Monthly Archives: January 2012

Wichita a test-market for new Wendy’s burgers

If you’ve visited a local Wendy’s lately, you may have noticed that they’re selling two new “Black Label” burgers. The Bacon Portabella is made with mushroom sauce, muenster cheese, bacon, tomato and a peppery sauce and is $4.89. The Spicy Santa Fe is made with guacamole, pepper jack cheese, mixed greens, tomato, red onion slices and a cilantro jalapeno lime sauce and is $4.49. Both are quarter-pounders.

The burgers are available only in Wichita and in Columbus, Ohio. Apparently, we Midwesterners know our burgers.

People who order them are asked to call a number printed on the bag and report what they thought. An employee at a local Wendy’s said that so far, the Bacon Portabella is the more popular of the two and likely will hang around on the menu, at least for a while.

Have you tested out the new burgers? If so, let us know what you thought in the comments section below.

Great Harvest is getting crusty

Tim and MariAnn Heeren, owners of Great Harvest Bread Company

For the most part, cooks can get by with the ingredients sold in Wichita stores, especially since the arrival of the “Gucci Dillons” at Central and Rock.

But there’s one exception.

Wichita is severely lacking in crusty bread department. None of the grocery stores carry anything resembling a nice, crusty loaf. Panera will do in a pinch, but the good stuff tends to go early.

Great Harvest Bread Company, which recently completed its move from 6509 E. Central to a bigger space at 535 N. Woodlawn, has just added a new selection of crusty breads, owner Tim Heeren told me this morning.

He now offers several varieties of sourdough loaves, including asiago and Kalamata olive flavored, as well as crusty French baguettes and ciabatta bread.

I haven’t tried the new bread, but I can vouch for Great Harvest’s fabulous braided challah bread, which it sells each Friday. Slice it, toast it, slather it with butter and honey, thank me later.

Great Harvest’s new breads are available from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. They’re open on Mondays, too, but they spend that day making the “starter” that fuels the bread.

Are you ready to loaf?

I think I’ve finally finished the digestion process from last year’s third annual Loaf Off, where as a judge, I sampled an alarmingly large number of meatloaves.

It’s almost time to loaf again, and I’m surprised by how many people have asked about entering. Surprised — and a little scared. I’m judging again this year, along with my former colleague Joe Stumpe and my current colleague, Carrie Rengers. My stomach hurts just thinking about it.

This year’s Loaf Off is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 3, at The Anchor, 1109 E. Douglas. Spectators are allowed to attend, observe and sample right along with us. Admission for spectator tasters is $10 for adults and $5 for kids ages 5 to 12. The Anchor will offer side dishes as well.

Follow this link if you want to enter the contest. There’s a $25 entry fee, and you have to prepare two 2-pound loaves.

Jose Pepper’s west, Lakeside Club both opening Monday

Two new restaurants will open their doors on Monday — one on the east side and one on the west.

Wichita’s second  Jose Pepper’s, a Kansas City-based Mexican chain, is going into the former Timberline space at 2243 N. Tyler. It’ll open for lunch on Monday, and its hours will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Wichita’s other Jose Pepper’s is at 11423 E 13th St. N.

Also on Monday, Wink Hartman’s new private Lakeside Club will open in the former Bella Donna space at 2121 N. Webb Road with popular local chef Jeremy Wade in the kitchen. Word of warning: If you’re not yet a member, don’t show up planning to sign up and eat. The state requires a 10-day waiting period after a membership is paid and processed. (For information on how to join, visit  Memberships will cost $20 a month, and hours will be 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays. I’m promised a menu soon, which I will share.

Our date with The Flying Stove

The owners of The Flying Stove, the new food truck that you’ve seen tooling around Wichita, are a little shy. A few weeks ago, I called and said I’d like to write a story about them, but they declined my offer. They weren’t ready, they said

Well, today, my Eagle desk neighbor Katie and I decided that we WERE ready. Katie had seen on Facebook that the truck was going to be serving in Old Town today. So we jaywalked across Douglas and headed over.

The Flying Stove is owned by brothers Jeff and Rob Schauf, who prepare gourmet food then park the truck at various places around Wichita. On a recent night, they served concertgoers at The Cotillion. A few weeks ago, I saw them parked on Douglas in Delano.

Today's menu board

Today, they were on the edge of the Farm & Art Market Plaza at First and Mosley. Fans figure out where they are on a given day by checking their Facebook page or Twitter profile.

When Katie and I arrived shortly after noon, they were already out of what I wanted — a steak frites burrito filled with marinated steak, truffle fries, melted cheese and salsa verde. So I got the chicken Caesar wrap, filled with shave parmesan and crispy chicken, and Katie got the bacon Swiss burger, which was super fancy and sort of spicy. It was dressed with bacon compote and an heirloom tomato. We split our entrees half-n-half.

Our co-worker Julie asked us to bring back an order of “flavor balls,” and how could we resist? They were three fried risotto balls served with a side of marinara and were also pretty tasty.

Flavor balls

The whole experience was fun. We ran into the dudes from The Labor Party while we were waiting on our food, and I saw one of my wrasslin’ students from my journalism classes at Newman, too. Several other businessfolk were gathered around, placing orders. It took about ten minutes for us to get our food, so we were glad it was a pretty sunny day.

Bottom line: We’d go back. And probably will next time they tool near the Eagle.

Prepare to chat

It’s been two weeks since we chatted live about dining, which means it’s time to do it again. Join me at 1:30 p.m. right here for chit chat about my Luca review, new restaurants, closing restaurants and any thing else you want to discuss.

Question of the week: Top taco burger?

This question is kind of selfish because lately, all I want to eat is taco burgers.

I don’t let myself eat taco burgers every day, but sometimes I wish I could set up a little bed in the corner of Taco Pronto and just live there. I would shout my taco burger needs at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

But enough about my crazy. My question of the week: Who makes your favorite taco burger locally? It doesn’t have to come from a fast-food place, although I think I’ve made my Pronto preference perfectly clear.

Two burning questions: Why do taco burgers taste so much better than burger burgers? Also, why doesn’t Taco Bell serve a taco burger?

Give me your T.B. nominee in the comments section below.

BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse coming to Towne East

The first clue was when they started advertising on the internet for a manager for a Wichita store.

Now there’s confirmation that BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, a California-based chain, is planning to open in Wichita.

The restaurant should be open by this summer. It features a menu that has handcrafted beers plus steaks, burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and other entrees. The menu reminds me a lot of Granite City’s.

It’s going into a new building on the northwest corner of Kellogg and Rock, just south of Logan’s Roadhouse.

Big chicken noodle dinner is this weekend

Saturday is the day for the annual St. Paul’s United Methodist Church chicken noodle dinner. The event, now in its 66th year, is one of several big food events famously put on by Wichita churches and their fabulous cooks throughout the year.

The dinner will be served from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at the church, 1356 N. Broadway. The cost is $9 or free for children 6 and under. The food — which includes homemade chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes and gravy, coleslaw, bread, pies and other desserts, is served family style, and it’s all-you-can-eat. Carryouts are available.

The dinner is a fundraiser for the church and usually brings in around 2,500 people. Last year, 200 volunteers worked the event and used  750 pounds of flour, 180 dozen eggs, 550 pounds of turkey, 400 pounds of chicken, 650 pounds of cabbage and hundreds of donated desserts.

For more information, call the church office at 316-267-3263.

Happy New Year

Here’s my friend Jaime Green’s annual video created from the colorful and noisy New Year’s celebration at Saigon, 1103 N. Broadway. Enjoy…