don’t have any idea how to deal with this issue. They’re just trying to stay alive day-to-day. Then, your only recourse is to not return and to advise friends not to go. I’ve had some luck in the past sending letters to restaurants when I’ve been particularly dissatisfied, but sadly, lack of customer service is more of the rule rather than the exception anymore.

Here’s another dissatisfied customer named Tom.

We ate Easter Brunch at the Marriott, advertised for $21.95 per person. When we got the check, there was an 18% “Hotel Buffet Charge” added to the ticket along with the expected sales tax. Why wasn’t this posted in the “where to eat”? Is this a usual practice? The $21.95 per person for 2 meal turned out to be $66 for 2 with tip.

I called over to the Corporate Hills Marriott this morning and talked to the food and beverage director, who says it’s always been the hotel’s practice to add an 18 percent gratuity charge on to holiday buffets, such as Easter, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. (My presumption is that people usually don’t tip too well on buffets, and they want to make the holiday shifts worthwhile for the staff.) She also said, Tom, that if you added a gratuity on top of that, not realizing that you weren’t expected to, she’d happily refund it.

It’s gonna be a kibbee-rific weekend

Wichita is lucky to have so many great Lebanese cooks, and I can personally attest that some great Lebanese cooking is going to happening this weekend at the annual St. Mary Orthodox Christian Church Mediterranean Festival.

At Gridiron last weekend, cast member Sarah Kallail, whose grandma is one of the great cooks, brought several samples backstage for the cast to test out. Among the dishes we were able to preview: Meat pies, stuffed grape leaves, hummus, baklawa (the church’s preferred spelling) and some of the best kibbee I’ve ever tasted.

Apparently, the co-chairs of the event traveled to Lebanon this summer to get in touch with their cooking heritage and gather up traditional recipes, which they’re trying out on this year’s festivalgoers.

The event will be at the church at 344 S. Martinson from 4 to 8 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Patrons buy $1 tickets at the door and then choose their items a la carte. Most things range from $1 to $6.

For more information, call 316-264-1576.

Random, but hey, 20 percent off!!

The press release from P.F. Chang’s I got today struck me as pretty random and strange because I’m not sure if P.F. Chang’s could be LESS Scranton- or Michael Scott-relevant. But it is not for me to judge. It is just for me to report.

P.F. Chang’s is offering a 20 percent discount on all online orders picked up next Thursday, April 28, the day that the last ever episode of “The Office” starring Steve Carell as Michael Scott airs. Diners just have to type SCRANTON in the promotion code field during checkout.

Visit www.pfchangs.com/orderonline to order and schedule a pick-up time.

Wonder what Chili’s has planned…

Changes at Gaslamp: Seasonal entrees, lower prices

Gaslamp Grille & Lounge, the fine dining restaurant that opened in December at 550 N. Rock Road, is launching a new menu on Monday, with several new seasonal dishes and some lower price points.

Among the new menu items: A pork belly appetizer,  citrus shrimp corn chowder, a shellfish provencal entree featuring seared scallops, a blue crab and truffle gnocchi and a roasted rack of lamb.

Prices have been lowered to be more on par with Gaslamp’s sister restaurant, Mike’s Wine Dive at 4714 E. Douglas. The blue crab and truffle gnocchi, for example, is $17.95, as is a new apple wood smoked chicken entree. In fact, most dishes — save the steaks, a duck dish and the rack of lamb — are now under $20.

Gaslamp serves food from 4 to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, from 4 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and from 3 to 10 p.m. Sundays.

Reservations are available by calling 316-260-1432.