Monthly Archives: June 2013

See you in July

I’m leaving work now, and I won’t be back until July 8. Dine on without me!

NBA legend cooking at Taste and See

Febres, far left, standing next to NBA legend Charles Oakley

Chef Jason Febres likes to offer the unexpected at his Taste and See restaurant, and tonight, he’s cooking with an unlikely partner.

NBA legend Charles Oakley, who played with teams such as the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks and who also is a restaurant owner. Febres was put in touch with him through a local contact and invited him to Wichita to help him cook as part of one of his famous demonstration dinners.

Oakley will be at Taste and See tonight (Friday, July 28) and will help Febres prepare a six-course tasting menu. Spots are left and cost $45 a person. Wine pairings are available for an extra $20 a person.

For a reservation, call 316-771-7393.

Knolla’s creating a Wichita-style pizza

They’re calling it the “Wichita-Style Pizza Movement.”

Local pizza restaurant Knolla’s is launching an online event that it hopes will result in the invention of a signature pizza style for Wichita. Why should New York and Chicago be the only cities to have their own?

Knolla’s is asking Wichitans to take an online survey, which allows them to build their dream pizza — choosing shape, sauce, toppings, etc.
Next month, the survey results will be tallied, and Knolla’s will create a signature Wichita pizza.

Then, from 3 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 27, the Knolla’s at 7732 E. Central will put on a launch event during which the first 100 people there will get a commemorative T-shirt. Everyone who attends will get a sample of the winning pizza combination.

After that, the Wichita-style pizza will likely be a special on the menu, and if it’s popular, it could be added permanently.

One of the shapes voters can choose in the survey is Kansas-shaped. I think I know how I’ll be voting.

Food Network Magazine recognizes local ice cream shop

For the past several summers, Food Network Magazine has put out a “Fifty States” issue, which names the best of a certain dish in each of the 50 states.

Two summers ago, it was pizza, and Wichita Pizza Co’s taco pizza was named the best in Kansas. Last summer, the topic was sandwiches, and the banh mi at My Tho was the Kansas sandwich that made the list.

This summer, Food Network Magazine is listing the country’s best ice cream treats, and the issue on stands now names Paleteria La Reyna’s helado (Spanish for ice cream) the best in Kansas.

I love the ice cream there, which is creamier than standard ice cream. My favorite flavors are tequila (it really tastes like it), pine nut, pistachio and cookies and cream. My daughter loves the bubble gum flavor, which she chews on for hours.

I also love the rest of the menu at Paleteria La Reyna, which serves up some of the best tacos, tortas and chips and salsa in town.

For more information, visit the restaurant at 2925 N. Arkansas or call 316-831-9196.

U-Hungry Truck: Wichita’s first food truck?

The U-Hungry Truck

I was out reviewing a restaurant last night when I stumbled across something interesting in the restaurant’s parking lot — a food truck I’d never seen before.

After quizzing its owner and sole employee, I discovered that this truck — called U-Hungry Truck — might just be one of Wichita’s pioneering mobile restaurants.

Arturo Ray hit the streets with the truck two years ago. He serves a little bit of everything, including fried catfish, fried shrimp, chicken wings, tacos, burritos, brats, pulled pork and Polish sausage.

He doesn’t operate like the other food truckers, do. Ray tends to drive around an area bordered by 21st Street, 17th Street, Oliver and I-135. When he sees people who look hungry, he stops and cooks for them. When I found him, he’d stopped at  Dollar General to buy more paper products and decided to just stay parked there for a bit and serve food.

Arturo Ray

Ray said he tried updating his location via Facebook, but when he did, he got a huge line that he couldn’t handle. His method works better, he said, and his regulars know his patterns.

Those who want to try U-Hungry can call Ray at 810-210-2592 to find out where he is. The truck is red and decorated with lots of vintage signs.

Reverie’s grand opening is this weekend

Andrew Gough inside his new Reverie Coffee Roasters

My old pal Andrew Gough has gone from Wichita Eagle Dining Panelist to Coffee Connoisseur.

He just opened Reverie Coffee Roasters, a coffee roasting/ brewing shop at 2611 E. Douglas. I stopped by on Friday to take a look, and I can report that this place could be dangerous for coffee lovers, including me.

The tastefully decorated shop is just getting up and going, but its main function will be selling freshly roasted coffee beans. Andy showed me his collection of green-colored unroasted beans, his giant, high-tech looking roaster and his bins of the finished product, which sell for about $15 a pound.

He also has shelves and shelves of very cool coffee gadgets, including vacuum-sealing coffee bean holders, brewers, presses and cups.

The shop also serves coffee — specialty drinks and slow-brewed basics. That’s not the focus of the shop, but it has a nice coffee bar and a couple of tables up front.

Roasted beans are on top. Unroasted beans are on the bottom.

This weekend, the shop is putting on a grand opening and will have music, food and free samples.

On Friday, B.S. Sandwich Press will be stationed outside the shop from 6 to 9 p.m., and Elliot Road will be inside performing from 7 to 8 p.m. The shop also will display artwork by Wayne Clark.

On Saturday, both B.S. Sandwich Press and The Flying Stove will be at the shop from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Kayla Fitzgerald Jacobs will perform from noon to 1 p.m.

From 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, the shop will be offering samples of coffee plus munchies.

For more information, call 316-616-4362.

Three new restaurants in six days

Bryce Kuhn, left, is the owner of the new Twelve Restaurant & Bar, and Patrick McMahon is the general manager.

Late June is seeing a flurry of new restaurants opening. Well, by flurry I mean three, but that’s a lot for a six-day span.

My story in today’s Go! section is about those new restaurants.

Freebirds World Burrito, a Chipotle-esque burrito place, opened Thursday at 410 N. Hillside.

Twelve Restaurant & Bar, a casual upscale spot owned by a veteran restaurant manager, opens Monday in the former Shorty Small’s location at 12111 W. Maple.

And Bud E. Roostersa chicken finger lover’s paradise, opens Tuesday in the former Go! Steaks spot next to Orange Leaf at 8918 W. 21st St.

Read all about it — then let me know if you try one of the new places.

Larkspur Bistro & Bar revamps its menu

Larkspur Bistro & Bar, the popular fine dining restaurant at 904 E. Douglas, has had the same menu for a lonnnggggg time. Not that that’s a bad thing: The restaurant’s pistachio chicken and Metro salad have earned spots in Wichita dining history.

But two weeks ago, the restaurant made some pretty significant changes to its menu, adding lots of items and changing some others.

Owner Ty Issa, who also owns YaYa’s Eurobistro, enlisted the help of his YaYa’s chef, Owen Moore, to freshen the Larkspur menu.

Among the additions are a wedge salad with goat cheese dressing, a tomato mozzarella salad, a blackened tilapia taco at lunch, several pastas including lobster rigatoni and cheese and steak arrabiata fettuccine, and a seared ahi tuna and a rocky mountain trout at dinner.

Chef O.J. Moore

The Metro salad is still on the menu but includes toasted walnuts instead of slivered almonds. Several dishes are topped with new sauces, and a side salad with an entree now costs $3 extra.

The changes are going over well with customers, said Shawna Sphar, Larkspur’s banquet and catering manager. Many had been asking for a menu update for years, she said.

For more information, call Larkspur at 316-262-5275.

Bravos changes name, avoids lawsuit

Bravos, the delicious downtown Italian restaurant I reviewed earlier this year, isn’t Bravos any more.

The restaurant was notified recently that it was being sued by big Italian chain Bravo Cucina Italiana because it was using a name that was already taken.

Rather than going to battle with a corporate giant, said Lita Zendeli, daughter of owner Kas Zendeli, the restaurant agreed to change its name, and the lawsuit was dropped.

The new name is Pasta Piazza Italian Restaurant, a name suggested by a loyal customer. The Zendelis are working on changing signage and labeling on the menus and expects to have the name transition complete within a month.

The restaurant also is changing its hours. Customers had requested that the restaurant open on Sundays, particularly with Music Theatre of Wichita season underway, so now, Pasta Piazza will be open on Sundays and closed on Mondays. The new hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 11 am. to 8 p.m. Sundays.

For more information, call 316-440-3359.

My daughter is learning to cook at Bonnie’s Place

There’s Alexis, on the far right, scooping yeast for pizza crust under the watchful eye of Bonnie Aeschliman.

My 8-year-old daughter, Alexis, is kind of shy, and she’s not always excited to walk into a situation where she doesn’t know anyone.

But Cooking Camp so far has been different.

I signed Alexis up for a week-long “camp” at Cooking at Bonnie’s Place, the cooking school at 9747 E. 21st St. N. run by Bonnie Aeschliman. The camp meets every day this week from 10 a.m. to noon, and the students — second through fifth graders — cook something different each day then consume the results.

On Monday, they made spaghetti and meatballs and “the second best salad” Alexis has ever had. Today, they were working on making pizzas with crust from yeasty scratch.

Alexis is is loving it, and by Friday, I expect her to whip me up a gourmet meal.

Bonnie is having two more sets of kids cooking camps this summer. One is July 15 through 19 and is designed for teens ages 12 to 18. Then, there’s another camp for the younger set June 17 through 21. Sign your young chef up through the website or by calling 316-425-5224.