Category Archives: Mediterranean food

Opening today: Holy land Mediterranean Grill

Opening today: Holy land Mediterranean Grill

Today is the opening day for Holy land Mediterranean Grill, the latest restaurant to take over the oft-occupied, oft-vacated space at 217 E. Douglas. (Onyx Bistro was the most recent tenant.)

The restaurant features a menu of Mediterranean specials, such as falafel, kebabs and hummus, as well as some more exotic sounding dishes. (Quail platter, anyone?) You can view the full menu here.

The restaurant, which has been nicely redecorated inside, will feature indoor and outdoor seating and will offer hookah smoking outdoors in the evenings.

Ashraf Jaradat works at the new Holy land Mediterranean Grill.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Wednesdays, and the restaurant is hoping to attract an after-bar crowd with 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. hours Thursdays through Saturdays.

For more information, call 316-265-5393.

Coming soon? Holy land Mediterranean Grill

The space at 217 E. Douglas that has been home to roughly 32,921,673** restaurants over the past several years appears to be on the verge of getting a new occupant.

There’s a new bright yellow awning on the space that most recently housed the short-lived Onyx Bistro, and several signs in the windows feature pictures of delicious-looking Mediterranean dishes such as kibbeh and fattouch. The logo in the corner of the signs says “Holy land Mediterranean Grill.”

Sophokles “Steve” Anthimedes, who owns the space and runs Athena Jewelry next door, said he wasn’t quite ready to reveal all the details of the new tenant. He only would say that he was planning to lease the space to three businessmen from Illinois who run a successful restaurant chain there.

I looked up Holy land Mediterranean Grill online, and there is one with a matching logo operating out of Champaign, Ill. You can view its menu by taking a look at this website. It’s full of Mediterranean items familiar to Wichita diners, such as hummus, schwarma, kibbeh, kebabs, fattouch and more.

I’ll provide an update when Sophokles and his mystery tenants are ready to talk.

**I exaggerate. Slightly.

In memory of Julia: Lebanese cooking secrets

Michael Bayouth and the famous booklet.

Michael Bayouth’s beloved mother, Julia, died on Aug. 1 of last year, and he still misses her.

As the anniversary of her death approaches, Michael was looking for some way to officially remember her. He decided he’d order up another printing of one of his mother’s most famous projects — a recipe booklet full of Lebanese recipes compiled by Julia and her sister, Helen Jabara, more than 35 years ago when both were congregants at St. George Orthodox Cathedral.

The paper booklet is called “Our Favorite Lebanese Recipes,” and over the years, thousands of copies have been sold.

Julia Bayouth

It includes instructions for making everything from tahini sauce to tabbouleh to meat pies to baklava. You might recall that St. George is the home of a popular annual Lebanese dinner, and Julia was a big part of that event in her time.

The booklets are on sale again and available for $2.50 apiece at Jabara Carpet Outlet, 1816 N. Broadway, or by calling Michael at 316-686-5104.

Restaurant review: Cafe Maurice

I’ve been hearing from all sorts of people-in-the-know that I should check out Cafe Maurice, which is at 9747 E. 21st St N. I even heard that someone with N&J Cafe links had something to do with it.

I was shocked to walk in and find out that someone was Therese Srour, who was my favorite waitress at N&J back in the day. She and her husband, Gus, are the owners of Cafe Maurice, and it is goooood stuff. I can’t wait to go back for more kibbe and falafel.

Read my review, which is coming out in the paper on Friday. And if you’ve been to Cafe Maurice, let me know what you thought. Post your review in the comments section below.

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.

Little Lebanese menu at Bella Luna

Fans of Bella Luna Cafe have been bugging chef and owner Matteo Taha to permanently add some of his rotating Lebanese specials to the menu. So starting today, he’s going to give it a try.

Taha has introduced a separate menu of Lebanese dishes at the east side restaurant at 2132 N. Rock Road. It’s separate, he says, only because it won’t physically fit on the already jam-packed regular menu.

It includes hummus, baba ghannooj, tabouleh, grape leaves, kafta, kebbi and more. Taha says he’ll start the menu at the east side restaurant but hopes to eventually offer it at the 4618 E. Central and 2441 N. Maize Road restaurants as well.

Can we talk about baba ghanoush?

babaganoushAs often happens when one ventures over to hang out with Brett and Tracy and Kathy D. at B-98, my morning had a bit of a Twilight Zone feel to it.

I’d called Kathy to ask if I could come on the air to promote Monday’s On the Town with Carrie and Denise and Tuesday’s Wichita Eagle Holiday Open House. Kathy, the producer, said okay, but you’d better bring some baba ghanoush.

I thought this was an odd request, considering that she asked me to arrive at 8:30 a.m. So I decided she was joking.

She wasn’t.

Apparently, she and Brett stumbled across a goofy, online pronunciation of baba ghanoush and have been obsessed with the words ever since. They really, truly expected me to bring some.

Shamed, I went to the only place I knew would be selling baba ghanoush before 9 a.m. on a Friday morning: Green Acres Deli. The lady who checked me out said, “Have you been listening to B-98? Every other word is baba ghanoush.”

Tell me about it.

When I quizzed Brett about his baba obsession, he admitted he’d never even tried it. For those who don’t know, baba ghanoush is the best use of eggplant I’ve ever tasted. A Mediterranean dip, it’s made out of a mixture of mashed eggplant, herbs and fresh lemon juice. Some of the best in town, in my opinion, is served locally at Zaytun and at  N&J Cafe, but several other Mediterranean restaurants do it well, too.

Joking aside, who else out there loves baba ghanoush? Where have you found some you love?

Sneak peak: Rain Cafe and Lounge review

rain.jpg 004I internet-published my latest review for Rain Cafe and Lounge, a bar that doubles as a delicious Mediterranean restaurant, yesterday afternoon.

A couple of hours later, someone from the restaurant called to thank me for the criticism and vowed to make improvements. But I LIKED IT! I REALLY DID. In fact, I can’t stop thinking about the falafel sandwich, pictured here. Any minor complaints I had were trumped by the fact that the falafel, humus and tabouli are killer — and close by.

The review will be published in tomorrow’s Go! section, but you can read it online early.

Anyone else been there?

Eat and drink at Il Ponte

FOOD HEALTHWATCH  TBThe east side Le Monde Cafe at 3101 N. Rock Road didn’t last very long, but it already has a similar replacement.

Il Ponte opened in the space on Friday, and yesterday, the manager sent me the menu to peruse. It’s full of Le Monde-esque fare, including gyros, fattouch salad, pastas, sandwiches, hummus and kebabs.  There’s also a Sunday buffet.

The restaurant also will offer specials for fans of adult beverages, including half-price bottles of wine on Mondays and Wednesday, $3 margaritas, strawberry daiquiris and pina coladas on Tuesdays, and $4 specialty drinks on Thursdays.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays. Call 316-425-5269 for more information.

October full of food fundraisers

baklavaPerusing the calendar the other day, I realized that October is full full full of food-related fundraisers.

It starts this weekend with the big Rockin’ The Roundhouse event at Wichita State University and continues with a chocolate fantasy, a Lebanese dinner, a beery scary Halloween party and more.

My dining story in Friday’s Go! section lists these events so you can start saving your pennies and clearing room in you stomach.

At right is a photo from the annual St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral’s Lebanese dinner and sale, a well-oiled machine that provides Wichitans with fabulous cabbage rolls, baklava and more. It’s coming up Oct. 9 and 10.