Monthly Archives: February 2014

All kinds of Mardis Gras fun next week

404785_10151352827183893_167595882_nShould they be so inclined, Wichita Mardis Gras fans could celebrate Fat Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. this year without taking a breath or a break.

I’ve gathered up a list of Fat Tuesday event scheduled for this coming Tuesday.

Among them: An annual all-you-can-eat oyster dinner, a mega Cajun buffet at a popular local restaurant and a performance by Wichita’s Mudbugs Cajun & Zydeco Band.

Check out the story, and laissez les bon temps rouler.

Two Wichita restaurants say “We’re still here”

ZWL6W.SlMa.80Two Wichita restaurants are reminding longtime customers that they’re still in business. One is battling incorrect rumors. The other is battling inconvenient road construction.

Earlier this week, I heard from Ruben’s Mexican Grill owner Anita Acosta, whose husband and the restaurant’s namesake, Ruben, has been battling serious health problems since January. Anita has struggled to run the place by herself, she said, but has never considered closing. She became concerned when her landlord called recently and said he’d heard a rumor she planned to close.

That’s not the case, she said, and in fact, Ruben has been able to come back to work for a few hours at a time recently. The Acostas moved their Delano restaurant several blocks west on Douglas last year.

Meanwhile, DeFazio’s, the family-owned Italian restaurant at 2706 N. Amidon, also is reassuring customers that it’s still open. Roadwork that’s about to begin in front of the restaurant has caused its street sign to be removed, owners said.

But they’re working on getting new signage up that will point the easiest way to the restaurant, which will remain open throughout the project. Managers say they’ll keep customers posted on the progress of the construction via their Facebook page. 

Taste & See Chef announces new T.V. spot

1973338_10153059309244041_1270937673_oChef Jason Febres is going to be on television again.

The chef, who owns three locations of his Wichita restaurant Taste & See, announced on his Facebook page today something he’s been hinting at for months: He’ll appear on an episode of the Food Network show “Cutthroat Kitchen” hosted by famous food personality Alton Brown.

According to Febres, the episode he appeared in will air on the network, channel 40 and 2040 in Wichita, on May 4.

This will be Febres’ third go-round with televised food shows.

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Febres

Last MarchFebres appeared as a kitchen coach on an episode of Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue.” Then, in December, he was on “Guy’s Grocery Games”  hosted by food celeb Guy Fieri.

“Cutthroat Kitchen” premiered on the network in August, and each episode pits four chefs against each other cooking gourmet dishes for a celebrity judge. But there’s always an element of kitchen sabotage to keep things interesting.

The show airs Sundays at 9 p.m.

Nathan Toubia accepts sous chef job at Wichita Country Club

cropped-nathan1-191x300Popular local chef Nathan Toubia is making another career move.

He’s left Birds on the Roof Bakery & Cafe, where he has been working since November as head chef, and today accepted a job working under Chef Damian Lehman as the sous chef at Wichita Country Club. He starts on Friday.

Meanwhile, Birds on the Roof, which is at 550 N. Rock Road, is closing its doors for at least two weeks while it hires a new chef, said owner Thao Luu. The restaurant will, however, open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday to test out new menu items.

In other Toubia news, he has sold his Bocco Deli, 3010 E. Central, which he opened on his own in 2010. A longtime employee now will take it over.

Toubia, the son of the late Latour founder Antoine Toubia, closed his Bocconcini Italian Eatery in August.

New restaurant brings Moroccan food to Wichita

The popular couscous dish at the new Marrakech Cafe is served only on Fridays.

The popular couscous dish at the new Marrakech Cafe is served only on Fridays.

A new restaurant near 21st and Woodlawn is bringing a new cuisine to Wichita: Moroccan.

Former Wichita Eagle carrier Badreddine Rahali and his wife, Fatiha, opened Marrakech Cafe at 6257 E. 21st St. N. earlier this month in a space formerly occupied by a dry cleaner. It specializes in cuisine from Rahali’s native Morocco, which he says focuses on exotic spices and meats such as chicken, beef and lamb. His menu includes several deli sandwiches and meat and vegetable dishes cooked in a vessel called a “tagine.”  A popular menu item so far is a couscous dish, which layers seven different vegetables and couscous over meat. It’s available only on Fridays.

Side dishes include grape leaves, Moroccan salad and familiar dishes such as fattoush salad, hummus and baba ghanoush. The restaurant also serves fruit smoothies in flavors such as mango and pineapple, special juices such as creamy banana and creamy avocado, and several coffee drinks.

For now, the restaurant is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. The couple plans to extend the hours and stay open until 10 p.m. soon.

They also plan to begin offering a lunch buffet in about a month.

For more information, call 316-765-7307.

Mark your calendars and loosen your belts: It’s food fundraiser season

maxresdefaultEarly spring is typically the time local churches and organizations start feeding people for a cause. That season unofficially launches Monday in Wichita.

A whole lot of food-based fundraisers will happen over the next couple of weeks. Some are simple chili feeds. Other are elaborate galas with huge spreads and fancy attire.

Following are a few to put on your calendar:

Dining with Friends, Monday, Feb.24: This event is a benefit for Positive Directions and includes a special dinner at Taste & See, 255 N. Washington. It’s a five-course dinner with two wine pairings per course. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the dinner is $65 a person. Reservations are required by calling James Woods at 263-2214 extension 109.

Palette to Palate, Friday, Feb. 28: This annual fundraiser for KETCH mixes art, food and drink. It includes food from local restaurants, wine tasting and silent and live wine auctions. The event starts at 7 p.m. Friday at Beech Activity Center, 9710 E. Central. Tickets are $75 a person. Tickets are available at ketch.org or by calling 316-383-8889.

Prairie Fire Chuckwagon, March 1: This all-you-can-eat chili and stew feed is put on by Grace United Methodist Church, 944 S. Topeka, and happens from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 1. Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under and include dessert and a drink. Additional desserts can be purchased for 50 cents. For more information, call 316-262-6195.

Throw Down in Old Town, March 6: Women in Aviation Air Capital City Chapter are putting on a cookie competition from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 6 at Social Manor, 920 E. Douglas. The event will put local cookie chefs against each other, including Bruce Reesman from Twizted Confections and Nancy Bell Ringer, the Dish Diva. Tickets are $15, and chances to vote for a favorite cookie are $1 each. Tickets are available at www.childrenfirstceo.org.

Wichita Airport Lions Club Chili Feed, March 8: This is the 22nd annual chili feed for this club, and it lasts from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 8. It happens at the Sedgwick County Extension Office, 7001 W. 21st St. N. Tickets are $7, and the event  offers all-you-can-eat chili and crackers and unlimited coffee and tea. Soft drinks and desserts are available for purchase. The proceeds will go toward community service activities and projects for the club.

Death by Chocolate, March 8: This eighth annual fundraiser for Exploration Place fills the children’s museums with chocolate creations prepared by local bakers, chocolate makers and restaurants. Visitors also can enjoy wine and chocolate parings, liv emusic. an open bar, and a silent auction. The event is from 7 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, March 8. Tickets are $80 a person and are available at exploration.org/deathbychocolate.

Freddy’s offering 89-cent custard scoops

The problem with this promotion is that I simply cannot leave Freddy’s with just a bowl of custard. If I’m in there, I gotta have a steak burger — and probably a side of those matchstick fries, too.

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But if you have more self control than I do, you’ll be able to use this news. To celebrate the 89th birthday of Freddy’s co-founder and namesake, Freddy Simon, the chain is offering 89-cent scoops of its frozen custard. The offer applies to either chocolate or vanilla custard in either a traditional cake cone or a dish. The deal is good from Friday through Feb. 27.

The restaurant also is asking fans to wish Freddy a happy birthday via social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.  If you do, use the hashtag #happybirthdayfreddy

Strong Ale Fest 5 is on Saturday

unnamed (35)I’m mostly a wine girl, so I always assumed that the Strong Ale Fest was a celebration of beers that tasted really, really strong. The dark stuff that makes my mouth pucker and that I can handle only about four sips of before giving up.

Not so, I learned this week when interviewing its founder and organizer, Anchor owner Schane Gross. Strong Ale simply has a high alcohol contest — 8 percent or higher — and beers that fit its definition can have a deceptively light flavor.

On Saturday afternoon, 200 beer fans will storm the Anchor at 1109 E. Douglas to sample more than 100 super strong beers. Some of it is rare stuff that can cost up to 90 cents an ounce.

I have a story coming out in Friday’s Go! section about the festival, but you can read it now. Tickets are $40. And word to the wise — don’t try to visit the Anchor for non-Strong Ale Fest business on Saturday afternoon. It’s closed to the non-attending public until 5 p.m.

Yo-B Yogurt & Burgers now open in Old Town Square

The interior of the new Yo-B Yogurt & Burgers.

The interior of the new Yo-B Yogurt & Burgers.

Yo-B Yogurt & Burgers opened in the former Luca Italian Kitchen space at 301 N. Mead on Tuesday.

The business belongs to Cafe Bel Ami owner Nabil Bacha and is a self-serve yogurt spot that also has burgers. Bacha has completely remodeled the space and gone with the same tile-on-the-wall, futuristic-pastel-colored- chairs motif that is employed by competitors such as Orange Leaf and Cherry Berry. He’s chosen pale purple and white as the colors.

The restaurant offers self-serve frozen yogurt at 42 cents an ounce, and the lineup includes 14 flavors including peach, raspberry, green apple, cheesecake, chocolate and salted caramel. There’s also a well-stocked topping bar, including a wall of hard candy dispensers and serving trays with fruits, chopped up candy bars and more.photo (31)

There’s also a short menu of order-at-the-counter burgers and sandwiches, including a fried egg-topped burger, a fried skirt steak sandwich and a grilled chicken sandwiches. Burgers average about $3.29 and fries are $1.39. The menu also has hot chocolate, shakes and parfaits.

Yo-B is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, 11 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays.

On the Border offering $1 margaritas on Saturday

The frozen house margarita at On the Border are just $1 on Saturday.

The frozen house margarita at On the Border are just $1 on Saturday.

This is my kind of week.

Tuesday, apparently, was National Drink Wine Day. (I tend not to celebrate that one, though, because EVERY DAY is National Drink Wine Day at my house.)

And Saturday is National Margarita Day. Now that one I can celebrate.

Mexican chain On the Border, which has Wichita locations at 1930 N. Rock Road and 2347 N. Maize Road, will observe the day by offering $1 house margaritas all day. Customers can order the 12 oz. house margaritas either frozen or on the rocks, and the restaurants also will offer their CoronaRitas, which are dramatically served with a beer turned upside down inside of them, for $5.

When I do go to On the Border, I’m usually lured by the restaurant’s giant frozen swirl margaritas served in glass that reminds me of a fish bowl, and I’ve also been known to visit Jose Pepper’s and Ziggy’s Pizza on its discount margarita nights. Don’t even get me started on those Carlos O’ Kelly’s margaritas in a plastic yellow cup that always tempts me at Intrust Bank Arena concerts.

Who has Wichita’s best margarita, in your opinion?